Gochujang is the star of the show in this full on, flavour packed, Korean style take on vegan meat balls.
Korean gochujang is the newest addition to my family of chilli babies. I’m up to around 20 different sorts of chilli sauces, powders, flakes and pastes in the house at the moment and I’m cool with that. My bursting at the seams pantry says otherwise, but whatever.
Gochujang is seriously addictive stuff. This rich red paste is a blend of fermented chillies and soy beans. It’s salty, spicy (but not going to blow your head off) and deeply umami tasting.
According to this article, gochujang is “…a bit like a fiery blend of marmite and miso paste, but sweeter, fruitier and more complex”. Yup, I’d agree with that.
You can pick it up from Asian supermarkets and the ethnic food section of some regular supermarkets for about $4. You’re looking for a big red tub like this.
Once you’ve got your hands on some gochujang, I seriously encourage you to give this delicious bean ball recipe a try. I was inspired by a meatball recipe by Esther from Tiger Burger in the May issue of Cuisine Magazine, so got on with inventing a plant-based version of it.
I made up a substantial ‘mince’ of canned black beans, toasted walnuts, oats and chia seeds then packed in the flavours. It’s quite a soft mixture initially, but it holds up really well to baking and has an amazing toothsome texture with just a little crunch once cooked. And they’re holy heck amazing with a gochujang glaze poured over the top.
Serve these bean balls up alongside some ice cold beers and go to your happy place. Or do them with rice and and kimchi and make a meal of it. I’m really loving the look of this easy 30 Minute Kimchi from Cook Republic, and think it may finally be the recipe to get me into trying a bit of DIY food fermentation.
Standard gochujang includes wheat as an ingredient, but gluten free Wholly Gochujang is available from Amazon if you need it.
Gochujang bean balls
For the bean balls:
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 red capsicum, very finely chopped, bell pepper
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tbsp gochujang, check label if gluten free
- 2 tbsp soy sauce, or tamari if gluten free
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely grated
For the glaze:
- 3 tbsp gochujang, (gluten free if required)
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, or tamari if gluten free
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed or finely grated
For the bean balls:
- Preheat oven to 220C (430F) fanbake.
- Mix chia seeds with 3 tbsp of water and set aside for 10 minutes while you're getting everything else organised.
- Roughly mash black beans (I use a potato masher), then add all remaining ingredients (including soaked chia seeds). Mix thoroughly and ensure everything is evenly distributed.
- Roll into even sized balls (approximately 1 tbsp per ball) and place on a baking sheet.
- Brush with a little oil, or spray with cooking oil, and put in the oven to bake.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and firm. Mine took about 23 minutes.
For the glaze:
- While the bean balls are cooking, make your glaze.
- Put all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for a few minutes or until glossy and slightly thickened.
- Set aside until ready to serve.
- Serve bean balls with a spoonful of glaze on top and toothpicks or cocktail sticks to keep your fingers clean.
- Adapted from a recipe by Esther from Tiger Burger, published in the May 2016 issue of Cuisine magazine.
- Standard gochujang includes wheat as an ingredient, but gluten free Wholly Gochujang is available from Amazon.
- Makes 20 balls.