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These Drinks Can Take the Heat of Gochujang, the Fiery Korean Chili Paste

Photography: Penny De Los Santos, Food Styling: Judy Haubert, Prop Styling: Vanessa Vazquez

Besides being a tremendously trendy restaurant ingredient that improves almost anything it touches, gochujang is a gift to home cooks of all skill sets. The Korean fermented paste of (mostly) sun-dried chilies and glutinous rice has all the complexity of seasoning pastes that take dozens of ingredients and hours to make. It’s indispensable not just in Korean cuisine but anywhere you want its spicy-sweet-salty character and umami depth: roast chicken, pork ribs, steak skewers, fried rice, dipping sauces, slaws, soups and stews. The powerful, concentrated flavors demand pairings with personality.


The pleasantly funky, faintly cheesy aroma of gochujang comes from the fermentation process. The quality is terrific with skin-contact whites (aka “orange” wines). Though these vary wildly, they’re usually intensely aromatic, often with unusual notes like nut butters, buckwheat honey and mushroom.


The primary ingredient of gochujang is dried red chilies, and while they’re tempered by other ingredients, the heat is comparable to other spicy condiments like harissa and sriracha. An ice-cold lager will soothe the tongue, and its slightly bitter taste is refreshing with the sticky richness of gochujang.

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