The Unexpected Korean Ingredient Your Baked Beans Need

baked beans in blue bowl
baked beans in blue bowl - Jack7_7/Shutterstock

Are you looking for a way to spice up those baked beans? In the United States, baked beans are a staple at barbecues and picnics, and in England, you can't have a proper breakfast without beans on toast. However, if you're looking for a completely unexpected addition to this side dish, you'll have to turn to Korea. Koreans are not stranger to flavorful condiments, and Korean gochujang paste is exactly what your baked beans need.

Gochujang is a Korean red pepper paste. This thick crimson spread is loaded with flavor. It's spicy, salty, savory -- it's basically an umami flavor bomb. And, of course, like many Korean foods, it contains fermented soybeans that lend it a slight sweetness, one that'll have you reaching for more.

Together, gochujang and baked beans create a symphony of flavors that will leave your guests asking: What on earth is that mystery ingredient? And how long did it take to create baked beans with such complexity? So, if you want to impress those foodie friends, or enjoy these unique beans for yourself, keep reading. We'll explain how to add gochujang to baked beans and the best ways to serve the dish.

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How To Add Gochujang To Baked Beans

person cooking with gochujang
person cooking with gochujang - Nungning20/Getty Images

Are you ready to jazz up those baked beans? Grab a few containers of gochujang from your local Asian market or the international aisle of the grocery store and get to cooking. But before you do, you should know there are several ways to make baked beans with gochujang. You can go the quick and easy route or use a slow cooker to deepen the flavors. And if you prefer step-by-step guidance, add gochujang to one of our top baked bean recipes.

If you're a five-minute chef, gochujang is an easy way to upgrade baked beans without much time or effort. Simply open a few cans of beans and add gochujang to taste. It's easy to blend the two over the stove on low heat. Go slowly, since not everyone's taste buds can handle a lot of this spice.

Alternatively, if you have a little more time, use a slow cooker and make your baked beans from scratch. Truth be told, this method doesn't require a ton of prep time, but that extra effort goes a long way. You can create your own sauce by mixing barbecue, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, gochujang, and seasonings. Consider adding chopped bacon and onions to up that umami goodness. Once everything is prepped, let the slow cooker work its magic for four to five hours, and voilà -- you've got gourmet baked beans with Korean flavors.

Tips For Serving Baked Beans With Gochujang

jacket potato with baked beans
jacket potato with baked beans - DronG/Shutterstock

If you add enough goodies, this baked bean dish becomes a hearty meal. Think pulled pork, bacon, onions, and the like. And with the gochujang base, it definitely has enough flavor to be the main attraction. However, since baked beans are traditionally a side platter, we have plenty of ideas for how to serve them as such.

To tame its fire, serve your gochujang beans atop rice, cornbread, or a baked potato. It also goes excellently alongside slightly sweet meats, like barbecued ribs or grilled pork. At a barbecue, gochujang beans complement burgers, hot dogs, and corn on the cob. And of course, you can't go wrong with a spicy baked beans and grilled cheese combo.

Baked beans with gochujang sauce also makes an excellent game-day appetizer ideal for football season. Serve the dish as a dip with tortilla chips or Fritos, or use it as filler in tacos and burritos. If you love chili, add some baked beans with gochujang to really push it over the goal line. Regardless of who your guests root for, they'll all be cheering for your baked beans with gochujang.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.