Gochujang—Korean Hot Pepper Paste

Gochujang—Korean Hot Pepper Paste

Gochujang / Photo Credit: abcnews.go.com

Gochujang is a Korean hot chili paste made by naturally fermenting sun-dried red chili powder, sweet rice, soy beans and salt while contained in large earthen pots called Onggi. Containing abundant nutrients including protein, vitamin B2, vitamin C, carotenes and more, Gochujang has been registered with the Codex Alimentarius Commission, an organization that aims to maintain and promote food quality on an international level. Of the health-benefiting components found in Gochujang is capsaicin, which emerged in popularity in the food and health industry in the recent years for its antibacterial and anticarcinogenic effects.

Gochujang is a commonly found ingredient of many well-regarded Korean dishes and it is also consumed in conjunction with certain foods. The spicy yet sweetly savory flavoring of Gochujang is prominent in dishes such as Bibimbap, Topokki, marinated meats and various stews in Korea.

Sundried Red Chilli Pepper / Photo Credit: busangonggam.kr

History of Gochujang

The first use of Gochujang in Korean cuisine can be dated back to the 16th or early 17th century. The popularity of the red chili paste quickly spread throughout the country, its uses becoming diverse, as it was used to add spiciness not only to cooked dishes but also to other Jangs such as Doenjang and Ganjang.

The Jeungbo Sallim Gyeongjae, a historical Korean document on agriculture from the 18th century, describes the consumption of Maljang powder—made from beans—with red chili powder, after ripening in the sun. Making Gochujang involves similar processes, suggesting shared origins.

Health Benefits of Gochujang

  • Gochujang contains the digestive enzymes amylase—which breaks down starches, and protease—which breaks down proteins. This makes Gochujang a great digestive aid, especially when consumed with other foods such as meat.
  • Capsaicin, a naturally occurring compound responsible for the spicy taste of red chili peppers, is also a big component of Gochujang. It includes antibacterial properties. Research suggests that Capsaicin can aid in reducing body fat, and that this effect increases as Gochujang is matured for longer periods of time.
  • Gochujang maintains the health benefits of red chili peppers, containing an abundance of beta-carotene and vitamin C that have antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic effects.

[Source: Hansik.org]

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