Few Korean households would be without some spicy Korean Kochujang dipping sauce. This spicy-sweet chili pepper Korean dipping sauce is primarily used for mixed rice dishes (bibimbap and hwe dub bap). The dipping sauce is made with Kochujang, the traditional Korean chili red pepper paste.
Kochujang generally contains red chili powder, fermented soybeans, ground-up glutinous rice, and salt. Some recipes substitute other grains or starches, including sweet potato, barley, or wheat, for the glutinous rice. Kochujang also can contain a small amount of honey, sugar, or another sweetener.
The resulting Kochujang paste is thick, and looks something like brick red icing or toothpaste.
In simpler times, most Koreans made their own Kochujang paste. But since the paste must ferment for a month or more, making it time-consuming to create, now Koreans purchase the paste at the supermarket.
In fact, although some Korean gourmets still make their own chili red pepper paste, a wide variety of Kochujang products are available at the store. They're usually sold in tubs that look something like margarine containers, although you also can find them in squeeze bottles.
There's plenty of medical research indicating potential benefits from consuming hot chili peppers—they may relieve pain, alleviate arthritis, and help you lose weight. The Kochujang chili pepper paste used to make this dipping sauce has been shown to have some interesting health benefits, as well: research shows it may help to burn fat and improve cholesterol levels in overweight adults, and may also fight obesity.
For example, one study looked at 60 overweight men and women, who consumed either a supplement containing Kochujang or an inert placebo for 12 weeks. The study found that those consuming the Kochujang lost more visceral fat, a type of fat linked to heart disease and diabetes. Those consuming the Kochujang also saw a decrease in their triglyceride levels, indicating an improved cholesterol profile. However, the Kochujang didn't lead to overall weight loss in those consuming it.
So how can you use this Kochujang-based dipping sauce? There are many ways: Stir it into mixed rice dishes, as I mentioned above, or use it as a vegetable dipping sauce or as a a spicy salad dressing. You also can use it as seasoning for Korean stews and soups, or marinate meat with it.
- 5 Tbsp. Kochujang (Korean chili pepper paste)
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- Mix all ingredients together until well-blended.
- If sauce consistency is too thick, thin out with some warm water.
- Use immediately or store in refrigerator.