Give Your Chicken Alfredo A Spicy Twist With Gochujang

Anyone who's eaten pasta and chicken smothered in a buttery, creamy Alfredo sauce knows it's a magnificent, if not entirely heart healthy, indulgence. Yet, we can't help but feel like it sings a one-noted melody; since Alfredo is mainly composed of butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese, getting through a whole plate of it can get a bit boring. It's hard to think of a better remedy than the addition of that spicy, umami Korean miracle food known as gochujang paste

Gochujang is usually made from just four ingredients: spicy red gochu chilies, sticky rice, barley malt, and a fermented soybean flour known as meju. Once mixed together, the gochujang is then fermented for months. The result is a deep red, spicy, tangy, and sweet umami paste that defies easy classification and basically belongs everywhere. There's a reason gochujang has been a staple of Korean cuisine for several hundred years. But wouldn't it be too much of a flavor clash to introduce gochujang paste into a creamy pasta dish? Doesn't it more properly belong with traditional Korean ingredients like ginger and scallions? The short answer is no; a longer one involves balance and enhancement.

Mash-ups are the heart of culinary advancement

A good chicken Alfredo is deeply satisfying, right up until you hit the wall of butter and cream saturation. This is why you'll often see Alfredo dishes made with Cajun blackened chicken. While we utterly adore this particular culinary expression, gochujang offers even more depth and complexity of flavor. Like a good Cajun spice blend, it also has a foundational kick — and savvy home cooks know that spiciness is a great way to balance sweetness, in this case provided naturally by the butter and cream of an old-school Alfredo sauce. 

Alfredo sauce is basically a creamy, lightly sweet foundation on which to build the additional layers of fermented tang, dried red chili heat, and sticky rice sweetness that gochujang will provide. You can use it either as a marinade for the chicken or as an addition to the Alfredo sauce: figure out which expression works best for you. What we can guarantee is, if you're not already looking for ways to include gochujang in most of your favorite dishes, you soon will be.