Time: 10 minutes for the queso, plus 40 minutes for the quesadillas
Yields: about 1 1/2 cup queso, makes 2 large quesadillas
After watching a show on Food Network that featured Roy Choi who runs Kogi, a Korean BBQ Taco Truck in LA, I was inspired by his story, his passion for cooking and altogether unique vision. A few days later, while making a batch of vegan queso (more on that in a minute), I decided to pull out the tub of gochujang from my refrigerator with the intent to combine them together. I scooped up a generous amount of the thick red paste, plopped it into the steaming hot vegan queso and gave it a whisk which yielded a bright neon orange sauce.
But how did it taste? Gochujang queso is a nicely balanced dip that clings beautifully onto tortilla chips or drizzled over quesadillas. It delivers a spicy kick of heat that’s tempered by the richness of the vegan queso, and finishes with a little flourish of umami that makes you want to keep scooping it up.
Back to the queso. A couple of years ago I made a vegan quesco blanco dip with full-fat coconut milk and coconut vinegar, with tapioca flour added for stretch and agar to firm it up just enough to a queso consistency. It was startlingly similar in texture and flavor to the dairy-based version I used to eat years ago and missed. Since then, I’ve drizzled it over sweet potato quesadillas or scooped it up with tortilla chips, and it’s fantastic.
Here I’ve combined mashed sweet potato and crushed peanuts with kidney beans and corn, and finished with some crispy sauteed shallot rings, quartered cherry tomatoes, scallions and fresh cilantro. A drizzle of the gochujang queso adds a tiny smack of heat that pleasantly builds without burning out your taste buds.
for the gochujang queso
1 recipe vegan queso dip
1/4 cup gochuchang
for the quesadillas (also tastes great with tortilla chips)
3-4 cups cubes sweet pot
1 cup kidney or black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 tsp olive or canola oil
2 shallots, sliced into thin rings
4 large soft tortillas
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup crushed peanuts
1-2 scallions, chopped
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
lime wedges, optional
vegan sour cream, optional
First, prepare the vegan queso (recipe here). If you like spicy, add in 1/4 cup of the gochujang and add more as desired, whisking until smooth. If you are not sure, start by adding one tablespoon, adding more as desired. Cover and set aside or place into a small crockpot to keep warm.
To prepare the quesadillas, place the cubed sweet potato into a steamer basket. Add a few inches of water into the bottom. Cover and steam over medium-high heat until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Place the kidney beans and corn into a skillet and give them a little saute over medium heat until warm, then transfer to a bowl. Add the oil to the same pan and throw in the shallots. Saute until golden and slightly crispy, then remove from the heat. You can just leave them in the pan.
Mash the sweet potato. Lay two soft tortillas onto two plates, and distribute the sweet potato evenly over the top. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, then sprinkle the crushed peanuts over the top. Next, add the kidney beans and corn, then the crispy shallots, scallions, cilantro and tomato.
Place the remaining two tortillas over the tops, press down slightly, then cut each into four pieces using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Serve immediately with the gochujang queso and, if desired, the vegan sour cream and lime wedges.