When I go to restaurants I normally eat bibimbap plain. That is, when you order bibimbap, they often serve it with a thick red sauce on the side known as “cho-gochujang (or “chojang” for short). It’s a condiment made with gochujang (Korean red chili paste) that is slightly sweet, slightly spicy (or very spicy depending on the gochujang used. Most restaurants do not serve it very spicy), slightly tart, and slightly savory. Adding it to a bowl of bibimbap really elevates the flavor and makes it more complex.
However, a common culprit found in cho-gochujang is corn syrup. Or oligo-syrup made with corn. And if the restaurant isn’t making their own and buying premade in bulk, there’s also likely to be corn starch too. In addition, people have their own recipes and flavor alterations they like…. Soy sauce and wheat can be additives too. It’s hard for the Korean restaurant staff to know what’s in their unlabeled bottles of cho-gochujang. So I just don’t try it.
Corn syrup is easily replaceable. Honey is the premium sweetener of choice, but I’ve found maple syrup to work just as well. you can also sub for plain sugar and just dilute it a bit more with water.
I personally don’t like my cho-gochujang very sweet and prefer to highly the savory and vinegar flavors more. Add more sweetener if you’d like.
Korean Sweet Red Pepper Sauce (Cho-Gochujang)
- 2 TBSP gochujang (korean red pepper paste)
- 1 TBSP rice vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp honey (or maple syrup or other sweetener of choice)
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp salt (just a pinch) to taste
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl2 TBSP gochujang, 1 TBSP rice vinegar, 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tsp honey, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp salt (just a pinch)
- Serve drizzled on top of bibimbap or on the side as a condiment