What Is Gochujang Sauce and How Do You Use It?

I really hate to call out my girlfriend in a Sporked article, but I have little choice. While she’s a great person in many respects, she just doesn’t care about sauces. This, to me, is close to heresy. I am a gigantic sauce fan, slathering Tabasco and Frank’s on most of my food to the point that some people (i.e. my girlfriend) have accused me of not even being able to taste the underlying dish anymore. In my mind, french fries should always be accompanied by ketchup, and, ideally, ranch, bleu cheese dressing, and mayo

In short, sauces are great. But one delicious sauce that you may not have heard of is gochujang. What is gochujang sauce, exactly? Is it spicy? What should I eat it with? Let’s open up the sauce packet and get some answers. 

What is gochujang sauce?

Gochujang sauce is a Korean sauce made predominantly from gochujang, a fermented chili paste. It’s called for in all manner of Korean recipes—and Korean-influenced recipes—to add some flavor and heat to a dish.

What is in gochujang sauce?

Gochujang paste contains chili powder, fermented soybean powder, barley malt, glutinous rice, and salt. Gochujang sauce includes just a few other ingredients. The folks at Chili Pepper Madness recommend soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and some form of sugar, which could also include honey or maple syrup. Mix these together and you’ve got yourself a phenomenally versatile sauce.

Is gochujang sauce spicy?

There is a range of heat levels when it comes to gochujang sauce. On one end, it can be quite mild, with the pungent, umami flavors more pronounced over the heat. On the other end, it can pack quite a punch, and should be dabbed with caution. Be sure to check the label, or try a small amount, before drenching your food with gochujang sauce. 

Does gochujang sauce need to be refrigerated?

After doing a fair amount of research on the internet, there’s not a super clear answer to this question. Before opening, gochujang and gochujang sauce do not need to be refrigerated. Once opened, a lot of people recommend keeping the sauce and the paste in the fridge to help them retain freshness. However, this may not be strictly necessary, as a fair number of people posit that gochujang sauce can remain shelf stable for a long time, though it may change in color. 

If you ask me, your best bet is to just keep the gochujang sauce in the fridge, unless refrigerator space is at an absolute premium, in which case you’ll probably be fine, according to people on the internet. And when have they ever steered you wrong?

How to use gochujang sauce? 

There’s really no wrong answer here. Because it’s a Korean sauce, it naturally pairs well with a number of Korean dishes such as bibimbap. But it can also be used to add flavor to ramen or other savory soups and stews. It’s also a great dipping sauce for chicken and beef. It’s even good drizzled on scrambled eggs. Really, anywhere you would like to add some spicy, umami flavor (which is basically everywhere outside of ice cream) is a perfect place for gochujang sauce.

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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