Time: 1 hour
Gochujang! If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s a Korean chili paste made from fermented soybeans, red chilis and glutinous rice. It’s been popping up more frequently in Food Network shows and sprinkled throughout issues of Bon Appétit lately, so I headed down to the Super 88 Market in Malden to pick up some for myself.
When I got home and peeled back the cover, it revealed a thick and deeply crimson red paste. The first taste revealed a richly complex flavor with a dominant tone of umami, a nice heat level, a tiny bit of sweetness and a touch of saltiness. Although it’s traditionally used to make Korean Bibimbap and Bulgogi, I decided to use it in a sauce to spoon over piping hot baked sweet potatoes as a first try.
Since I made this last week, I can’t get enough of it: the sweet potatoes kind of melt into the gochujang and peanut butter, while the darkness of the toasted sesame oil helps round everything out. The textural elements of the shallots, scallions, sesame seeds and peanuts sprinkled around the edges gives a nice contrasting crunch to each bite that mingles perfectly with the softness of the sweet potato. While I mandolined and layered the sweet potato here, it can also be mashed for a quicker, no-fuss main course or side dish.
for the potatoes
One large sweet potato
2 TB peanut oil
for the sauce
2 TB toasted sesame oil
1 cup shallots, finely chopped
3 TB mirin
1-2 TB gochuchang
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB peanut butter
black and white sesame seeds
Preheat your oven to 375.
Drizzle 1 TB of the peanut oil onto the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron pan and tilt to coat.
Drizzle the remaining 1 TB of peanut oil over the top, then cover with tin foil and place into the oven to bake for about 35 minutes.
While your potatoes are baking, make your sauce. Warm the toasted sesame oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add in the chopped shallots and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir until smooth. Set aside.
Once your potatoes are done, remove the tin foil, then spoon about 3/4 of the mixture around the ring of the cast iron pan, then drizzle some of the liquid in the sauce over the center portion. Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes more.
Sprinkle the edges with the peanuts, scallions and sesame seeds, and serve with some of the extra sauce on the side. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
* You can also boil or bake chunks of sweet potato and serve mashed with the sauce if you don’t have the time or feel like slicing and spiraling the potato.