Getting Saucy in South Korea

By Kyle Voong

Korean cuisine covers a multitude of flavors, including spicy, sweet, savory, and more! However, these flavors would be impossible to capture without the amazing sauces that give Korean dishes their flavor. While Korea has a variety of delicious sauces, here are just some of the most well-known!

Doenjang (Fermented Soybean Paste)

While talks of fermented soybean paste may taste similar to Japanese miso, they differ in their methods of fermentation (miso is fermented using fungus, while doenjang is fermented using bacterial cultures). It is commonly used as an ingredient in making other sauces and cuisines, and can also be eaten in its original form with raw vegetables.

Chunjang (Black Bean Paste)

With a delicious blend of savory, salty, and a little bit of sweet, chunjang is one of the most delicious bean pastes you’ll find! Commonly used in jjajangmyeon and jjajangbap, chunjang adds an extremely rich and savory flavor to any dish it’s introduced to. In the world of Korean sauces, this paste has bean pleasuring peoples’ palates in the Korean-Chinese food scene!

Gochujang (Pepper Paste)

Want to add a spicy kick to any dish? Gochujang is the sauce for you! As a mix of peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and various seasonings, gochujang is a surefire ingredient that adds both spice and a unique Korean flavor to your food! Whether you use it to make more complex sauces or eat it with your favorite dishes, you can never go wrong with gochujang!

Yangnyeom Sauce

Notorious for its delicious use with Korean fried chicken, yangnyeom sauce is a delectable sweet and spicy sauce. This is the typical sauce that people think about when they imagine Korean fried chicken and for good reason: it imparts a sweet and spicy flavor while still retaining the crispness of the fried chicken.

Ssamjang

Fresh #ssamjang always lookin’ so fine 😍❤️🌶

A post shared by Sara Upshaw (@kimchihalfie) on

Commonly used in lettuce wraps, known as “ssam” in Korean, ssamjang is a common sauce found in any occasion where grilled meats are involved. While it’s mainly known for its spicy and strong flavor, it also contains traces of green onion, garlic, sesame oil, and even some sweetness if brown sugar is used when making ssamjang. While it can also be used as a dip for veggies and peppers, ssamjang is an amazing addition to grilled meat dishes.

While other countries have many popular sauces, like marinara, bolognese, and hollandaise, don’t shy away from the wide variety of Korean sauces and pastes! Korean sauces are unique in that they usually carry very prominent undertones as an accent to the main flavor.

Have you tried these before? If so, which one is your favorite?

Written by Kyle Voong

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