Korean Style Salsa Roja

Korean Style Salsa Roja

Continuing in my quest to create the Kogi short rib taco experience at home I came to the salsa. I generally associate tacos and Mexican food in general with spicy heat as I also do with Korean food. Since the Korean barbecue short ribs were relatively sweet I knew that the salsa would be a very important part of the tacos. Unfortunately I was not able to find an actual Kogi recipe so I needed to come up with my own.

The Kogi web site describes the salsa as such: "sesame-chili salsa roja". With that description I was thinking about a sauce made with a base of gochujang , a Korean fermented chili paste, with some sesame oil and seeds and maybe some ginger. After searching the Kogi site in depth I came across an old archived post that mentioned that it was a chili de arbol based salsa with 'secret' ingredients. When I saw that description I knew immediately what I wanted to do! I started with a basic chili de arbol salsa consisting of tomatoes, chilies de arbol, onion and garlic and I added some tomatillos for a depth of flavour. (Of course I roasted the tomatoes, tomatillos and onion to add even more flavour.) For the Korean fusion ingredients I added some ginger for a bit of a bite, some sesame oil for the aroma and flavour, some crushed toasted sesame seeds for some texture and the gochujang paste for some more heat and an additional layer of Korean flavour.

The salsa roja was pretty easy to make and it turned out so well! The only issue that I had with making the salsa was straining it, where I had to really work the salsa through the strainer with the back of a spoon to get all of the good stuff. It was well worth the effort though! The red salsa was nice and fiery hot and full of flavour. The first thing that hits you is the aroma of sesame oil which always reminds me of Asian food. Once you get it in your mouth you are hit be the intense heat which as it fades leaves you with a really tasty sauce. Since I added the crushed sesame seeds after straining the salsa they added a really nice texture to the otherwise smooth salsa. This red sauce is so addictive! I find myself eating it by the spoonful every time I pull it out to use.

Korean Style Salsa Roja

Korean Style Salsa Roja

Servings: 2cups
  • 1/2 pound plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 pound tomatillos (husked and washed)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ounce (about 20) dried chilies de arbol, toasted
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chili powder)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted and crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Roast the tomatoes and tomatillos until charred on all sides, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Place the tomatoes, tomatillos, water, chiles de arbol and onion into a sauce pan, bring to a boil and simmer until the onions are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Drain the water reserving it.
  4. Place everything other that the sesame seeds into a food processor or a blender and puree adding some of the reserved liquid if necessary.
  5. Strain the bits from the salsa.
  6. Mix in the toasted and crushed sesame seeds and season with salt and pepper.


VeggieGirl said...

THAT'S is a fabulous salsa variety - holy yum.

Jenn said...

Nice recreation from a vague description from the website. First the short ribs. Now this. I may just to make my own little Korean taco soon.

Velva said...

Holy cow! That looks utterly amazing!!! This blog is enlightening me!

Elra said...

Such a unique spicy sauce. I am sure it delicious!

Jan said...

Very interesting - I now NEED to make this sauce!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A fantastic idea! That sauce looks very tasty!



diva said...

this is impressive! kevin, you've got such amazing skills and international tastebuds!

lisa said...

I just recently learned of the wonder that is gochujang, so this sauce sounds fantastic!

pigpigscorner said...

Good use of gochujang!

oneparticularkitchen said...

I've never seen this before! How fantastic does that look??

Zoe said...

This looks great. I love korean food!

Amy J said...

I'm heading out for these ingredients soon. Looks great!

lydiatheperfectpantry said...

Delicious -- I can think of lots of ways to use this sauce.

meeso said...

I love your step-by-step posts to making a great dish! It's like a recipe soap opera!

Cucinista said...

Salsa salsa salsa... this recipe is calling to me.

Dawn said...

yes a very unique sauce indeed. I imagine you could use it for some mexican dishes or not? Oh why not, so many fusions these days.

KC said...

What an interesting use of gochujang. My mom uses gochujang with fermented soy bean paste, a little bit of sugar, green onions, little bit of garlic to make a good sauce. I'd give you the exact amounts except it's just that, a little of this, a bit of that.

Sook said...

Yum Yum! I love dipping cucumbers in those. It's so good. Have you tried it?

Kevin said...

Sook: Dipping cucumbers into this salsa sounds really good!

james said...

Great template! Thanx for sharing it with us
I like it! Simple and pretty More templates easy to download

Anonymous said...

hi Kevin! I found you through the week of menus blog. I really really like the korean tex mex combinations!

The Mistress of Spices said...

Very creative! I need to get more adventurous with Korean food.

Anonymous said...

Okay...I just made this and its WAY too spicy, like inedible spicy. I had to make another batch because there were just way too many peppers. Holy crap!! I started sweating after a had a spoonful of the first sauce. Jeez!!! And I'm the type of person that douses their food in sriracha.

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