Although black walnuts were my big project this month in Feast, this is not to say that I didn’t write my regular column as well. I did, and I sort of wish it had been in a different issue, because it may be one of my favorite/weirdest recipes I’ve done so far for Mystery Shopper. I am as proud of it as I am the black walnuts piece, and my goals with both articles are the same: I want you to incorporate odd things into your regular baking and cooking lives. With these cookies, however, I want you to do more than just traditional things with a twist: I want you to get your adventurepants on.
This month’s mystery ingredient? Gochujang. I’m making this a short post because my write-up in the magazine really says what needs to be said about gochujang and its merits (and there are many). Am I an asian hot sauce fanatic? No. I don’t put sriracha on my eggs, I don’t long for it in soup, I don’t own dishes or clothing with a red rooster emblazoned on it, and I don’t sit and wonder what I could throw the blessed spicy nectar of the gods in next. You need to know that, because sometimes when you see normal recipes with an odd hot-sauce twist, you think “oohhhh no. I’m not doing that, I’m not that sort of person.”
Because I’m not that sort of person, and these are not that sort of cookie. I want to impress upon you that these aren’t the creation of some deep-rooted longing to include gochujang – which is basically the Korean equivalent of the better-known sriracha – in everything I eat. Rather, these are a cookie born from the knowledge that peanuts are pretty great when given a spicy treatment.
For whatever reason, these worked. They more than worked, and I – the person most likely to not care if sriracha fell off the face of the earth – love them. I love them because they’re a peanut butter cookie, so they’re familiar, but I love them because they really kick you in the pants at the end. They have a slow heat that builds, and what’s nice about gochujang in these is what’s nice about gochujang in general: it has a level of subtle sweetness that sriracha lacks, thus making it as perfect in sweet things as it is in savory.
Who among us doesn’t know someone who would die of happiness over these? We all have that special person in our lives, and Valentine’s Day is fast-approaching. Do I really need to get corny and tell you to spice up your holiday with these? No, I don’t. Because you were thinking it.
So go read up about your new favorite Asian condiment, because I promise you that you’ll want to (and should; go with that urge) buy a tub of it immediately. The article and recipe for my spicy peanut gochujang cookies is right here.