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What to do with these Korean ingredients?

  • k

A while back I found a Korean grocery and bought a small tub of hot pepper paste (gochujang) and one of soy bean paste (doenjang). They've been sitting around unopened because I haven't been able to think of anything to do with them. I must get a decent Korean cookbook, but till then, can anyone recommend a relatively simple recipe that uses either or both of these?


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  1. Those two things aren't usually used together, as far as I know.

    Easiest thing to go with gochujiang is to make soup. You can approximate a soon du bu (Korean tofu) dish by cooking whatever you have in the fridge in some chicken stock. I usually scrounge up a few slices of pork or chunks of beef, a box of tofu, some fresh vegetables (spinach or napa work well), a few pieces of frozen shrimp or fish, and some kimchee. Add a tablespoon of gochujiang and a few cloves of garlic, and simmer until everything's cooked. Add more gochujiang to taste.

    Doen jiang is good smeared on lettuce and used to wrap Korean BBQ meat. You can buy prepared meat at the market, or just marinate your own meat in soy sauce/scallions/sesame oil/sugar/onion.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Pei

      Whoa! You have the two mixed up, Pei. Gochujang is a spicy/sweet red paste that you use as a condiment, mostly with the BBQ that you mention. Daengjang is the miso paste, a rougher deeper relative of Japanese miso, that you use as a soup base.

      PS. OP, you can easily find Korean recipes online or borrow a book from the library.

      1. re: Pupster

        For most soups, red pepper flakes are used, though I also stir in a spoonful of the red pepper paste in my cabbage-soy bean paste soup at the end.

        I also like to mix the pepper paste and the soy bean paste together, with a little sesame seed oil, for use as a meat/lettuce condiment. I also have been in restaurants where a more straightforward soy bean paste is offered as the condiment.

        Even if I don't have meat, I'll often just make lettuce wraps with rice, red pepper paste, and sometimes some banchan, maybe the sweet black beans or the little anchovies. But this isn't a recipe, more a Korean version of PB&J for dinner. Or dip cucumber and carrot sticks in the red pepper paste.

        1. re: Pupster

          Not at all, I meant what I said. Doenjang is described on the box as soy paste, and my Korean friends call it stinky bean paste and use it just as I've described. It comes as a condiment in some Korean restaurants (along with gochujiang and the side dishes), although not at many because it's too stinky for most people to want to eat it straight.

          And yes, soon du bu usually uses chili flakes instead of gochujiang as the flavoring agent, but I've tried it both ways and found the gochujiang is a fine substitute. But like I said, that recipe was merely an approximation.

          1. re: Pei

            I think you're both right. There's more than one kind of doenjang. If the box says doenjang, people usually use it to make a stew with tofu and spinach. If it says ssamjang, that's what most people use as a condiment, as it's a lot lighter.

            The easiest thing to use gochujiang for is as a condiment with bee bim bap, where you mix rice with whatever you have, a fried egg, some sesame oil and the gochujiang.

            1. re: traceybell

              I have actually used ssamjang as a base for my miso soup. It works pretty nicely. Although I do use it with sam - it is pretty salty.

            2. re: Pei

              While soon tofu traditionally is made with hot pepper flakes as opposed to gochujang, I've also added some gochujang if the mood struck. It's a bit different, but you can use it. You just have to be really careful adding salt or soy or whatever you use as gochujang is salty.

              Kagey (if you're still reading this thread), you should check out hannaone's recipes in chow. I'll bet he's got some great ideas what to do with your excess gochujang.

            3. re: Pupster

              This is actually one of my favorite Korean soups - Gochujang Chigae. It's a popular camping/hiking/mountain/outdoors soup. All you need is anchovies (for stock) water, gochujang, onions, scallions, hot peppers and potato. Of course you can add whatever the hell else you want, like tofu, mushrooms, zuccini, etc.

              The key to the flavor is the combination of potato and gochujang which makes for a really delicious thick spicy soup base.

          2. You can put together a rather fine and very easy noodle dish with those ingredient. For this dish, I like to use the very thick wheat flour noodles that you can find at the Korean market.

            At the bottom of a bowl, put in your hot pepper paste and soybean paste. With that you can also add other seasonings to taste. You can try some soy sauce, seasame oil, lime juice, rice wine vinegar and maybe a little honey as well. Be adventurous and try a combination that you like.

            Now cook your noodles, strain, and put on top of the sauce. What I like to do now is soft poach a couple of eggs place that on top of the noodles. IMO, this will provide a very nice velvety richness to the dish.

            On top of that, add your choice of vegatables and meats. Maybe some shredded cucumber, sliced raw garlic, vinegard onions, cilantro, etc...

            Now add whatever meats you have available. Roast chicken, roast pork, shrimp, whatever.

            Mix it all together and enjoy.

            1. You can make Korean rice cakes with gochujiang: http://www.chezpei.com/2006/07/dukk-b...

              If you can't find rice cakes, I personally think the sauce is great poured over steamed rice.

              1. Wow, thanks, everybody! These are exactly the kinds of suggestions I was hoping for. I look forward to giving them a try.

                  1. re: minhae

                    Thanks for the links! I've been craving Korean food lately but there isn't a restaurant or shop near me. Hopefully, some of these recipes will help me get the hang of some simpler dishes. I'm also trying to make my own kimchee, so we'll see how that goes!

                  2. I know this is perhaps a little late but, gochujiang (red pepper paste) is really great for using in marinades. The marinade is great on pork (daeji bulgogi) and that's how my mother used to make it when I was younger. However, it think it will probably be great on chicken, fish, turkey or tofu.


                    3 T gochujiang
                    1 t soy sauce
                    1 t minced fresh ginger
                    1 T pineapple juice (or any other sweetening agent sugar, pear juice...etc. I prefer pineapple juice.)
                    1 t fresh ground pepper
                    1 clove garlic

                    Marinade your choice of meats or tofu for about 3 hours or so and then grill. Very, very tasty. A nice kick to any BBQ.

                    You can also stirfry and toss in vegetables and serve over rice or noodles.

                    I have just a few more uses of the red pepper paste if you are interested. Just let me know!

                    1. Am relieved and thrilled to find this thread!

                      I have a tub of gochujiang, and I know most restaurants I have been to take the paste, add some things to it (to "finish it off" and to make it thinner, and pourable).

                      Who knows what to add to do this? I seem to recal that you add some vinegar and dark sesame oil.... Maybe garlic juice? or mashed garlic?

                      Every where I look online, it seems like they think you are going to use it full strength -- as thick as it is when you open the tub. But when living in Taiwan, I know the Koreans and the Korean restaurants served something that was thin, in a squeeze bottle. It packed plenty of punch, too, believe me!! YUM

                      Can't wait to see the replies, and get the inside scoop on this.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: hlechat

                        I think you're on the right track - sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. I don't know any exact measurements; I usually just mix and taste until it's good. the sesame oil imparts a wonderful fragrance and adds warmth to the "punch" of gochujang, and the rice wine vinegar thins it out texturally and adds a subtle sweetness to it as well. depending on what I use it for, I sometimes add sesame seeds to it just for fun. I hope you get more replies!

                        1. re: bijoux16

                          Yes, mixing to taste is key, since not all kochujang's are alike in terms of spiciness and salt. Here's my rough baseline guide:

                          2 parts gochujang
                          1 part vinegar
                          1 part (weak) soy sauce
                          1/2 part sweetener (syrup or sugar--I've even seen honey recommended, though it seems kind of wrong to me)
                          garlic to taste
                          a little bit of sesame oil (less than 1 part), and a bunch of sesame seeds.

                          stir stir stir, thin with vinegar (or mirin, for a less traditional option) as desired. I make sure to let it sit for at least a half hour or so to "meld"

                          1. re: another_adam

                            ANother common way for oreans to use gochujang is to fry up ground beef or pork, add the gochujang, a little bit of sugar and sesame oil and they use this as a condiment or as part of a meal.

                            1. re: another_adam

                              I love the above mixture with fresh steamed calamari. Just dip the little suckers in them and yum, yum, yum!

                              My mom used to make that simple dish for me all the time. She would sometimes add very thinly sliced rings of green onion in the sauce.

                        2. thanks, everyone! Have made copious notes. I'll be in the kitchen soon, opening bottles and trying a dab of this and that, based on your input and ideas.

                          i just came back from the chinese grocery store, stocked up on sesame oil, mi jiu (rice wine), soy sauce (Pearl Bridge Lite) and something else. I can't wait. It's a bit overwhelming, choosing the right name brand. For example, here, if you're gonna buy ketchup, you just HAVE to get Heinz, right? So to be faced with a solid wall of unknown name brands.. well, you get the idea.

                          I mostly stuck with ones from Taiwan, as I lived there, and are more familiar with them. :-) :-)

                          I am craving Bimimbop, which I know is not complicated, it just requires ingredients I had not purchased.

                          Off to read more on Korean food!!!!

                          Many Thanks!

                          1. just tripped over this site, which at the bottom has a blurb for making the sauce we're talking of.

                            4 TBSP kochujang
                            1 TBSP sugar (doesn't say which kind
                            )1 TBSP sesame seeds
                            2 tsp sesame oil (doesn't say whether dark or light -- i prefer light)


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: hlechat

                              yep, that one's very similar! you might want to add a little salt or soy to it, too. (the kind of sugar doesn't matter-- I use a Korean cooking (malt) syrup since it has a nice smooth thick texture and it's already liquid so it mixes in well, but regular sugar would work OK too)
                              The one you list is best for something like bibimbap, since it's a little thicker
                              The version discussed above, with vinegar, is thinner and tangier, and is good for use with sashimi, or veggies, or salad (or any number of other uses! I use it on lots of stuff)

                            2. pretty simple but .... I like the spicy red pepper paste over a fried egg on rice. The yolk should be runny and then mix it all up well. My korean friend and I used to always eat these with left over rice in the morning after drinking. comfort food. yum!

                              1. I know that this will sound like I'm being a jackass and the above responses are really good, but wouldn't you use spicy red chili paste where you would use spicy red chili paste and a miso-like paste where you would use miso?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  That's a good question, but I'd say not necessarily! Korean dwenjang isn't as salty as miso and it has some more texture, so you can use it in places where you wouldn't use miso. For example, the suggestion above to mix both dwenjang and gochujang with sesame oil and other flavorings to make ssamjang (the paste used in lettuce wraps) is probably something you wouldn't normally think of doing with Japanese misos, which would mostly be too salty for this, and are usually used in contexts where they are cooked or at least toasted a little...

                                2. No one seems to have mentioned the easiest and (I think) the most delicious way of using these two ingredients together - daenjang jjigae.

                                  4 cups of water
                                  3 tablespoons of daenjang (soybean paste)
                                  Half tablespoon of gochjang
                                  1 tablespoon of minced/chopped garlic
                                  1 chopped onion

                                  Boil for 2 minutes

                                  Then add-
                                  Chopped mushrooms
                                  Chopped zucchini (or spinach or whatever you have)
                                  Chopped potato (I often leave out, depends on what I have indoors)

                                  Simmer high for 5 or 6 minutes

                                  Finally add -
                                  Cubed tofu

                                  Simmer high for 2 minutes or until veggies and tofu are cooked to satisfaction

                                  Serves 4 - alone for a snack, or with rice for a meal.

                                  So simple and takes about 20 minutes to prepare.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Devotchka

                                    Forgot something! - add half a tablespoon of dashi (stock granules - I use fish) in the first stage, with the paste.


                                  2. you can use the gochujang to make a simple soup. You boil some chicken stock (or whatever stock u like) and add in a medley of chopped veggies. I usually use soaked Chinese dried black mushroom, Chinese cabbage, bean sprouts, spring onions. You add in the veggies based on what cooks the longest, i.e the black mushroom first, cabbage in the middle, beansprouts last right before serving, etc. Anyhow, for about 3 cups of broth, add some chopped garlic and ginger, plus a big heaping spoon of gochujang. You can also add korean sweet potato starch noodles or Chinese/Vietnamese glass noodles. At the end before serving, stir in a few prawns, pieces of squid, octupus or whatever sea food you like, plus some firm tofu. Eat alone or over Korean rice (if you haven't added noodles). This soup is addictive and I practically lived on it when I was in university.