509: Gochujang

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:00

Hi. I'm Matthew and I'm Molly and this is spilled milk The show where we cook something delicious. Eat it all and you can't have any.

Molly 0:10

Today's episode was suggested by a listener Jin Daisy from Reddit.

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:14

Thank you, Jen. Daisy. And we are talking about gochujang.

Unknown Speaker 0:17


Molly 0:19

We are recording this episode again from the park.

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:22

Yeah. This just the relish the three relish picnic just happened. Yeah,

Molly 0:27

yeah, we record for those of you who don't know we generally record two episodes when we record and we are full of hot dogs and ready to talk about Korean condiments.

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:37

Okay, let's do it.

Molly 0:38

Yes. Okay, Matthew, can I start Memory Lane? So I think the first time I had go to john was with you actually at a place called the place it's no longer in existence. blue stone

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:51

was really good.

Molly 0:52

On Denny here in Seattle. We went there and had dosa at BB bop. And I remember watching you to kind of see how I should like season it. Yeah, using go to Jong and what's the other stuff?

Matthew Amster-Burton 1:06

Let's see what other stuff would there have been? I only remember that go to john.

Molly 1:11

Great. Okay. Anyway, it was a wonderful introduction. And my spouse is half Korean and really wants to go to South Korea one day I do too. So maybe someday I will actually have more experience with go to town but I have cooked with it now plenty at home I'm in my fridge. It's delicious. And I want to talk more about what all the flavors are that are going on in there because it doesn't taste like any other spicy chili paste.

Matthew Amster-Burton 1:43

Okay Yeah, we'll talk about it so I first first encountered go to john in a bourbon Bob context as well and the the chili sauce that comes with BB Bob is not is not straight go to john because go to John's is very like thick viscous paste. Yes, but it's thinned out. You know, sometimes sometimes just with water, like if that's all you got, but usually with like vinegar, sesame oil, and maybe a couple of other things. And it will often be served like in a in a red like ketchup squirt bottle at a Korean restaurant, which is very fun. So the first time I had it was at the mill Korean restaurant at 113th and Broadway in Manhattan. This was would have been like fall of 1998. And Laurie was going to grad school at Columbia and we lived uptown and I would like try all the restaurants around Columbia University Morningside Heights street Did you sit on? Well, we I mean, we sat wherever we wanted.

Molly 2:37

What street did you live on?

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:39

West 100 and 21st Street,

Molly 2:41

like at 100 and 21st. And

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:42

Broadway, between Amsterdam and Broadway? Yeah. Oh my gosh,

Molly 2:45

have we ever discussed this? I mean, that Brandon used to live when I met

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:48

Brandon. That we both shopped at there at the red apple supermarket.

Molly 2:52

Yeah. Wow. Okay, somehow I just forgot that. And you guys were only there like four years before I met Brandon.

Matthew Amster-Burton 3:00

Yeah, it's an amazing coincidence. Wow. Okay. Um, yeah, no, I I loved our student housing on 100 and 21st Street, it was New York, it was great. And so I had read in probably timeout, or possibly Eric Asimov's 25 and under calm about the mill Korean restaurant, which has been there for 35 years now. And it's still still growing strong as far as I know. And they talked specifically about the dole sod, bourbon Bob and how it was rice served and a hot stone bowl so the rice would get crispy and topped with vegetables and meat and a raw egg and you could add hot sauce. And I'm like this. I've never heard of this dish before. And it sounds like it was invented with me in mind. So I went there, like probably the same day and got this for lunch. And it was so good. And I remember like peeling the rice off of wearing you know, it's stuck and crisped against the hot stone bowl and putting on lots and lots of this hot sauce that I really didn't know anything about. But like, you know, had like, a more like he says like a more complex flavor than like a typical, you know, more so I would say that like it's her racha or like, Tabasco. Yes.

Molly 4:13

Okay, so what what is this stuff?

Matthew Amster-Burton 4:15

Okay, so go to job which is the basis of that sauce is a is a Korean chili red chili paste, and it's used as an ingredient in lots of dishes, if it's thinned out enough to be spoonable, or portable or squeezable as a condiment. And it is relatively sweet.

Molly 4:32

That really surprised me the first time I had it. It's so distinctive in its sweetness.

Matthew Amster-Burton 4:37

Yeah, I think part of what makes it what it is, is that it's made with like a syrup like it could have corn syrup in it or barley malt syrup, or something like that. That gives it like a real stickiness. Yeah, like when you pull go to jog spoon it out. Like it's very satisfying stickiness. Yeah. That comes through even like you know, if you've like put it into a stew like somehow like that smooth sugary undertone is still still present.

Molly 5:02

Well I'm thinking of Didn't you make doc bulky? Yeah. Did I pronounce that correctly? Yeah. Or reasonably? Didn't you make that recently?

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:11

I made it yesterday.

Molly 5:12

And do you feel like it gets some of its body from guttridge?

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:15

Absolutely yeah cuz it's not like I made a really like simplified version just with like the cylindrical rice cakes. like onions Nagy that you gave me that you got at the farmers market kimchi. No, no kimchi just just just like a lot of go to die like a third of a cup. Wow for two servings. Okay, a little bit of chili flakes, some maybe a little rice vinegar, and just kind of stew it and yeah, so it gets really like all the body is from is from go to dog but it's like got a really good texture.

Molly 5:45

Okay, so Okay, so it comes in various heat levels right?

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:49

Yes. But I would say like the most popular one is pretty mild buy hot sauce standards i think i think this is kind of true of Korean food in general like like the the red chili flavor and color is really prized and there's you know you can get Korean food that is very spicy but overall like it is it's I feel like it's more a chilly forward than a heat forward cuisine

Molly 6:14

so like the flavor of chili

Matthew Amster-Burton 6:16

Yeah, yes. And so like like I say you can you can use like a lot of go to john in a stew or a you know, duck bookie or a stir fry and you know it'll be beautiful and color and lots of flavor but will not be like knock your head off spicy.

Molly 6:30

So what gives it the the kind of not it's not a fudgy texture but it's pointing in that direction? No, no, I RGB so like Okay, so what's in there? You got you're saying maybe some corn syrup or like barley syrup?

Matthew Amster-Burton 6:42

Yeah, and dried red chili flakes that like commercial go to john which is like most of what people use these days is very smooth. So it's made with really finely ground. Red chili flakes, glutinous rice powder, usually like mochi mochi rice. Okay, definitely part of that fudgy texture Okay, ground fermented soybeans usually and salt and a sweetener like corn or barley syrup. Okay. And it's fermented so and that's that's the other big part of flavor so it has it as like you know, soybean fermented soybeans added and there's and you pick up some fermented character from that, but then the sauce the paste itself is fermented for several months. Okay,

Molly 7:21

so like do people make their own is this is this a thing where, you know, people like families have a crock of gotu jonge sitting around aging

Matthew Amster-Burton 7:30

so I think that is something that was true until recent history. So based on based on what I read, I will probably link to an article about the history of go to john before about the early 70s most families in Korea would make their own and now nearly all of it is made commercially and it usually when you go to like h Mart or you know i think i think they even sell it now like at ACU FC it comes in a in a red plastic box

Molly 7:57

yes mine is in a red plastic box with like a lid that pops open like a like a treasure chest sort

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:02

of it's very satisfying like I once bought stuff like in a round glass jar and like the product was exactly the same they're like this just doesn't feel right

Molly 8:10

so now so I'm thinking wait a minute I'm thinking me so often comes in a rectangular yeah vessel too but it always has a totally separate lid the

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:18

lid isn't always falls off

Molly 8:20

the lid always falls off like like Korea not that far from Japan. Why don't they take a hint in Japan and

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:29

start to go to justic me so box is really puzzling because like Japan is very good at packaging.

Molly 8:36

Yeah the miso box drives me insane

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:39

Yeah, that is weird. Okay, okay, we need to get to the bottom of that but so back to go to jog which comes in a very satisfying box so yeah, so if you go to to like an H Mart, like a Korean supermarket there'll be like a whole section like like half an aisle of of go to jog and like you know different spice levels and different brands at different sizes including you can get a really big like you know a kilo or multiple kilos of go to jog and also in the same section will be lead to other like seasoning pastes of Korean cuisine which are done john which I don't know if I'm pronouncing correctly which is more equivalent to me so it's a non spicy soybean fermented soybean paste that one comes in like a tan box and then some john which is like ready to use for for spreading on like a psalm roll and that one comes in a green box and that's that's kind of a mix of go to john and and john john and a little little bit chunkier usually

Molly 9:33

Okay, so some john is in a is usually in a green plastic box. Yep. Oh my gosh, I love this.

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:38

Like it's it's one of the most visually satisfying like supermarket aisles I think

Molly 9:44

I feel like it they should have an ad for it. That's like you know, collect all three kinds of thing

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:49

that is a good idea, you know,

Molly 9:50

because you would want to view them together. refrigerator door.

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:55

Okay. I don't think I currently have all three and I want now I want to collect all three. I need to like Did you know that there they are building an H Mart at Capitol Hill train station? No like there's gonna be an H Mart within walking distance of me

Molly 10:07

and there already was an H Mart dot from you this is very excited is very clearly happy to be very happy I hope it's not like the depressing Ballard target

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:17

I think it's gonna be good

Molly 10:18

okay okay one of our listeners tagged me in an Instagram post about like horrible mini targets oh right and I talked about I felt so seen I felt so heard thank you I can't remember which was so target I know how do you miss a target? I

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:34

feel like I could do it I could design a mini target that would be great right? Yes I know what all the best things to target are

Molly 10:40

obviously I would love to see your target we should do instead of like my own you know my my fantasy supermarket my fantasy target

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:48

Yeah, we That's right. We did a fantasy supermarket yes fine. Fantasy target that's like I love that let's do it right now because I love I love like the sheets and towels section at Target that's main thing because he is just a sheets little sheets and towels

Molly 11:04

I also really like the the like party favors and party supplies section. I mean, especially in the past few years they have like really gotten like on trend there. And it's very fun

Matthew Amster-Burton 11:17

and of course the trail mix and mix nuts section like my friend My friend Sarah work. Shout out to Sarah who knows that I'm really into target mix nuts and will like guy if we if we like you know, don't haven't haven't chatted in a while she'll like get in touch and say like, have you ordered any target mix nuts recently? And the answer is always Yes.

Molly 11:36

Oh, that's so sweet.

Matthew Amster-Burton 11:47

How would you describe the flavor of go to jog just like based on your taste to memory?

Molly 11:52

Well, so I you know, it is something I struggle to describe. It is. I think that the first thing that I noted the first time I ever had it was of course that it was sweeter than I expected. And I would say that it is compared to many other chili paste or chili sauce type things. It is less acidic. Yeah, so that's something I think about it too. Like it's it is smoother both in flavor and texture.

Matthew Amster-Burton 12:23

Yeah, when I make sauce for bourbon Bob like if I'm like in a hurry, I will usually just thin it with rice vinegar. I like the sound of the rate combination.

Molly 12:32

I love the sound of that because I do often find that for my taste. I want the flavor of go to junk but with a little bit more acidity. Yeah.

Matthew Amster-Burton 12:38

I'm really like on the on the like hot hot, sour, salty. Sweet axis is really like hot and sweet.

Molly 12:44

Yes, yes. What about sourness?

Matthew Amster-Burton 12:47

Is there much there's a there's a little bit of sourness from the from the fermentation but like, it's, it's interesting because like, I don't really think of commercial coaching chocolate at least as having much of like a fermented funk. Like he definitely fermented character though, because that's that's definitely what's bringing a lot of the complexity because like, it does not taste like you know, just a combination of dried chilies and corn syrup. You know, it is much more complex than that because of the because of the fermentation. And I don't really know what the fermentation process is and why it's like producing like, you know, such such like a roundness, I guess, compared to like other fermented like chili products that I'm thinking of right like like a like a you know, the ceremonies like chili bean paste. Yeah. duliban Jong, that has like a really like intense, funky fermented character, probably because it's fermented much longer. Okay, he's a big part of it.

Molly 13:42

Do you have any sense of how long go true Chong is or commercial?

Matthew Amster-Burton 13:45

fermented a few months like like, probably less than six months? Whereas like a Joe bun John's probably fermented like over a year.

Molly 13:53

Okay, that makes sense. So, what else do you use it in in cooking you know, we talked about duck balki which is the Korean rice noodle or you know, rice cakes do

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:05


Molly 14:06

What else?

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:06

The thing that I realized as I was as I was like, looking at a bunch of Korean recipes and salivating and putting my things on my list of things I want to cook this summer is there are a lot of Korean dishes that use like a large amount of chili flakes and that's where they get the chili flavor and red color from and there are also dishes that use go to john and some that use both but like some dishes that I sort of expected to be made with go to john are more commonly made with just a large amount of dried chili flakes

Molly 14:37

and do you think I mean so in that sense is go to john more a condiment?

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:41

I think it's really both because like the sauce for like like when you get the spicy Korean fried with go to john but I guess that is that is like sort of condiment de Yes. But I made I made like like braised short ribs that I put both go to john for like, the fermented character like really like that, that likes smoothness This is like kalbi shortridge

Yeah, okay? But like, like a Calvi. jeem Okay? And so and also some chili flakes as I wanted, I want to kind of both both characters to come out. So okay, so like Jerome young. I like the cold cold chewy noodle dish is usually made with coaches. That's really tasty. Okay on a hot day. Oh, Aaron and Claire if you've ever if you ever like looked for anything like Korean recipes on YouTube Aaron and Claire is a great YouTube channel. Aaron Aaron is the cook the cook and Claire is the taster Okay, and they they have a lovely rapport. And Aaron is very funny. And they did a recent video called four new ways to enjoy go to john and they're all like very simple like stir fry and soup and stew recipes that any of them could be done in half an hour.

Molly 15:52

Nice. Okay, so that's Aaron and Claire.

Matthew Amster-Burton 15:54

Yeah, and of course you can use it in non Korean recipes as well like you know, you can marinate with it you can use it as a sauce for steak, it'll be really good like go to john Mayo I feel like it was really a thing a few years ago and I assume if you like a Mayo oriented dip you would enjoy

Molly 16:10

there's something about so that you know the sweet and hotness of that I think would lend itself well to smokey things like I wonder Yeah, we would do as like a like a marinade that if you're then grilling or in a as part of America Yeah, I

Matthew Amster-Burton 16:23

think I think because it has a lot of sugar you have to be careful about burning it Yeah, like but i think i think people are like used to navigating that Yeah. And like as like something to like brush on like as as the food is finishing grilling, I think would work fantastically well.

Molly 16:37

What is this here? I see that you said Korea sets a hotness index for red pepper.

Matthew Amster-Burton 16:44

Okay, so I'm googling around and I find this article from the Korea Herald for 2010 and the headline is Korean Korea says hotness index for red pepper paste. And here's a quote from the article, Korea will introduce an official official labeling standards for the hotness of Korean red pepper paste or go to john by the end of this month in an effort to promote exports of traditional food products. The scale runs from one to 100 plus g h u which stands for hotness or hot taste units.

Molly 17:12

Oh my god go to john Have

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:16

you ever heard of this before? The scale runs from one to 100 plus below 30 is mildly hot over 100 is extremely hot. And the the standard medium that's the most popular is 45 to 75 gh us Oh

Molly 17:30

my God, I'm gonna check my fridge when I get home.

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:32

So I was like, like, I don't know if this really happened. Like I'm gonna check my fridge. Sure enough it was right there on the box.

Molly 17:38


Matthew Amster-Burton 17:39

Yes, but now now that I know this now I know what to look for if I would like to try a spicier one. And so like next time I'm at h Mart I'm going to look for one that's like, you know in the 100 GHQ range. Wow. Yeah.

Molly 17:50

Are they reading anything else? I mean, kimchi can be spicy.

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:54

Yeah, so according to the article, they were planning to apply the scale to kimchi and

Molly 17:59

like, go to Jong hotness units.

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:02

Like weather gear k twos. I don't think this ever happened. Like I couldn't find any other references to it. I have not seen hotness units on a kimchi jar. I don't know how would you rate yourself in hotness? You

Molly 18:13

have to think about it. This is not something you can do for yourself.

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:17

Yeah. Close trusted friend right now Exactly. Cuz I don't want to like start like rating other people at hotness unit. Yeah, that's not cool.

Molly 18:25

We're not supposed to do that. I mean, not unless you do

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:30

a real pause.

Molly 18:31

I mean, what are spouses for if you can't talk about

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:36

other people? I mean, you can you can rate your spouse in a hot this year, as long as the rating is very high.

Molly 18:42

No, I was saying that. Like, don't you hang out with your spouse or the hotness of other people? Yes, but

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:48

I think it's the like apply actual units that makes it feel gross. Yeah, right. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, that is fair.

Molly 18:55

So this is uh, this has been illuminating Matthew Thank you.

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:58

No, thank you to wait like kimchi and go to john and go to God who are all very common ingredients in Korean dishes and there's like you know, they're they're three different ways of making something giving something guy like he Tina's for manliness and and a vibrant red color and are just used like, you know, like, very there's like a whole swath of Korean cuisine that's that's based on like, is this is this dish made with kimchi? Like you know, a kimchi stew? Is it made with go to jog? Is it made with gotu Gato or is it going to be a combination?

Molly 19:30

Wait go to Gada or the flake? Okay, so those are not fermented

Matthew Amster-Burton 19:33

those are those are not fermented but like they're you know, because they are usually pretty mild they are they're used almost like a vegetable because you can put a huge amount in without without overpowering it was Bice

Molly 19:48

Well, thank you, Matthew. I'm going to go home and and and look in the mirror and decide how many gh use I have. Okay. I'll also open my fridge and look at my go to guy I mean

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:00

Rate themselves. 100 plus, that's my opinion.

Molly 20:02

Yeah. I mean, why not?

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:04

100 plus, which is extremely hot. So what I said extremely hot. Okay. All right. It's time for a segment that we like to call now but wow.

Every time like I don't listen to our show that often, but when I do I really appreciate the the segment theme songs that Abby has come up with.

Molly 20:28

It's all it's all producer Abby. And

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:30

so now when I say the name of the segment, I want that to play in my head. Abby, can you figure out how to make that work? Okay, Matthew,

Molly 20:37

what have you got for us this week? What are you into? Alright, it

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:39

is time for a culinary mystery. And by that I mean, I mean, a mystery book. I'm not gonna like lay out a mystery. Oh, it's there to solve. Okay. And this book, which i think i think is doing really well, because teenager, the show December who doesn't typically listen to read mysteries, as far as I know, was familiar with it. It's called arsenic and adobo by mia manansala. And it is a cozy culinary mystery, I would say but in the world of Filipino cuisine, okay. And the main character is Laila who moves back home after a breakup and she's working at her aunt's Filipino restaurant and and noxious food blogger who is also her former boyfriend yet after eating a poisoned dessert at their restaurant, and so obviously you know, the the cops aren't doing it doing budget so live I have to solve the crime. Clear her family's name and reopen the restaurant. And it is it is fun mystery. I'm about two thirds of the way through and I think I know who the killer is, but I'm hoping to be surprised.

Molly 21:37

We are cozy mysteries like a genre did I miss that cozy

Matthew Amster-Burton 21:40

mysteries? genre so like typically it's like like if there's a cat helping someone solve a mystery that's a Cozy Mystery.

Molly 21:46

Would Agatha Christie be a cozy?

Matthew Amster-Burton 21:49

I think Agatha Christie is more like like flood classic or like orthodox mysteries.

Molly 21:54

What about like, the Louise Penny books? Armand gum OSH is the the detective haven't read one. Okay. She's Louise Penny is a Canadian mystery writer.

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:04

Basically, a Cozy Mystery is like the the point is like, you know, you enjoy the characters. And you're not going to get too upset about anything that happens in the book, even though there's going to be some murders. Okay, so it's really gonna be cozy murders. They're gonna be cozy versus somebody will

Molly 22:20

get buried with their cat. They're gonna be fine, right?

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:24

Will the cat dead the cat? Oh, okay. Yeah, if

Molly 22:27

a human dies you have to kill their cat too, so you can bury it.

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:30

Oh, no. Wow, I did not say that.

Molly 22:33

I live version of cozy mysteries involved maybe

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:39

murdering a cat. Yeah. Okay, this is that would not be a Cozy Mystery that would be upsetting this Cozy Mystery a cat solves the murder.

Unknown Speaker 22:47


Matthew Amster-Burton 22:48

okay. All right. Oh, so yeah, so it's ours naked adobo by mia manansala and the the sequel homicide and hollow hollow will be out next year.

Molly 22:56

Great titles. Okay. All right. So

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:58

our producer is Abby, sir. catella please rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts. Get in touch contact at spilled milk podcast or on the Reddit reddit.com slash are slash everything spelled melt. Let us know what you're doing with go to john. I feel like there's a lot that we missed.

Molly 23:13

Oh, for sure. And wait, Matthew, we were going to shout out one of our favorite Korean cookbooks.

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:20

Yes. Yeah. So if you have not done much Korean cooking at home and are kind of not sure where to start Aaron and Claire on YouTube is a great place to start. But also there is a book that I really enjoy called cook Korean by Robin ha and it is a is a cookbook in the in comic graphic novel form.

Molly 23:38


Matthew Amster-Burton 23:39

Not novel but in comic form. Yeah. So it is beautifully colorfully illustrated and has lots of great recipes and is perfect whether you're a beginner or not

Molly 23:49

fantastic. So that's cook Korean by Robin. Ha.

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:51

Thank you for remembering that indeed. All right. Thank you for listening to spilled milk. The show

Molly 23:55

that scraping the crispy bottom

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:59

of the barrel. Hi, Matthew Amster-Burton Hi, Molly. weisenberg really been killing it on the other closing jokes. Thank you.

I'm Matthew and

Molly 24:13

I'm Molly and this and this is Oh my God,

Unknown Speaker 24:15

I messed up.

Molly 24:18

Okay, try again.

Matthew Amster-Burton 24:20

Okay, so the first time we've ever messed up the intro,

Molly 24:23

we never do this. Nope.