Is Gochujang the Next Hot Hot Sauce?

American eaters are embracing gochujang, the fermented hot sauce that has long been a Korean cuisine staple.

Do you know about gochujang? The fermented hot sauce — a paste made with chile peppers, fermented soybeans, sticky rice powder, and salt — has long been a Korean cuisine staple, traditionally used as a marinade for meat and fish and in stews or soups. You’ll find it in your bulgogi or alongside (and then in) your bibimbap.

Lately, American eaters have begun to embrace gochujang (pronounced go-choo-jong), using the savory, sweet, spicy, slightly funky sauce as an umami-packing condiment with a kick. It’s also been increasingly showing up on restaurant menus and supermarket shelves, notes Nation’s Restaurant News. In fact, the industry publication recently chose it as its “flavor of the week.”

Back in 2012, FN Dish flagged gochujang as one of the best things “you never ate.” Nowadays, more of us are eating it. About 14 percent of Americans have heard of gochujang and 7 percent of us have tried it – with awareness highest among Asian consumers, according to NRN; it’s spicing up menus at “independent casual” and “progressive fast casual” restaurants and can be found on 1 percent of U.S. restaurant menus overall. That may sound modest, but it marks a growth of more than 300 percent over the past four years.

Home cooks can mix it into their mayo, ketchup or BBQ sauce or dab it directly on a hamburger or hot dot to add a little heat. You can use it in chili, stew or salad or as a marinade for chicken, fish or meat.

Watch your back, Sriracha.

Photo: iStock

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