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Low sodium "gochujang"

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

This sauce is inspired by gochujang--the red sauce that is usually served with bibimbap at Korean restaurants. Gochujag is usually made with gochujang paste, which has as much as 500 mg of sodium per tablespoon. My low sodium sauce has just 4 mg per tablespoon. It's great on bibimbap, or any rice or noodle dish, really.

Servings: About 1 3/4 cups

Sodium: 4 mg per tablespoon Time: 20 minutes


2-4 tablespoons sugar**

8 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons unsalted tahini

2-4 tablespoons sesame oil**

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup coarse pepper flakes

1 teaspoon unsalted mustard (or 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard)

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Pinch of bonito flakes (optional - leave this out to make the sauce vegan)

water, as needed, to thin out the sauce

*Use whatever kind of soy sauce/coconut aminos fits into your diet, and then add water to dilute it to 1/2 cup.

**I used to use 4 tablespoons of both sugar and sesame oil for this recipe, but I've since cut it down to 2 tablespoons of each just to make it a little bit healthier.

Combine all ingredients except sesame seeds and water in a blender (or large measuring cup if you have an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. The sauce can be as thick or thin as you like it. Add just 1 tablespoon of water at a time to thin it out. I like mine about the same consistency as barbecue sauce. Once blended, stir in the sesame seeds. That's it!

I used to boil the ingredients before blending but I don't think that's really necessary. You can do that if you like and the sugar will dissolve more quickly.

I buy my pepper flakes at a Korean market but they're available on Amazon and have zero sodium. I wouldn't suggest substituting this with the dried chili flakes that you put on pizza. Those are much easier to find but they don't have the right flavor. The sauce keeps refrigerated for at least two weeks. If it gets a little thick in the refrigerator, thin it with a little hot water before serving.

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