Practically every culture has crafted a way to add chile heat to a dish.

A lot of the time, that kick comes in the form of hot sauce. In Korean cuisine, that added heat is typically from gochujang, a paste in which the essence of peppers is balanced with the fermented sweetness of glutinous rice.

Rachel Yang, chef of Joule and Revel in Seattle, uses the nuanced paste in everything from vinaigrette to soup. So we asked her for a few tips on cooking with the Korean staple.

"Its sweetness makes it very versatile," Yang told us. As proof, she even uses a little bit in a frozen soufflé with salty pistachio and apricot chutney. Like sweet-sour Italian agrodolce, gochujang is a great complement to meat, as with Yang's easy-to-make meatballs (see Yang's recipe).

It's also a great condiment: Whisk into oil for a dressing for cold seafood salad, or blend with mayonnaise for a dipping sauce for French fries.

Yang prefers the Soon Chang brand, which isn't too spicy--perfect for gochujang first-timers. The paste can be stored for several months in the refrigerator; bring it to room temperature before using.

Winter is coming; turn the heat on.