A tube of Korean chili paste is on the wooden table.

Gochujang (Korean red chili paste, 고추장) is a must-have condiment in Korean cooking. It contains fine red chili powder, barley malt, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt.

It has a thick paste-like consistency that has spicy and pungent flavor. Traditionally, gochujang is fermented in an earthenware called onggi (옹기) in outdoors for nearly a year. During the fermentation the starch is converted to sugars which gives a subtle sweetness to gochujang. The fermented soybean provide the underlying umami flavor.

The heat level can vary depending on the brand if you purchase a factory made gochujang. You can choose either mild or spicy depending on your heat resistance. Check the package label for any kind of spice-level indicator.

Gochujang is perfect for making spicy Korean dishes. It is used widely to compliment meat dishes like Korean pork bulgogi or to use in a topping sauce to dress up grilled or broiled fish. The famous Korean chicken stew called dakdoritang also uses gochujang as a main condiment to flavor the dish.

Although traditionally made homemade gochujang is naturally gluten-free, commercially made gochujang contains wheat. If you are looking for a gluten-free gochujang, see the link below this post.

How to store gochujang

Gochujang has a long shelf life, but once opened, it should always be stored in the refrigerator. If is is stored properly, most store-bought gochujang can last up to 2 years. The color might go darker from crimson red to deep chocolate brown as it ages and the flavor will intensify.