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Bi bim bap, anyone? I used to think that was safe for celiacs, and I especially relished the thick, red sauce, gochujang, that came with it. I even found it at an Asian market and got through an entire jar before bothering to read the ingredient list. No surprise, the wheat-beast was featured prominently on the list. Dangit. So the search was on for a recipe. Unfortunately, I came face-to-face with the following line from Wikipedia:

It has been made at home in Korea since the 16th century, after chili peppers were first introduced. The making of gochujang at home began tapering off when commercial production started in the early 1970s and came into the mass market. Now, homemade gochujang can hardly be found.

Hardly be found?!?! Was this written in the age of The Internets?! Impossiblum. I set to searchin’.

Mercifully, I found two recipes relatively quickly. I tried this one first, from the Shizouka Gourmet. Since the measurements are all in grams and mL (awkward!) I’ve included the conversions below. Then just follow Shizouka’s directions. Deeeeeeeelish!

Gochujang: Korean Spicy Bean Paste

  • 1 1/8 c. water
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. + 1 T Korean chili powder (I suppose you could substitute any ol’ chili powder, but real chiliheads would cry foul)
  • 1 c. miso paste (be sure to read the ingredient list because some misos are fermented with barley)
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 t. sake
  • 1 t. rice vinegar

Woohoo! I did it! Very respectable gluten-free hoisin sauce is mine, allllll mine. And yours, too. If you want it. Let me share.

Gluten-Free Hoisin Sauce... one step closer to Gluten-free Mu Shu!

So some serious googling returned the results that hoisin is made from fermented soy bean paste, among other things. Armed with my new-found knowledge I hit Chinatown and found me some of this alleged fermented hoisin magic. The label said the only ingredient was fermented soy bean paste, but I was suspicious. Fermented with what? Wikipedia, oh great fountain of knowledge, says the soy beans are fermented using either wheat flour, pulverized mantou, rice, or sugar. Hmm… what are the odds… BAH! Until someone develops a quick and easy at-home gluten test, I’m going to avoid the sketchball Chinatown bean paste and go with what I know.

Luckily, what I know is pretty dern good.

Gluten-Free Hoisin Sauce*

  • 1/4 c. sweet red bean paste (the smooth variety)**
  • 2 T wheat-free tamari
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • dash of white pepper
  • (optional) squirt of Sriracha chili (or “Freshred Chili” if you have it)

Combine all of the above ingredients in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a week.

*Before you get all sassy and tell me that Premier Japan makes a gluten-free hoisin sauce, I want to save you the disappointment of buying and trying it. Honestly, it tastes like orange-flavored BBQ barf. Not even close to hoisin. I’m not trying to be snobby here – bleeeeve you me, my heart skipped a thousand beats when I saw it on the grocery store shelf. But it really tastes absorootly nothing like any hoisin I’ve ever had. Sad, but less so because of the above recipe.

**If you can’t find smooth red bean paste in Asian specialty markets, sweet red bean paste is easy-po-cheezy to make at home. has a recipe.

Ok, so we can’t eat Ramen anymore. But my local NPR station just interviewed David Chang, head chef at New York’s Momofuku Noodle Bar, and posted the most intriguing recipe for ginger scallion sauce. It looks absolutely divine. has reprinted it here. Substitute wheat-free tamari for the light soy sauce and you’re good to go. I can’t wait to try this over rice noodles, or 100% buckwheat soba! Hot dang!

I almost peed my pants when I saw it on the grocery store shelf. Gluten-free hoisin sauce?! Could it be? The brand is Premier Japan and it has the added bonus of being biologique, or organic. But it also has the disappointing issue of tasting like a**. It’s orangey and barbequey and not remotely hoisiney. Dang, dang, dang. My hopes were so high.

I don’t know if you guys do this but I have a running list in my head of must-cook gluten-free foods. A snippet of late:

  • gf danishes
  • gf hoisin
  • gf sourdough
  • gf dumplings

Some of the more elaborate or involved items have been sitting quietly on this list for several years. Occasionally, one gets taken off in a triumphant squeal as I either successfully collect all the necessary ingredients, or I find or adapt a respectable recipe, or whatever. Premier Japan piqued my desire for gluten-free hoisin and I WILL create or find a recipe to fill the void. I must have mu shu vegetable again. Must must must.

Stay tuned… I think I’m close.

Update 3/3/10: checkit! I diddit!