Creamy Gochujang Noodles
I went to a popup dinner in a warehouse in Venice with some friends recently (does this make me sound cool and trendy?). The pasta course they served was creamy gochujang spaghetti laden with strips of tender squid. It was creamy and spicy, tangy and sweet all at the same time, and as soon as I slurped up the first forkful I knew I had to recreate it. I wanted to pare it down so that it was an easy recipe that just about anyone could whip up for a quick dinner, a pasta sauce from scratch with minimal effort.
If you aren’t familiar with gochujang, it’s a Korean fermented chili paste that adds some sweet and savory heat to any dish. In this recipe it’s whisked together with a base of shallots, garlic, tomato paste and cream. It can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores these days. I like to keep my fridge stocked with gochujang so this recipe requires little to no shopping or foresight. Plus most of these ingredients are under $1.00 so it makes for a cheap meal that can feed multiple people.
1 pound spaghetti
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons gochujang
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Pour in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid then drain the noodles and set aside. Toss the noodles with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Return the pasta pot to medium heat, then add the remaining olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt then add the shallots and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, just a few seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and gochujang, cooking for just 30 seconds to mellow the acidity. Whisk in the chicken stock until smooth then whisk in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the pasta and toss to combine slowly add the Parmesan until the sauce is smooth; add the pasta water 2 tablespoons at a time if the sauce is too clumpy.
Divide between warmed pasta bowls and serve hot. Top with sesame seeds (optional).