Recently I started teaching myself Korean cooking and I noticed that one of the core ingredients – Gochujnag – has gluten in it. Gochujang is the Korean chili paste used in several dishes including Bibimbop. I went to many different Asian markets, including the Korean H Mart, and read the labels of every brand. Every single gochujang I saw sold in Seattle has gluten in it. You will likely be getting gluten exposure when ordering any dish at a Korean restaurant that uses chili paste. Sneaky gluten filler is exactly what I discovered when I researched commercial gyro meat.
For this post, I want to thank Gluten-Free Veg-heads UNITE for their post Gluten-Free Victory!! Spicy Korean Bean Paste. They spotted in Wikipedia how commercial production of gochujang took over in the 1970s and this was likely when gluten became a staple ingredient. Probably because it is cheap and acts as a preservative. Why it is there is of no concern to me. The important thing is that I can make my gluten-free version. Using the recipe from Shizouka Gourmet converted by Veg-Heads and then adjusted by me, I made my own.
- 1 1/8 cup water
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup Korean chili powder
- 1 cup miso paste with no MSG or Gluten
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
The directions are posted with photos on Korean Cuisine: Home-Made Gochujang. Here is the summary.
- Add water and brown sugar to a pan. Heat until sugar is dissolved.
- Add Miso and keep heating until dissolved. Use a wooden spatula. Keep going until everything is smooth.
- After most of the water has dissolved, add the Korean chili powder and stir.
- When big bubbles start appearing, turn off the heat.
- Let the paste cool and little and then stir in salt and rice vinegar.
- Jar paste. Shizuoka Gourmet says it should be good for a year.
I avoid soy unless it has gone through a fermentation such as miso or natto.
Korean red pepper flakes.
Making the Gochujang.
I’ve made 3 clay pot dishes using my gochujang. They tasted great and without gluten. My gochujang was a little more on the sweet side than spicy. When I make this again next time, I will increase the amount of chili powder. At some point, if I continue to be interested in Korean cooking, I may ferment my gochujang. Note that the Maangchi tutorial is not gluten-free, so the recipe would need to be adjusted.
UPDATE November 2013: There now exists a commercially available GF gochujang.