This recipe is for one of the 'mother' sauces we use often at Chan. It's really more of a marinade vs. a sauce and it forms the basis for any meat we cook at the restaurant. Bibimbap is also a derivative of this sauce.
When Koreans season meat, we don’t just use salt - we just use gochujang. Salt is generally used in Korean cuisine for fermenting vs. seasoning. This bullet proof Gochujang sauce can be used anywhere from marinating meat to using as a hot sauce
The History of Gochujang Sauce
Gochujang is a basic marinade that is used in the Southern style of Korean cooking which leverages stronger flavor profiles than in other parts of the country. My mom is from the southern part of Korea and so I became more influenced by these flavors and spices - which is why a lot of our dishes at Chan are very bold in flavor. We make our spicy pork at Chan Seattle with Gochujang sauce and it can also be used with baby back or spare ribs as well as beef short ribs.
The Japanese brought spicy chili peppers to Korean in the 16th century and they quickly became integrated into peasant cooking. In Korea, the Royals would never eat anything spicy as it was believed that the King should never have any type of expression on his face.
The Use of Soy in Korean Cooking
The key ingredients in Korean cuisine are Soy, Chili and Sugar. There are actually two different kinds of soy sauce used - Jin is traditionally what is called soy sauce in the US. It was also brought over in the 16th century from Japan and is less salty than the other type of soy sauce - Guk. Because of this, it's used for cooking as it is a bit more forgiving than Guk.
If you use Guk for cooking and it's too salty - once it gets cooked down a dish can becomes way too salty. So we use Jin which provides more depth of flavor and is more acidic. It is also aged longer than Guk which is generally used for season prepared food and is less complex in flavor - a more straightforward salty soy
Other Key Ingredients in Gochujang Sauce
At Chan Seattle, we typically use Japanese Sesame oil. It is hot-pressed and it tends to have a stronger, nuttier flavor that has a higher yield than cold pressed versions. It also has a deeper flavor which makes it unsuitable for cooking at higher temperatures as it has a lower smoking point.
We also use finely ground Gochugaru peppers which are only used for making sauce or giving color to food. They aren't as spicy as some other peppers and are similar to Cayenne.
In addition, we use Shin Mirin rice wine which is Japanese and contains 1% or less of alcohol.
We also use a Gochugang paste as a component of our sauce. It's made with sweet sticky rice, chili, sometimes fermented bean, and soy. It's essential for building the sauce and it provides a wide array of flavors including umami from the soybean, sweetness from rice, and spiciness from the chili. The depth of flavor comes and richness comes from the fermentation process caused by the salt from soy.
Making Gochujang Sauce
Clockwise from top right: Mirin, Garlic Gochugaru chili, Gochujang paste, Soy, Sesame oil, Sugar
1 - Add all ingredients to blender
2 - Add Gochujang paste last
3 - Blend on high speed for 30 seconds until very smooth
4 - Pour into bowl for use in marinade or store for up to 1 week in refrigerator
Cooking Pork Spare Ribs with Gochujang Sauce
As noted above, Gochujang Sauce can be used to marinate a variety of different cuts of meat. Here, we'll use Pork Spare Ribs as an example:
Wash spare ribs
Remove skin from back
Smother ribs in sauce and wrap in parchment, then wrap in foil
Marinate in refrigerator for 3-6 hours
To Bake - cook at 350 degrees for 2.5 hours, then re-glaze with sauce and eat immediately
To Grill - heat grill to 350 degrees, place ribs on grill and baste with sauce for 6 minutes, flip spareribs and cook for another 6 minutes while continuing to baste, flip a final time and baste with sauce cooking for an additional 6 minutes - cut ribs and serve immediately.