Hardest-working woman in the cookbook business? Springfield author Patricia Tanumihardja‘s Asian Pickles at Home debuted on July 21. Her next cookbook, Instant Pot Asian Pressure Cooker Meals, will be available to home cooks on Tuesday, Sept. 1. The official Instant Pot book was completed last year and its release was delayed due to the pandemic. “As for Asian Pickles at Home, I was approached earlier this year and I was given two months to write it,” Tanumiharja recalls. “It was such a fun topic that I couldn’t pass it up.”
Testing and creating 75 recipes in two months meant that she was working on five to 10 pickles each day. “Some of the pickles are easier than others,” says the author. “Most of them are doable for even the most novice cooks.” Tanumihardja says that she’s loved pickles since she was a little girl in Singapore, enjoying her Indonesian mother’s creations, including a native pickle known as acar kuning. Recipes come from every corner of the Asian continent and range from quick pickles to long ferments.
Ease is a selling point for her Instant Pot recipes too. Many of her mother’s favorite home-cooked dishes, like the beef stew known as rendang, required long braises. Her mother would use a pressure cooker to speed up the process, but in an Instant Pot, the dish only requires 45 minutes cooking time to reach optimal tenderness. Tanumihardja says that the Instant Pot’s flexibility makes it a great fit for varied Asian cooking. Some of her favorite dishes to cook in the gadget include Chinese congee, Taiwanese beef noodles and even soups like ramen and pho.
But home cooks will have to wait until September to learn those delicious skills. For now, Tanumihardja has graciously shared a recipe with us for one of her most versatile recipes in Asian Pickles at Home.
Korean Red Pepper Paste (Gochujang), from Asian Pickles at Home by Patricia Tanumihardja
Makes: 10 to 12 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes plus 2 hours sitting time / Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes / Curing time: 2 months
Korean red pepper paste, or gochujang, is used extensively in Korean cooking. You can find it in huge tubs at the Asian market. However, as you’ll learn from this recipe, once you have the ingredients, it’s not hard to make, and the flavor of the fresh stuff is miles better. The hardest part is probably finding the ingredients and/or waiting! You can find all the ingredients at a Korean-heavy Asian market like H Mart. Please read the labels carefully to make sure you’re buying the right ingredients: barley malt powder (yeotgirem), sweet rice flour (also called mochiko or glutinous rice flour—Koda Farms is a California-based brand), fermented soy flour (mejugaru) and Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru).
8 cups water
2 cups barley malt powder
5 cups sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
3 cups brown rice syrup
1 cup fermented soy flour
6 cups Korean hot pepper powder
¾ cup coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- Wash all your equipment with hot, soapy water.
- Heat 8 cups of water in a large pot until it reaches a temperature of about 100°F (just above body temperature). Whisk in the barley malt until smooth. Then whisk in the sweet rice flour 1 cup at a time, whisking until all the lumps disappear before adding the next cup. Set aside for two hours.
- Return the pot to the stove and cook at medium-low heat until reduced by one-third, 1 to 2 hours. Stir often to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Set aside to cool completely.
- Stir in the rice syrup, fermented soy flour, hot pepper powder and salt. Mix thoroughly, using the back of a wooden spoon to smooth out any lumps, until the mixture is shiny and creamy.
- Scoop the red pepper paste into a gallon jar or fermenting crock. Cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Place the lid on the jar or crock. Keep at room temperature and set by a sunny window. When it’s sunny, remove the lid to expose the paste to some heat and sunshine through the cheesecloth. This will help prevent mold from forming. If mold does form on the surface, scrape it off. Add a teaspoon or two of salt and mix everything up.
- If the temperature gets too hot, move the jar to a cooler location in the afternoons. Ferment for 2 to 3 months. Once the gochujang is fermented to your liking, transfer to a container(s) with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up to one year.
Ingredient Tip: Ground Korean red pepper comes in two different grades: fine powder and coarse flakes. Buy the right grade for the recipe. Fine powder is probably the most versatile and is used for gochujang and kimchi for a brighter color and a smooth texture. Korean red pepper comes in huge bags of at least a pound. Store them in a cool dry place, away from sunlight.
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