That does seem like a long list for a lockdown recipe, but this is fast and it is flavour packed. I have found that I haven’t really had to change much in terms of how I cook. I always cook from my store cupboard anyway, and nothing here is complex. There are 13 years of recipes to explore here too, don’t forget that!
Gojuchang is one of my favourite ingredients and it comes into its own in lockdown. It adds fierce depth and heat in an instant to anything, lending the time used in its long fermentation to anything we cook it with now. And it goes with everything. There is nothing gojuchang doesn’t like. Or at least, I have yet to find it.
I do lean heavy on chilli and spice but I am not macho about it. You will never see me near a Carolina Reaper, the hottest chilli I will go near is a Scotch Bonnet or Habanero, and they are plenty fierce! Chillies do have flavour and fruitiness when they are not trying to melt your face off, and that is what I love. There is brilliant variety too and lots to explore. Chilli enhances flavours and brings a layer that would otherwise be absent. It perks you up and is a friend to endorphins. Runners high? Don’t forget there is also a chilli one.
Gojuchang is a friend to any dish
When we think of flavour, we think of and look to manipulate the five elements of flavour. Sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami, and while I don’t love bitter, it has a place. Everything in balance leads to a perfect bite. Gojuchang brings lots of these things. It has umami depth and heat, it is a little sweet, a little salty and it is sour too. Adding gojuchang to a dish will complete it and elevate it. You can base a dish around it like Korean bulgogi, or you can add a teaspoon to a dish to enhance it. At £3 a tub it is an absolute bargain. If it is not already in your cupboard, I strongly suggest you invest.
There are already lots of gojuchang recipes on Eat Like a Girl (it is one of my favourites for instant flavour kicks along with ‘nduja and miso), I will share some below the recipe. For now, gather your ingredients for this one. I got the mussels at my local farmer’s market but you can use any fish you like, although just use enough for you to eat), this would also go really well with pork or chicken. Gojuchang is a good mixer! Just like ‘nduja.
Where to buy gojuchang?
Most supermarkets stock it now, as will any Asian supermarket. It is sometimes described as a red pepper paste.
I especially love Korea Foods in New Malden which is a treasure trove of Korean ingredients and housemade ferments but unfortunately they don’t seem to sell online. If you live nearby, don’t miss it!
In London, there are four branches of Korean shop Oseyo, and one in Manchester and they have gojuchang as well as every other Korean ingredient you might desire. I love it and shopped there regularly pre lockdown. You can buy from them online too (the soy bean paste is a treasure too) https://hmart.co.uk/shop/en/61-red-pepper-soybean-paste
In Dublin, Asia Market stock it https://www.asiamarket.ie/
If there is somewhere you think should be on this list, please let me know!
- 500g mussels, cleaned (discard any that are open and don't close when you tap them)
- 2 fat cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp gojuchang
- 300ml cider
- 50ml cream (dairy free cream is fine, and you can also leave it out or use coconut milk)
- 12 leaves wild garlic, coarsely chopped
- fresh coriander leaves to finish
- 2 tbsp three cornered leek flowers or fine sliced spring onion
- sea salt (if needed)
- olive oil for frying (or whatever oil you use)