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Fun things to do with...

... Gochujang

Photo by Shyam Sundar

In this series, we’re highlighting different ingredients and interesting ways to use them in your kitchen. At Earth + City we’re all about innovation, new recipes and new ways to highlight produce. This week we’re taking a closer look at gochunjang.

Right now you might be thinking “gochu-what”? That’s OK. We’re here to give you the lowdown. Before you know it, gochujang will be your new best friend in the kitchen.

Gochujang is a Korean chilli condiment. It’s made by fermenting chilli powder, rice, soybeans and barley in an earthenware container. The end result is a goopy red paste with a runnier consistency than miso. It’s available at Asian grocery stores, and comes in jars or loaf-tin size boxes. Buy the box. Trust us, you’ll use it.

Photo by Max Falkowitz

So what can you use gochujang for? Why, pretty much everything! Like miso, it’s a powerful vegan hit of umami and funkiness, but unlike miso it also brings the heat. You can buy versions that run from mild to extremely hot. There’s even an official scale, Gochujang Hot Taste Units: 30 is mild, 100 very spicy.

Aside from using it in Korean recipes, we like putting a teaspoon or so in dressings and vinaigrettes: this works especially well for roast vegetables and dark leafy greens like kale, which can hold up to the flavor. Its spice and deep flavor also make it an excellent addition to tomato juice in a vegan Caesar. You can rub it on freshly grilled corn on the cob, add it to veggie braises and soups, and combine it with soy to make a delicious dipping sauce.

But my all-time favourite way to use gochujang is as a rub or a marinade. The flavor penetrates whatever you’re cooking and when heat is applied it forms a delicious sweet, sticky, spicy, funky crust. Try it the next time you roast veggies on a sheet pan (again, you might need to add some soy to get the paste to a marinade-like consistency).

It’s also great with tofu. Try this recipe and I’m sure you’ll agree.

Image: Similar recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen  

Quick ‘n’ Dirty Vegan Bibimbap – serves 4

This is a great recipe for when you have friends over: just make the bibimbap in the skillet, put it in the middle of the table and tuck in. Really, you can use whatever toppings you like, I’ve just selected some of my faves.


2.5 cups of cooked white rice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 block tofu, cubed

1 cup rice wine vinegar


¾ cup of gochujang

3 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil



½ bunch of leafy greens, such as kale, Chinese spinach or broccoli rabe

8 radishes, finely sliced

Two carrots, shaved on mandolin

One block of firm tofu

1 cup kimchi

Toasted sesame seeds

Scallions, sliced

Combine the Marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the cubed tofu and refrigerate for half an hour (or as long as you like, it will only get more flavorsome).

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rice and fry, stirring as little as possible, until the bottom of the rice has become crispy: 10-15 minutes.

While the rice is crisping, place half the rice wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Add the shaved carrots leave to pickle lightly.

Heat another skillet over medium-high heat and wilt the greens with a little water. Add salt, soy sauce or sesame oil to taste. Use the same saucepan at the same temperature to fry the tofu, reserving the marinade. When the tofu is done (about five minutes), remove and use the pan to warm the marinade, adding remaining rice wine vinegar to taste.

When the rice is done, pile all the toppings atop the skillet as vertically and theatrically as you can. Serve the marinade/sauce on the side. Instagram. Dig in.


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