|Alternative names||Red chili paste|
|Place of origin||Korea|
|Main ingredients||Gochutgaru (red chili powder), glutinous rice, mejutgaru (fermented soybean powder)|
|Other information||HS code: 2103.90.1030|
|Cookbook: Gochujang Media: Gochujang|
Gochujang (,from Korean: ; gochu-jang [ko.tu.d?a?]) or red chili paste is a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment made from gochutgaru (red chili powder), glutinous rice, mejutgaru (fermented soybean powder), yeotgireum (barley malt powder), and salt. The sweetness comes from the starch of cooked glutinous rice, cultured with saccharifying enzymes during the fermentation process. Traditionally, it has been naturally fermented over years in jangdok (earthenware) on an elevated stone platform, called jangdokdae, in the backyard.
It has commonly been assumed that spicy jang (?; ?) varieties were made using black peppers and chopi, before the introduction of Korean gochu which is sometimes confused with chili peppers in the early 16th century. Chili peppers originated in the Americas, introduced to East Asia by Portuguese traders. However, Korean gochu which is part of the Capsicum Annuum family of peppers is spicy yet sweet making it the perfect specimen for Gochujang production. The first mention of chili pepper in Korea is found in Jibong yuseol, an encyclopedia published in 1614.Sallim gyeongje, a 17-18th century book on farm management, wrote on the cultivation methods of chili peppers. In 18th century books, Somun saseol and Jeungbo sallim gyeongje, gochujang is written as gochojang, using hanja characters and . It is also mentioned that Sunchang was renowned for their gochujang production.
Gochujang, Korea's age old fermented ethnic food had its first recorded appearance as Chojang around the 9th century in a Chinese document called Sikui-simgam. The second oldest documentation of Gochujang is found in the pages of the book Hyangyak-jipsongbang, written by Korean authors during the reign of King Sejong in the Chosun Dynasty. The Hyangyak-jipsongbang a Korean book on Traditional medicine was published between 1236-1433, has record showing that Gochujang was used for medicinal purposes of strength recovery, improving appetite, and digestion over palette satisfaction. It also states, "gochujang carp stew improves stomach functions to those suffering from loss of appetite or digestion dysfunction." It was again introduced around 1445 in a Korean medical encyclopedia named Euibangyuchi suggesting patients with weak spleens make Hwangjagyegogi, a dish similar to the modern day Spicy Chicken stew, it is said "Gochujang used in the form of an oil-mix was used to cure constipation."
Although Gochujang was recorded as used for medicinal purposes, it is said that this fermented pepper paste may have been used earlier than 1664 for seasoning purposes, as food was not recorded unless there was medicinal value. Manbu Lee's Skisanjip (1664) and Chuntaek Kim's Bukheonjip (1670) are two of the earliest writing found with mention of Gochujang used in daily eating purposes. Somewhere around the 19th century Gochujang became an essential part of Korean daily life.
Today Gochujang is an essential part of banchan (side dishes) as it is known to provide flavor, while aiding the digestive system. Gochujang also serves as a simple seasoning when making many dishes today such as braised spicy chicken or soups and according to Chung et al. "it is impossible to imagine bibimbap without gochujang." The specialty of Gochujang is that it combines flavors into one or adds a subtle uniqueness to dishes, therefore rendering them memorable and digestible. Sunchang is located towards the southwestern part of the Korean peninsula. The people of this area would send the fermented paste to the King as presents in Korean earthenware jars. The Sunchang Gochujang traditional ingredients are listed to be Meju from soybeans, Baekseolgi, and Red pepper powder. Additional ingredients were used in the one gifted to the King such as Abalone, Mussels and Prawns, this version of Gochujang is known as Somunsaseol's Gochujang.
Gochujang ingredients reported in Jeungbo sallim gyeongje was 18 l (19 US qt) of powdered and sieved meju (fermented soybeans), 540 ml (0.57 US qt) of gochutgaru (red chili powder), and 1.8 l (1.9 US qt) of glutinous rice flour, as well as soup soy sauce for adjusting the consistency. Gochujang recipe in Gyuhap chongseo, a 1809 cookbook, says that gochujang is made by powdering meju made from 18 l (19 US qt) of soybeans and 3.6 l (3.8 US qt) of glutinous rice, then adding 900-1,260 ml (0.95-1.33 US qt) of gochutgaru and bap made from 3.6 l (3.8 US qt) of glutinous rice. The production method for Gochujang listed in Journal of Ethnics Foods by Kim et al. says Meju made from cooked soybeans and nonglutinous rice with a ratio of 6:4, is woven with straw and then dried for 2-3 months. Gochujang is then made from this meju powder, that gets mixed with malt, salt, rice flour, and red pepper powder. The mixture is then placed into a crock, and takes approximately 6 months to 1 year for fermentation to occur, per historical references the methods used in the old days has not changed much with time.
Other recipes use glutinous rice (chapssal, Korean: ), normal short-grain rice (mepssal, Korean: ), or barley, and, less frequently, whole wheat kernels, jujubes, pumpkin, and sweet potato; these ingredients are used to make special variations. The finished product is a dark, reddish paste with a rich, piquant flavor.
The making of gochujang at home began tapering off when commercial production came into the mass market in the early 1970s. Now, most Koreans purchase gochujang at grocery stores or markets. It is still used extensively in Korean cooking to flavor stews (jjigae), such as gochujang jjigae; marinate meat, such as gochujang bulgogi; and as a condiment for naengmyeon and bibimbap.
Gochujang is also used as a base for making other condiments, such as chogochujang (Korean: ?) and ssamjang (Korean: ). Chogochujang is a variant of gochujang made from gochujang with added vinegar and other seasonings, such as sugar and sesame seeds. It is usually used as a sauce for hoe and hoedeopbap. Similarly, ssamjang is a mixture of mainly gochujang and doenjang, with chopped onions and other spicy seasonings, and is popular with sangchussam (Korean: ).
Gochujang hot-taste unit (GHU) is unit of measurement for the pungency (spicy heat) of gochujang, based on the gas chromatography and the high-performance liquid chromatography of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin concentrations.
Gochujang products are assigned to one of the five levels of spiciness: Mild Hot, Slight Hot, Medium Hot, Very Hot, and Extreme Hot.
|Extreme Hot||100 <|
|Mild Hot||< 30|
Gochujang is used in various dishes such as bibimbap and tteokbokki, and in salads, stews, soups, and marinated meat dishes. Gochujang makes dishes spicier (contributed by the capsaicins from the chili), but also somewhat sweeter.