Vegan Versions: Gluten Free Korean Style Red Pepper Paste

by Maria Theresa Maggi on January 1, 2015

Korean Style Red Pepper Paste

One of the most fun things I learned after discovering Fat Free Vegan Kitchen nearly 7 years ago now was the custom of eating black-eyed peas and greens at New Year’s time for good luck in the coming year. If you haven’t had your black-eyed peas yet and are wondering how to fix them, here’s Susan’s compendium of favorite FFVK black-eyed peas and greens recipes, Black-Eyed Peas and Greens for a Healthy New Year. Two of my favorites are among the Asian style recipes: Black-eyed Pea Masala and Koreans Black-eyed Peas and Kale Bowl.

When I made the Korean Inspired Black-eyed Peas and Kale Bowl a couple of winters ago on my Tuesday night dinners with my friend Clark, I knew he likes things a lot more spicy than I usually do, so I bought a bottle of the Korean red pepper paste Susan talks about in her post, known as gochuchang, or kochuchang or gojuchang. Susan has a recipe for a mildly spicy sauce at the end of her recipe that calls for a very little of this traditional paste, and I knew Clark would want extra.

It wasn’t until later that I realized it also had wheat starch and soy in it, and so shouldn’t be something I ought to eat on an regular basis (makes my nose run). Alas, I had fallen in love with the smoky taste of it and Korean flavoring in general, so I  ordered a bag of Korean red pepper on Amazon that will probably last me the rest of my life, and searched internet for a gluten free alternative recipe. I found one that contained a whole cup of miso (to provide the fermentation a traditional recipe would require) and, well, it just wasn’t quite right to me.

Meanwhile, I had also tried making a soy free version of this Vegan Korean Mushrooms and Tofu Stew at Spice Island. There is a recipe within the recipe for a seasoning paste for the stew that I decided to adapt into an oil-free approximation of gochuchang. I don’t claim that it’s authentic, but if you follow the cooking directions to cook the paste for about 10 minutes, stirring it all the while, you will end up with an amazingly delicious spicy paste to add to millet, stir fried veggies, and your new year’s serving of black-eyed peas. My adaptation will keep well in a glass jar in the fridge for at least a week, probably longer.


My New Year's Day Lunch: Napa Cabbage, millet, black-eyed peas with Korean Style Red Pepper Paste and extra green onion and ginger

My New Year’s Day Lunch: Napa Cabbage, millet, black-eyed peas with Korean Style Red Pepper Paste and extra green onion and ginger

May your new year be spicy in all the best ways!


Maria (moonwatcher)




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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pam January 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

We’ve been eating black eyed peas the last few days, as Darren couldn’t find the black beans he was craving! Your red pepper paste sounds great!


2 moonwatcher January 6, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Thanks Pam! I enjoyed the first batch so much I’m making a second batch, so I’m right there with ya on the black-eyed pea trail. 🙂


3 Veronica January 6, 2015 at 8:08 pm

I love gojuchang! I did find one that didn’t have wheat in it, but not one without soy. I never thought of making my own; and I do have a big bag of that Korean red pepper (the same one you pointed to) that I got for making my own kimchi. Of course it can be used for homemade pepper paste. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


4 moonwatcher January 7, 2015 at 9:16 am

Hi Veronica, and sister-gojuchang lover! 🙂 It’s nice to know I have company in the Korean red pepper-for-life club! 🙂 I’ve used it to make my own kimchi as well. Tasty spicy stuff. I’ll be intrigued to see what a good cook like you comes up with for your own red pepper paste. I bet you might make it even a little spicier than I did. xo


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