A Chili Paste That Packs a Sweet, Spicy, Savory Punch

A cornerstone ingredient of Korean cooking, gochujang is a fermented chili paste. Savory, sweet and spicy, it’s one of several fermented soy-based Korean condiments known as jangs, and it plays a starring role in numerous marinades, stews and sauces, including in the sweet-heat glaze that makes Korean fried chicken so deeply delicious.

Made the traditional way, gochujang ferments in clay pots for several months (or, in some cases, years), creating a thick, concentrated paste with tremendous depth and complex, smoky chili heat.

Gochujang is available at nearly any grocery store, and its shelf life is extraordinary: After opening, it can last in the refrigerator for two years—pressing plastic wrap directly onto the paste prevents it from drying out.

Versatile enough to use with just about any protein or vegetable, it’s great for stir-fries, braises, soups and noodle dishes. And its bold, well-balanced flavor profile lends itself to experimentation. Spice up anything from roasted potatoes to baby back ribs—even mac and cheese.

When using, keep in mind that a little goes a long way. And because brands can vary in spice level, it’s good to start with a small amount and taste as you go. The thick, sticky paste mixes better with warm liquids than cold ones, but either way, it will require whisking or stirring to fully incorporate.