Gochujang is the sauce you want for your Super Bowl wings
I'll admit, I have a thing for condiments. My refrigerator is full of them. Mustards, chutneys, ketchups, mayonnaises and so on. And I love them all.
But lately, I've been reaching for one condiment more than any other. It's what some people call Korea's answer to ketchup. But gochujang (pronounced GO-choo-jong) is so much more wonderful, complex and versatile than a basic ketchup. I promise, this is a condiment you want to get to know.
Just in the past year, gochujang has become a darling of the food scene. Chefs around the country love the way it dances across the taste buds, lighting them up with shades of heat, sweet, savory, smoke and a gentle funky tang. Made from red chilies, fermented soybeans, rice, salt and sugar, this thick red paste is a mainstay of Korean cuisine.
In Korean cooking, gochujang is used as a base for stews and marinades, as well as a feisty condiment for one-pot dishes such as bibimbap (a rice bowl usually topped with meats, vegetables, pickles and a fried egg).
I first encountered gochujang when I lived with two Korean-American women after university. I remember watching Sara make herself a quick lunch of steamed sticky rice wrapped in small squares of seaweed and topped with a dollop of gochujang. It was deceptively simple, but one bite and the complexity of the briny seaweed crashing against the sweet heat of the gochujang had me reaching for her entire lunch.
These days, gochujang is on my breakfasts of scrambled eggs and vegetables. Mixed with soy sauce and vinegar, it makes a quick marinade for meats. I even add a spoonful to pasta sauces, chili and salad dressings for a little meaty depth. But my favorite? These easy baked chicken wings. Add some chilled cucumber spears dressed lightly with sesame oil and salt, and you've got a Korean-inspired answer to the ultimate Super Bowl snack.
• Food Network star Aarti Sequeira is the author of "Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul." She blogs at www.AartiPaarti.com.