Gochujang is HOT. And by hot, I mean that it’s trending, at least here in the US.
It’s landed on the food trends forecasts over the past several years in everything from the Washington Post to the National Restaurant Association.
In truth, though, gochujang has been around for a very long time, a backbone of Korean cooking for centuries.
When combined with rice vinegar and brown sugar, gochujang makes a tasty sauce for any number of vegetables. Here, the sauce is tossed with green beans that cook until blistered and tender.
Serve them as a side dish with steamed rice and any number of grilled or roasted chicken, pork, or tofu dishes.
What Is Gochujang
Gochujang isn’t just trendy hot, it’s also spicy hot. It’s a thick, deep red paste that’s traditionally made in clay pots from sticky rice, Korean red pepper flakes, and dried fermented soybeans.
The ingredients ferment for months into a complex, flavorful paste that is the backbone of many Korean dishes. The name itself says it all: gochu means chili and jang means sauce or paste. It’s also entirely plant-based, which means it’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans alike.
What Does Gochujang Taste Like?
It would be selling gochujang short to simply call it a hot sauce. Its flavor is more interesting and complex than that.
It is hot (and the level of heat can vary by brand), but also has some sweetness, tang, and umami that comes from the fermenting process. That compelling flavor may explain why a survey done by the South Korean News Agency, Yonhap, discovered that 21 percent of South Koreans pack it when they travel abroad.
Where to Buy Gochujang
You’ll find the most gochujang varieties by swinging by an Asian market, but most well-stocked mainstream grocery stores, specialty stores, or organic markets also carry it. There’s always Amazon and online shops too.
How to Cook with Gochujang
According to my friend Yunah Kim, who lives in South Korea, Gochujang is traditionally sold in plastic tubs. It’s used in many ways in Korean cooking, says Yunah.
Some use it as a dip for raw vegetables, with raw fish and seafood similar to the way wasabi and soy are used in Japanese cuisine or stirred into mayonnaise for a spicy condiment.
That said, gochujang is most commonly used as a springboard for a sauce that gets used for everything from barbecued chicken to bibimbap. That preparation is the inspiration for these blistered green beans.
How to Make Gochujang Green Beans
These green beans are simple to make and come together quickly. You start by lightly steaming the beans in a large skillet or wok. Then, with the addition of a bit of oil, you sauté the beans until tender and slightly blistered.
From there, it’s just a matter of adding a simple sauce that’s nothing more than gochujang, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and a bit of water. The gochujang itself is so complex and flavorful, you don’t need much more than that.
More Green Bean Recipes to Satisfy Your Veg Craving
- Roasted Green Beans with Onions and Walnuts
- Green Beans with Almonds and Thyme
- Green Beans with Salsa
- Sriracha Orange Glazed Green Beans
- Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Dill
Gochujang Green Beans
- 2 tablespoons gochujang
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed off
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Make gochujang sauce:
In a small bowl, whisk together the gochujang, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.
Steam green beans:
In a large heavy skillet or wok set over high heat add 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil. Add the green beans, and cover with a lid or piece of aluminum foil.
Steam, until the beans are just slightly tender, about 5-8 minutes. Their color will brighten.
Remove the lid and stir the beans in the pan a bit, allowing any remaining liquid to cook off until the pan is virtually dry. I like to use tongs to stir the beans so I can lift them up and flip them easily for even cooking.
Blister and sauce green beans:
Drizzle the oil over the beans, add the salt, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until blistered and speckled with brown spots, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the gochujang sauce. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
Garnish and serve green beans:
Transfer to a serving plate and scatter the sesame seeds over the top. Serve warm.