Hot pepper paste

Gochujang 고추장

I’m thrilled to introduce you to my homemade Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang) recipe today. Yes, eventually! Over the years so many of my readers and viewers have requested the recipe for gochujang, but I thought I couldn’t make it until I visited Jamie Frater’s house in New Zealand during my Gapshida trip last year. To make good, well-fermented gochujang, you need good quality ingredients, an earthenware pot to make it in, and a sunny place for it to ferment. Making gochujang is easy, but taking care of it requires lots of patience and hard work.

Gochujang needs direct sunlight, so after you make it you need to open the earthenware pot on sunny mornings to let the sunlight hit it, and be sure to cover it in the evening. You have to stir it sometimes and turn it over from the bottom to the top so that it’ll be mixed and fermented evenly. As time goes on, your gochujang will turn shiny and turn a richer red. If you go outside to meet your friend but it suddenly rains and you forgot to close the lid, your gochujang will be spoiled.

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Besides this, gochujang  should not be made in the heat of summer or it will ferment too fast and explode. One of my Korean friends studying in the USA brought a container filled with his mother’s homemade gochujang on the airplane. He took it in his carry on. A long time ago, it was possible for people to bring gooey stuff like hot pepper paste, soybean paste, and even kimchi on an airplane. We have so many funny stories about this.

So my friend’s gochujang exploded on the airplane. Store bought gochujang is processed to stop fermenting, but homemade gochujang never stops, just like kimchi. The gas from the fermentation process kept pushing the lid of the container until it blew up. My friend’s mother must have packed it tightly with plastic bags and tape.

I’m living in an apartment in Manhattan without a patio, so it seemed impossible for me to make something that needs lots of direct sunlight to ferment well. Well-fermented gochujang is really delicious, and a totally different flavor from gochujang bought in a store. For a delicious meal you can simply mix it with warm rice, chopped kimchi, and sesame oil.

So on my Gapshida trip, Korean food fan Jamie Frater invited me to his house to cook together. We filmed my popcorn chicken gizzard recipe video and the next day we filmed this gochujang video. The cameraman, Ryan Sweeney, is also a big fan of Korean food.

Jamie was waiting for me with all the ingredients for gochujang as well as Korean earthenware pots: onggi. He brought these from a trip to Korea that he won in a Korean food blog contest 2011 on the basis of his Korean food writing.

This Korean gochujang was made in New Zealand and taken care of by Jamie for months. It’s really international!

gochujang

Makes about 16 quarts

Ingredients

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Directions

  1. Mix 8 liters (32 cups) of water and 2 pounds of barley malt powder (yeotgireum) in a large basin
  2. Strain the mixture and put it in a large heavy bottomed pot.
  3. Heat it up on the stove for about 20 minutes until it’s warm. Dip your finger in to test it: it should be warm, not hot.
  4. Remove it from the heat and add sweet rice flour. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Let it sit for 2 hours. The liquid on the surface will look a lot clearer, and it will taste a little sweet.
    gochujang
  6. Bring to a boil for about 2 hours over medium high heat, until it reduces by ¼-⅓ (about 28-30 cups).
    *tip: Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot.
    gochujang
  7. Add the rice syrup and mix well.
  8. Remove from the heat and wait until it completely cools down.
  9. Add mejugaru  and mix well. Then add  hot pepper powder and mix well. Lastly add salt, and stir until there are no lumps in the paste.
    gochujang
  10. Transfer it to an earthenware pot or glass jar and cover with mesh or cheesecloth before closing the lid.
    gochujang
  11. It will take about 2-3 months to properly ferment. During that time it’s best to open the lid and let it sit in the sunlight during the daytime, and close it at night.

Jamie updated me recently about his gochujang with a few photos and emails. I missed the gochujang a lot! Jamie loves the texture and flavor of it, which made me very happy. Thank you very much Jamie for your effort taking care of the gochujang and updating us! Many of my readers will be encouraged to make their own homemade gochujang because of him.

He emailed:

“The gochujang came out great! It is a little thicker than commercial gochujang but I don’t think that is a problem at all. The flavor is deeper and slightly less salty than store bought pepper paste which is good I think. The hot New Zealand summer sun took great care of our precious paste! I can’t wait to see our video! I have attached 5 of the best photos I took of the gochujang.”

gochujang

gochujang

gochujang

Well fermented gochujang! The top layer looks dark red and a little dry! I can almost smell the aroma from this photo!

gochujang

Beautiful gochujang is showing off its bright red color! Thank you my gochujang! You grew up well, thanks to Jamie! : )

gochujang

On the left is homemade gochujang, and on the right is store-bought gochujang. A big difference!

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141 Comments:

  1. Mi Heui Iran - Tehran joined 5/16
    Posted June 7th, 2016 at 4:07 am | # |

    망치 언니 안녕하세요? ^^
    I can’t find 메주 가루 in korean grocery store in my town But i start to 된장과 국간장 project ^^
    i washed carefully 메주 blocks after fermented but some fungus to exist inside the 메주 blocks and dried in the sunlight for 1 day , can i put one 메주 block in a food processor and make 메주 가루 and add in 고추장 ?!can i use ?! is it OK or NO?!
    정말 감사합니다. ♡♡


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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 7th, 2016 at 11:53 pm | # |

      Your meju looks well and nicely fermented. Don’t worry about the white fungus inside the meju because it’s good bacteria. But you can’t use this for gochujang making, it’s different than what you need.

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  2. oliveva United States joined 8/14
    Posted June 3rd, 2015 at 5:38 pm | # |

    I did find this non-gmo fermented soybean powder:

    http://www.rockwellnutrition.com/Natural-Soy-Powder-Organic-GMO-Free-by-Vital-Nutrients_p_658.html#.VW9zemRViko

    Do you think it would work as the meju powder?
    Thanks so much for your time!!
    Eva

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  3. Marja-Aurinko Montreal, Canada joined 5/17
    Posted May 28th, 2017 at 2:54 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi! I made some gochujang last week and it has started to ferment under the sun. I think it looks pretty good, I wanted to show you! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe. These craftsmanship skills are amazing, and showing people how to do it is really the best present evveeeerr. Annyong!


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  4. EnricM Hilversum, the Netherlands joined 6/13
    Posted March 11th, 2017 at 7:52 am | # |

    hi Maangchi,

    I just found this recipe while searching for inspiration for banchan for tomorrow’s Korean meal.

    The commercial gochujang seems to have alcohol added, in any case the fermentation seems to do just this: Yeasts fermenting the ingredients to create alcohol as opposed to lactic ferments creating vinegar in Kimchi.

    I think that there is a way to stop the fermentation of home made Gochugaru, namely with sulphites in the same way as we do in beer and cider brewing (yes, I’m homebrewer). Sulphites are used before bottling to stop fermentation but also to kill wild yeasts and only allow our own beer or wine yeasts to grow.

    I am of course also going to give your Makgeolli recipe a try!

    I may give it a try later in the spring / summer, as here in Holland we don’t get too much sun.

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  5. Shikin Singapore joined 2/17
    Posted February 23rd, 2017 at 3:16 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi, i’ve been trying to contact you since last year but never once receive any reply but i understand that u are a busy woman… hehehe i have a couple of questions.
    1) i could not find mejugaru in Sg search whole sg but not available…. is there any substitution? Can i make it myself? If yes, can you teach me (video/explain)? tried amazon but it does not ship to Sg:(
    2)Can it expired?
    3)Can it be use right after making or should i wait till it fermented? how long will it take?
    4)I bought barley malt but the shop gave me really coarse barley malt.. Should i grind them first?
    Thats are the qns i have in mind now… had all the ingredient bought except mejugaru…
    Thanks
    PS: Really need ur help….

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted March 1st, 2017 at 9:47 am | # |

      I have never made meju-garu but if I learn how to make it, I will make a recipe and post it on my website. “I bought barley malt but the shop gave me really coarse barley malt.. Should i grind them first?” No, you don’t need to grind it.

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      • Shikin Singapore joined 2/17
        Posted March 1st, 2017 at 10:29 am | # |

        Thank for your reply… i really appreciate it…. If thats the case can i just omit mejugaru?
        Thank you.. May ask u about question 2 and 3.?

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  6. Monimoni London uk joined 11/16
    Posted November 23rd, 2016 at 6:56 am | # |

    Hi Can I substitute the mejugaru with Doenjang Soybean Paste as I cant find this ingredient.
    Thanks

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  7. sussiesu Singapore joined 11/16
    Posted November 6th, 2016 at 6:20 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi, thank you for your recipe! My 고추장 came out a little dark (I used normal 고추가루 my fault) and a little too thick. It tastes more salty than sweet. Should I add more rice syrup to make it less thick and also more sweet? Or I can leave it just as it is…I’m quite happy with my first batch..can’t wait to make my second batch even better!


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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted November 9th, 2016 at 12:09 am | # |

      Congratulations on your gochujang!
      You can thin it out. Mix rice syrup and water and boil. And let it cool down and stir it in your gochujang.

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      • sussiesu Singapore joined 11/16
        Posted December 30th, 2016 at 4:14 am | # |

        Hi Maangchi! Thank you for the advice! My gochujang now looks like this after two months, it’s still slightly thick but I can still thin it even after two months? How do you know if it’s well fermented? My gochujang have been ‘exploding’ out from my 옹기 for the past few days…

        Happy new year!!!


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        • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
          Posted January 3rd, 2017 at 11:48 am | # |

          “My gochujang have been ‘exploding’ out from my 옹기 for the past few days” This line makes me confirm your gochujang is well fermented.
          When you taste it, you will taste deep earthy aftertaste.
          Yes, you can thin in out if it’s too thick. Next time if you make gochujang again, make it thinner because it will get thicker over time.

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    • Shikin Singapore joined 2/17
      Posted February 24th, 2017 at 8:22 am | # |

      Hi i see that you managed to make ur own gochujang. I assume you manage to get all the ingredients? As you know im from Sg too. Try to get mejugaru but failed. May i know how/where you get it? Been/called all korean store in Sg but no postive answer. Thank you.

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      • sussiesu Singapore joined 11/16
        Posted February 24th, 2017 at 9:03 pm | # |

        Hi Shikin! Yup I managed to make my own gochujang (: bad news is you really need to buy the mejugaru direct from Korea (which I did). Do you need some? Cos I still have some mejugaru from last time…if you’re want to make some halal gochujang, I have another recipe which is much easier and doesn’t need mejugaru. Or if you need some halal gochujang, I don’t mind giving you a small container of mine to try..i’m also looking for testers hahaha

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        • Shikin Singapore joined 2/17
          Posted February 25th, 2017 at 10:32 am | # |

          Hi how nice of you….i really want to make my own gochujang… Yes i want to make the gochujang that does not contain alchohol(halal)….. Tried the alternative which is simple (cant deny) but i dont feel satisfied as to me its cheating and the taste is different. Further more, i really want to get my hands on the gochujang making in the traditional way.

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        • Fxxrxs88 Singapore joined 3/17
          Posted March 27th, 2017 at 10:19 am | # |

          Hi. I have been wanting to make this but not able to because I can’t find the mejugaru. Where did you find it in Korea? I couldn’t find it even in Lotte Mart.

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  8. Benniehanas Arizona joined 9/16
    Posted September 5th, 2016 at 9:54 pm | # |

    Where do I buy a larger pot like yours for fermenting?

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    • Inches Chicago joined 6/16
      Posted September 16th, 2016 at 9:07 pm | # |

      There are korean grocer listings in the forums. I found lots of Onggi at Super H-mart.

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  9. Inches Chicago joined 6/16
    Posted September 4th, 2016 at 7:31 pm | # |

    Does “strain” mean what you did squeezing with your fingers to mix the malt powder? Or are you supposed to strain out the cloudiness? I left all the malt powder in when I added sweet rice flour.

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    • Inches Chicago joined 6/16
      Posted September 15th, 2016 at 9:36 am | # |

      Maangchi, I have three jars that sit in the morning sun. I have coffee filters over them with a rubber band. Sometimes I leave the lids off for a few days because they are covered well.

      Is it important to close to lid to restrict oxygen to the fermenting things?

      In my oongi I have little white fuzzy patches of mold. I removed them. Why is that?


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      • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
        Posted September 20th, 2016 at 12:55 pm | # |

        “In my onggi I have little white fuzzy patches of mold. I removed them.” The top of the hot pepper paste should be exposed to more direct and strong sunlight. Sunlight helps the paste not only ferment but also is a natural disinfectant.

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        • Inches Chicago joined 6/16
          Posted March 16th, 2017 at 6:18 pm | # |

          Hello again! My gochujang is now 7 months old. I left it alone with the lid on for several months and it got a little bit slimy on the top in my oongi. I started stirring before I noticed the slime, but I removed as much as I could after.

          It does not smell and it is not green or white – only a little dark red/brown.

          I have them back in the sun and will remember to take their lid off to breathe and get sun more often.


          See full size image

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  10. Mi Heui Iran - Tehran joined 5/16
    Posted August 19th, 2016 at 1:04 pm | # |

    Hi dear
    Sunday i made gochujang. I used sea salt in my gochujang. After that put gochujang in my earthenware pot, test my gochojang it’s spicy and salty.
    I shuld add some syrup in my gochujang to be sweet or no it’s ok?
    Thank you my chef~ ^^

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted August 21st, 2016 at 11:30 am | # |

      Spicy and salty gochujang will be ok but you can add syrup anytime if you want. If you decide to make your gochujang a little sweeter, thinner, and less salty, boil some syrup with water. Then let it cool down thoroughly and stir with the gochujang. Good luck!

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  11. meena Australia joined 8/16
    Posted August 2nd, 2016 at 6:38 am | # |

    And after it has reduced to almost half, the color is much darker than your, it’s like a milk chocolate color, brown. Please tell me what to do.

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted August 2nd, 2016 at 9:50 am | # |

      It sounds good to me! You still can make gochujang with it. Add meju-garu, hot pepper powder, salt, and mix it together. My only concern is it (the fermented liquid ) might be so thick that your gochujang might turn too thick. While you mix the ingredients, add a little by little and see the density.

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      • meena Australia joined 8/16
        Posted August 3rd, 2016 at 2:26 am | # |

        Thankyou so much for replying on time. I finished the ingredients. You were right, it’s very thick, but I didn’t want to change the proportions so I added everything according to the recipe. It there a way to make it a bit thinner? Or maybe just use it like this. I have never tasted this thing before, so I don’t know what to expect but right after mixing, I has a taste of it and I could pretty much only taste Salt and milk chilli powder. I asked extra hot chilli powder but it’s more like the paprika used in the west, which is powder capsicum. Will the flavours change after fermentation?

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      • meena Australia joined 8/16
        Posted August 3rd, 2016 at 7:02 am | # |

        This is what it looks like,a little darker than yours and much thicker. It doesn’t fall off the spoon, I used another spoon to take it off the spoon. Very thick. Is it ok like this?


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        • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
          Posted August 9th, 2016 at 11:50 pm | # |

          What does your gochujang look like now? Is it still very thick? If so, this is the way I would try. Boil some water with some rice syrup and salt and let it cool down. Then add it to the thick gochujang a little by little, stirring until the consistency is like apple sauce. Sprinkle some salt on top of the gochujang. Good luck!

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  12. meena Australia joined 8/16
    Posted August 2nd, 2016 at 5:08 am | # |

    Maangchi! I went to another city to get ingredients and spent over $50, started making today and accidently added the rice syrup before boilingand cooking the mixture. Now it’s boiling to reduce to 1/3 WITH THE RICE SYRUP. Please tell me is this going to affect the end result too much, should I just throw it out? Please reply soon

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    • kimchiwife Australia joined 1/17
      Posted January 17th, 2017 at 9:44 am | # |

      Hi !

      I’m in Australia too ! Would you mind telling me where you got your stuff? I have been searching Korean shops but haven’t had much luck in finding 메주 가루.

      I’m in Queensland.

      Thanks !

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  13. Mi Heui Iran - Tehran joined 5/16
    Posted May 20th, 2016 at 8:36 am | # |

    Hi dear i have a question about 고추장 => in my cuentry haven’t any rise syrup but i have caramel syrup and honey and just find corn syrup. Can i use corn syrup or caramel syrup or honey in 고추장 resipe ?! Wich one is better for 고추장 resipe?! 나를 돠주는데 정말 감사합니다. ♡♡

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 21st, 2016 at 6:39 am | # |

      Yes, you could use corn syrup. Good luck!

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  14. crazycook Pune, India joined 4/16
    Posted April 18th, 2016 at 2:16 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi,
    i am big foodie and chef with small food point, i love Bibim Guksu so much and its main ingrediant is gochujang sauce which i want to make it available at my place in local price, so i am trying to make gochujang sauce with indian ingrediants except bean paste which i will use korean for sure as i have korean friend here who have korean restra here, i just need your help with other ingrediants, for example can i make it with minimum ingrediants to cut the price, i have some chillies in my mind for substitute and rice. also main problem is here now days temp is reaching 45`C so is it will be safe to make it in this weather

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  15. innerspacesuit joined 11/15
    Posted November 27th, 2015 at 3:48 pm | # |

    Hi,

    Thanks for the recipe!

    I made this a year ago and it tastes ready to eat now. How long can I keep this and how to recommend storing it? I have about 5 liters :)

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    • Cutemom Indonesia joined 3/13
      Posted March 4th, 2016 at 11:26 am | # |

      U should keep it in the fridge

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  16. kevinz joined 7/15
    Posted July 14th, 2015 at 10:01 pm | # |

    It is in the 90’s currently here in Charlotte NC. Can I keep this next to a window inside my house where the temp is a steady 25 celsius ? Most days are sunny here in Charlotte. Also what size pot is that you are using?

    Thanks,
    Kevin

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  17. Kiwipan joined 6/15
    Posted June 23rd, 2015 at 1:25 pm | # |

    Hi! I’m allergic to fructose… do you know of any alternatives I can use for making Gochujang? I’m in LOVE with it but I don’t know what syrup I could use…

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  18. oliveva United States joined 8/14
    Posted June 3rd, 2015 at 5:28 pm | # |

    Hi, So I was wondering if anyone has found a brand of fermented soybean powder (mejugaru) that states on the package that it is non-GMO?
    Thanks,
    Eva

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  19. eclipseyesmile joined 3/15
    Posted March 23rd, 2015 at 6:43 pm | # |

    Hi! We barely get sun at all and it’s snowing in Finland, is there another way to ferment the gochujang, perhaps, with the oven?

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  20. jordanmattes Arlington, WA, USA joined 11/11
    Posted February 24th, 2015 at 5:54 am | # |

    Is diastatic barley malt going to work? It’s the kind of malt that still has active enzymes, which I think is the same as the Korean type roughly. The Korean type is unavailable here in my current state of Montana, or online anywhere I know of, so it’ll be nice if this will work so I can make gochujang this summer.

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