Meet: Gochujang

Gochujang is a fermented pepper paste made with red chile, soybeans, glutinous rice and salt, aged in the sun inside large clay jars.

Sriracha fanatics, take note: Your singular devotion to the famed "rooster sauce" might be causing you to overlook a solid contender in the spicy condiment game.

What is it?

Gochujang is a fermented pepper paste made with red chile, soybeans, glutinous rice and salt, aged in the sun inside large clay jars. Considered one of three essential condiments in South Korea, it is omnipresent in the culture, used in everything from soups, stews and marinades to topping classic dishes such as bibimbap and naengmyeon. The spicy and sweet concoction is so popular that it is used as a base ingredient for other condiments, including chogochujang (a sour, vinegary sauce) and ssamjang (a traditional dipping sauce with sesame oil, onion and garlic).

What do I do with it?

Although not as trendy as Sriracha, gochujang has the same flexibility as – if not more than – the hugely popular sauce. It has a slow, less-aggressive heat and a pleasant sweet and spicy balance, making it ideal for adding punch to mayonnaise and ketchup. Throw it over eggs, on stir-frys, or use it as a meat marinade. It amplifies other Asian sauces wonderfully, and works especially well with peanut-based varieties.

This spicy version of the classic peanut butter cookie might sound equal parts strange and appealing; indeed, it is both. The inherent sweetness of the gochujang melds beautifully with the peanut and coconut flavors, while the heat provides a spicy yet not overpowering finish to the soft, crackle-style cookie. This dessert is a must-try treat for hot sauce enthusiasts.

Spicy Peanut Gochujang Cookies

You might have to do some hunting, but gochujang can be found in ethnic and Asian markets and in many larger supermarkets in the St. Louis area.

Yield | 48 cookies |

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup gochujang

| Preparation | Preheat oven to 325˚F. Add coconut chips to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add egg, beating on high until combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add peanut butter, gochujang and processed coconut chips, beating on medium high until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl again. With the mixer on low, add flour mixture in two parts, mixing each until just combined.

Remove dough from bowl and shape into two flat discs. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours until firm.

Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.

Remove one disc from refrigerator and roll into 1-inch balls. Place 3 inches apart on prepared sheet pan and bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Cookies are finished baking when puffed and slightly crackly on top, but have taken on no color. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze dough or baked cookies tightly wrapped for up to 2 months.

Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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