Gochujang, the fermented Korean chili paste, might not yet be a household condiment like Sriracha, but it should be—it's just as versatile and delicious. Thick with a hint of sweetness, it's got a great chili flavor but very mild heat.
If you've ever had bibimbap, the Korean mixed rice bowl that comes topped with chopped vegetables, beef, and an egg in a hot stone pot, the red sauce on the side is mainly comprised of gochujang. It's a great ingredient for marinades that need a little heat or in stir-fried dishes. Today, I'm using it in a salad dressing for a light salad of greens, vegetables, and chicken poached in sake.
The key to tender, perfectly poached chicken is to place it in a pot of barely simmering liquid, cover the pot, and remove it from heat. As the liquid slowly cools, the chicken gently heats, preventing it from overcooking. The result is moist and tender.
For the dressing, I use a couple tablespoons of gochujang thinned out with toasted sesame oil (another classic Korean flavor), some mirin (a sweet Japanese rice wine), and rice wine vinegar for a kick of bright acidity. The finished dressing should be thick but pourable.
Thinly sliced cucumber and red onion are the two vegetable elements in the salad. Make sure to slice the onion just before serving so that it stays mild in flavor.
Finally, some watercress and mixed baby lettuces are the base for the salad. Normally I'd toss my salad in dressing, but for this one, I like to drizzle the intense dressing on top so that you can take as much or as little as you'd like with each bite.
About the Author: I was born in Guangzhou, the birthplace of dim sum, and raised in the Chinatown neighborhood of Philadelphia. As a sibling-less child, cooking was a way to cure after school snack attacks and a way to keep myself entertain. That's how my love for food and cooking started, and it continues to grow. I blog at friedwontons4u.com and I am on twitter @friedwontons4u.