Friday, January 4, 2013

Korean Gochujang Tasting Menu

I am trying to catch up on blogging which is why I am blogging about the National Restaurant Association Show which took place back in May 2012. At the show, I had the opportunity to enjoy a gochujang tasting menu at the CJ Foods booth. For those of you not familiar with go-chu-jang, it is a Korean hot pepper paste made from red chili peppers, rice, soybeans, and salt that is fermented. CJ Foods, a huge food producer in South Korea, has developed a partnership with Annie Chun's, a California-based all natural pan-Asian food company that markets instant noodles and the gochujang sauce.

At the booth, they served samples of bulgogi (Korean grilled beef) with chapchae (made with sweet potato noodles) and ahi tuna tartare on crispy wonton. They also served a five-course gochujang tasting menu created by executive chef David Yeo. We were also treated to a short visit from celebrity chef Akira Back, a Korean-American chef at Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant and Lounge at the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

The tasting started off with a soju Bloody Mary shooter: soju is a distilled rice spirit and gochujang provided the kick. Steak tartar was the first item: Waygu beef, quail egg, micro sprouts, nori (seaweed) topped with gochujang mustard. Popcorn shrimp was next with jicama, fresh cucumber kimchi, soy bean leaf, and gochujang aioli.

The risotto was my favorite course. They stuffed the gochujang-risotto inside a piquillo pepper and served it with spring vegetables and herbed sesame oil. Cioppino contained shrimp, mussels, clams, seaweed, and kimchi in a gochujang-dashida broth. Pork belly was the final course: doenjang-soju marinated pork belly, salsify, baby carrots with sweet and spicy gochujang sauce. Doenjang is Korean fermented soybean paste, very similar to Japanese miso.

Disclosure: I received a gift bag with product samples from CJ Foods.