I think that we have three main sauces in Korean culinary history: soy sauce(Ghanjang), soy bean paste sauce(Deonjang) and chilli sauce(Gochoojang). They are all made through fermentation. One of the things on my ‘to-do’ list before I die is that I make these three sauces all by myself. Now at least I have made one of them: Korean fermented chilli sauce, ‘Gochoojang’.
I’ve remembered that my mum made a huge pot of this chilli sauce on one of the sunny days in Spring. It might have been February though because it is supposed to be made around that time of the year in Korea. However, in my memory it was alway done on a sunny day. When my mum was making chilli sauce in a large dining/living room of my house, there was always plenty of sunshine coming through the window. Then I was sitting next to her to be her little assistant. My mum said to me, “Bring me more chilli powder.”, “Give me that spoon to me.”, “Have a taste, what do you think?”, “Is it salty enough?” etc… And sometimes I had a chance to grab a long wooden mixing spoon to mix all the ingredients together.
Before making my first chilli sauce, I called my mum in Korea and asked her a few details about her recipe. She asked me whether I had malted barley which was one of the key ingredients to make ‘Gochoojang’ and she also said to me, “Make sure, you mix all the ingredients well before they get too cold. Or it would get too hard to mix.”
So thanks to my mum, here is my first version of Korean chilli sauce made yesterday and it will be fermented in my patio under sunshine and breeze if weather permitting!