Every year Google Trends releases their annual “Year in Search” report, which explores the searches that shaped our year–the celebrities we couldn’t stop Googling, the current events we wanted to know more about and the new things we wanted to learn how to do. Unicorn Cake was the Number 1 searched food in the United States. Lucky for us, they also delve into the minds of cooks by sharing the top-searched for food terms and recipes. This year had one search we couldn’t ignore: Gochujang, which ranked in at Number 10 in the United States.
This fermented Korean chile paste has taken the world by storm this year—millions of people typed the ingredient into their search bar to learn more and find recipes that utilized gochujang’s unique umami heat. Perhaps it was the time we spent watching our favorite ice skaters, skiers and snowboards compete in South Korea this year, or the incredible work of Korean-American chefs such as Roy Choi and Deuki Hong that helped gochujang soar to the top of the search charts. The ingredient has even been in the news lately, since KFC Malaysia launched a gochujang-flavored fried chicken, a nod to spicy Korean-style chicken wings.
What is Gochujang?
Gochujang is a blend of chilis, soy beans and rice that has been fermented until all the flavors blend into one spicy, savory, sweet and totally unique flavor. More of a paste than a sauce, gochujang has a texture that resembles miso and is often sold in red tubs that can be found stacked high in large displays in Korean markets. The name comes from gochu, a Korean red pepper that often is used to make other traditional Korean fermented foods, including kimichi.
How to Use Gochujang
Gochujang’s texture and flavor make it a supremely versatile ingredient. You’ll often find it called for in marinades, dipping sauces, stews and soups. Its flavors blend especially well with sesame oil, soy sauce or a sweetener such as honey or brown sugar. Once opened, a container of gochujang will keep in the refrigerator for about a year.
Seven Recipes with Gochujang:
Gochujang and doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste) are the key ingredients in a traditional Korean spicy-sweet glaze. Brush some on the pork belly right before it comes off the grill, and serve the extra alongside.
Gochujang and kimchi—two iconic Korean foods—infuse this stew with authentic Korean flavor and plenty of umami.
Chef Deuki Hong shares his recipe for one of Korea’s most beloved dishes. He emphasizes that you can vary the recipe as you like, but topping the dish with a spicy-sweet sauce—made from gochujang, honey and vinegar—is a must.
This easy weeknight meal gets its bold flavor from gochujang, sesame oil, brown sugar and garlic, which are used both to marinate the steak and as a sauce stirred into the final dish.
Serve this version of Korea’s signature dish with as much gochujang as you can handle for a healthy vegetarian meal that’s anything but boring.
Perfect for those nursing a cold or just looking to warm up on a wintery day, this hearty vegetarian soup packs a nutritional punch. Break an egg into each bowl of the boiling hot soup for extra richness.