Turn up the heat with a little gochujang

Bring some warmth to cold winter evenings with this one-dish dinner

Once you have a tub of gochujang in your fridge, you’ll be dipping into it for everything

Once you have a tub of gochujang in your fridge, you’ll be dipping into it for everything


If you’re a fan of fermenting, then you’ll already be familiar with gochujang, or at least the taste of it. It’s a fermented chilli sauce consisting of chilli, glutinous rice and soy. It has a distinctive heat, with a fermented umami flavour and sweetness. Once you have a tub of it in your fridge, you’ll be dipping into it for everything.

I mostly use gochujang to make my own kimchi at home as it’s an essential component of that. But it’s also great to cook with, adding a teaspoon to kimchi soup, noodles, a dressing for roast vegetables or a marinade for ribs and chicken. 

Gochujang is readily available online and in stores. Take a look in your local Asian food store. Sriracha chilli sauce or a Thai chilli sauce make a good substitute once you add a dash of soy sauce for that fermented soy sauce umami flavour. 

In 2020, all sorts of chilli and hot sauces became a huge trend. There are a few possible explanations for the spike in sales and usage. With lockdown in full swing, people were stuck at home and cooking for themselves more often, discovering new recipes and trying to recreate their favourite restaurant dishes. We were unable to fly off to warmer climes, so instead we reached for the Thai chilli sauce to bring some sweet heat.

In 2021, the number of chilli sauces entered into the Great Taste Awards grew by 30 per cent. At one stage, sales of Lao Gan Ma chilli oils were up 1,900 per cent at the online grocer Sous Chef. So chilli sauce is hot right now. It definitely adds a kick to what could be a humdrum dish. 

I’m a big fan of Rebel Chilli, made in Cork. Its raspberry jalapeno sauce is amazing in toasted cheese sandwiches and perfect for festive cheese boards. It also makes a Korean barbecue sauce that’s quite addictive and so versatile. 

I like to serve this week’s delicious recipe with kimchi on the side, or it can feed six if served with rice. It can also be served at room temperature over salad leaves for a great winter salad. Just set aside a tablespoon of the gochujang dressing and mix with the juice of a lime to dress the leaves. 

Recipe: Korean chicken bake