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What’s the next best thing you never ate?
The Food Network Kitchens staff might know. We see (taste and smell) ingredients and products just before they take their place in the national palate. Sometimes one of our on-air chefs bring them into our kitchen, sometimes we find them during restaurant dinners or in grocery stores, at home and away. Each month we’re going to share one with you, along with tips or recipes. And we know that many of you devote a good amount of time to exploring, tasting or just getting dinner on the table, so let us know what you find that might just be the next best thing we never ate.
There’s always room for more hot sauce, so say hello to a new friend: gochujang. The next best thing you may have never tasted was actually a part of my everyday meals growing up. Gochujang (a spicy, slightly sweet, beautiful dark red fermented chili paste) has been a staple ingredient in Korean households for hundreds of years. It’s used as an ingredient in stews and sauces, or simply as a dip for a snack. You may have seen it when you ordered bibimbap (mixed rice dish) at your favorite Korean restaurant. To see this special food from my childhood bloom into the next best thing — I embrace it. I see the popularity of gochujang as the first step to a greater awareness of Korean cuisine.
These days, this pungent chili paste is becoming a hugely popular condiment/ingredient in many chefs’ kitchens. Try mixing it with a little mayo or even a bit of ketchup to give your regular condiments a bit of a kick. Even adding it to your favorite BBQ sauce will give a deep, interesting flavor that will surprise anyone. Dollop some of that newfound sauce onto your burgers, dogs or as a dipping sauce for your fries. Using gochujang as an ingredient could be a lot of fun, too. Add it to your favorite chili or stews, marinades for chicken or meat, or even dressing for salads or noodles. And if you’ve ever wondered what gives popular Korean fried chicken that deep, spicy, to-die-for goodness — you can thank gochujang.