Discovering a Korean Culinary Staple

Written by Michael J. Robins, Globally Certified Master Chef

Sponsored by Daesang America

As a Chef and lover of all thing’s food, there is nothing more exciting or inspiring than discovering an ingredient that opens a new world of flavors and opportunities to your repertoire and knowledge. In a world of increasingly sophisticated consumers and continuously blurring cultural boundaries, having an edge with the newest trending ingredients is critical!

That is where the romance started for me. On a recent trip to South Korea. Visiting Daesang, a global leader in fermentation, Gochujang and Kimichi production, with brands such as Chung Jung One®, Jongga® and O’Foods®. I had the chance to fall in love with a Korean household staple called gochujang. A fermented hot pepper paste, traditionally aged for years outdoors in earthen pots. Daesang pays very careful attention to maintain this cultural flavor and tradition by adhering to century old recipes, adapting modern processes, and producing their gochujang in state-of-the-art production facilities perfectly located in the famous Sunchang mountainous region of Korea, where it is known to have the perfect environment for fermentation, giving Sunchang gochujang its distinctive, complex and rich flavor that just can’t be replicated in other regions. An 18th century process that is now getting its time to shine on a global food level!

Gochujang has really started to make its way on the American food scene over the past 5 – 10 years, making its way onto mainstream menus and into consumer-packaged goods. With its umami flavors, spicy and slight sweetness it is no wonder that this flavor is likely to be as popular as Sriracha or Buffalo Sauce in the years to come. It is the perfect taste for the American palette. It can lend itself to authentic Korean profiles, white tablecloth as well as its great opportunities in QSR. It is also increasingly becoming the special ingredient in food manufacturing and its spray dried version is perfect for an array of topical applications, making it certain that soon we will see a proliferation in the snack food category of gochujang or Korean Chili Sauce flavors. Just imagine the possibilities!!

You will understand what I am talking about as you began to play with the possibilities of Gochujang in your kitchen and maybe you already have, but take note of this ingredient, it has a place on the Western food scene, and it is just heating up. I like to use it to impart intense flavor, heat, and a natural perceived sweetness. It intensifies other flavors and gives me that extra pop of umami that takes things from good to “stupid good”! It is definitely a game changer ingredient with that “crave appeal” quality. With the popularity of Asian cultural flavors and regional flavors, gochujang is just fun to play with, and I am finding the boundaries are endless. 

What a beautiful Culinary world we get to formulate in, gochujang has been a prized Korean ingredient for centuries and now it is going to evolve into an everyday staple for western chefs and American consumers. Soon it will be in every kitchen! So, Let the developing begin! Enjoy its depth and versatility, from massaging it into proteins and marinating, to using it as a flavoring ingredient in recipes or applying it topically in its dry form. I think you will soon agree if you have not already that this new global staple is exactly what we needed in our kitchens! Have fun experimenting with gochujangs possibilities!

Having fun in the kitchen…

Michael J. Robins,
Globally Certified Master Chef

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