If curiosity got the better of you and you chose to pick up a flaming red tub of gochujang, know that you can use the sauce in the same way that you might use Japanese miso paste. The sauce can add both heat and flavor to marinades for meats that eventually end up on a grill or barbecue, and it can be stirred into the ubiquitous Korean bulgogi — the barbecue dish that My Korean Kitchen translates as “fire meat.” Gochujang can also be used to flavor up hearty soups and stews, and it can add umami to dipping sauces.
Today says that the Shake Shack iteration of gochujang was the result of a collaborative partnership with its Korean culinary partners “to develop a version that remained true.”
Before you call out Shake Shack for messing with the original, know that households used to have their own unique versions of gochujang, from family recipes prepared by grandmas or great-grandmas. In Korea, the fight is on to keep the art of making gochujang at home from dying on the altar of modernity (via BBC). But even as they want to keep the old ways alive, traditional gochujang makers like Jeong-seon Bu don’t seem fussed about seeing gochujang served up in 21st century squeeze bottles, and as part of a sriracha mayo, fusion-style combo. As she told the BBC, “It’s a good opportunity to create new food culture.”