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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?

Thanks!

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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!