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Inside UK gochujang trends with consultant development chef, Philli Armitage-Mattin

The Korean condiment gochujang is on the rise in the UK, with AI-based trend platform Tastewise revealing that the ingredient grew in vegan home cooking by an impressive 155% between January and September last year.

They also revealed that menu penetration for gochujang grew +46% a month on average across the UK during the same time period, going so far as to say that the condiment “is poised to replace sriracha as the new hot sauce on UK tables.”

This week, we took a look at some interesting gochujang-influenced dishes in UK restaurants (and further afield), with Philli Armitage-Mattin – consultant development chef and MasterChef: The Professionals 2020 finalist – actually dedicating the month of March to the Korean condiment on her recipe/cooking-focused Instagram account and YouTube channel.

Sporting the #gochumonth and #gochujanggang hashtags, Philli is posting cook-alongs based around the use of gochujang, with PURE NPD dropping her a line to discuss the on-trend sauce, what dishes she likes to use it with, and the other Asian condiments that interest her in this space.

Where did you first come across gochujang – and what do you like about it?

“I first came across it in Seoul, South Korea, and saw how it was made in a factory. It is fermented in the winter months, for about 4-6 months in total – quite a lengthy process!

“I love the balanced flavour and spice, you can add it to pretty much any recipe, boosting spice without being overpowering – it offers sweet-spice, with a fermented umami tang.”

What do you mainly use it with, and what are some of the interesting combinations you’ve seen?

“It is mainly used in chicken dishes as seen in the likes of my KFC (not Kentucky fried), but Korean fried.

“Gochujang is naturally vegan therefore it lends itself well to plant-based cookery. But I like to use it in non-traditional ways – Asian ingredients in non-traditional Asian dishes.

“For example, I’ve used it in a spicy tomato-sauce dish with baked eggs – my take on a Korean inspired shakshuka.

“I’ve also explored it in a kimchi béchamel-cheese bao bun dish by incorporating the gochujang into the bao bun itself, and it just oozes cheese with the spice running through it”

Where do you think the gochujang trend is heading?

“There are a lot of passionate people in my community that are celebrating it and I think this appreciation is only going to get stronger.

“It works nicely in plant-based cooking, and it can be used as a substitute for nearly any spice. I’ve used it in a pearl barley tray bake and a summer vegetable dish, with classic veggies like asparagus, purple kale and chives.”

Would you be able to use it in say – a roast dinner?

“Yes! I’d spatchcock the chicken and have it on there. It also works really well with beef – bulgogi beef for example, it’s a classic!”

Do you think that sriracha is on its way out?

“I don’t think sriracha has had its day just yet, it’s still an underlying trend within the London community. It’s more about the ‘sriracha 2.0’ now, such as Eaten Alive’s London-based hot sauces and kimchi’s.

“Sriracha and fermented sauces are known but I’m now seeing different variations (e.g. ‘live’ ferments) and new-takes on the hot sauce.”

What else are you seeing in the Korean/Asian condiment space?

“I love Asian condiments, but they’re hard to come by in everyday retail. Two other condiments which are close contenders to gochujang are:

“Ssamjang (Korean spicy dipping sauce) – it’s a Korean cross between miso and gochujang but with onions and spices running through it.

“Doubanjiang (Chinese broad bean paste) – it is made from broad beans instead if soybeans, giving a rich umami flavour with the chilli. I tend to use it as it is and straight into simple pasta dishes.”

Tastewise data says ‘spicy’, ‘umami’ and ‘salty’ are the three top condiment tastes among Brits – do you see any gaps in the current market for a condiment that fits the bill?

“It appears gochujang does fit the bill then! With the heat from the Korean pepper – gochugaru – saltiness from the soya bean powder/salt, and sweetness from the starch of the cooked glutinous rice – with the fermented umami tang.

“Other condiments that fit the bill would be a truffle infused spicy sauce, which would be quite expensive, so I’d like to see a more affordable version of this. I also like the flavour profile of anchovy – so maybe an anchovy-based condiment?

“Or maybe a green chilli version of gochujang – that would be cool.

“Western palettes are infatuated with fermented foods – I’m not sure if the likes of kimchi is as far as we can go, or whether our flavour preferences will change and as time goes on – we’ll be ready for more exotic/unusual flavours here in the UK.”

Hannah Atton
Hannah is a food and drink trend analyst, consultant and NPD expert. She was previously a cross-category product developer and trends researcher for Tesco, an NPD technologist at Bakkavor and freelance trend analyst for The Food People.

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