Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs

By • April 2, 2013 • 75 Comments


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Author Notes: For the Super Bowl this year, my husband wanted to make some Korean chicken wings he had seen in a magazine. When I saw the recipe, I wasn't expecting gochujang (Korean chili paste) to be an easy ingredient to find (or pronounce), but it turned out it was incredibly painless to locate at my local big-box store. The wings turned out great, but I now have a pretty sizable tub of gochujang sitting in my fridge.

Not one to let food go to waste, I've made it my mission to use that stuff up. It's actually pretty versatile, and has a nice spicy and smoky flavor. A little bit goes a long way toward giving an otherwise boring dish a little Korean flair. Along the lines of "party food" like chicken wings, I thought this stuff would work in meatballs, too (my recipe is adapted from a recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon). These meatballs are spicy and smoky and delicious.
foxeslovelemons

Food52 Review: WHO: Foxeslovelemons is a food writer from Detroit.
WHAT: Our new favorite cocktail party appetizer, with a kick of spice to keep things interesting.
HOW: Just mix, fry, bake, and brush on a sweet-spicy glaze.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We know they're a classic, but let's face it: your meatballs are probably stuck in a white-bread rut. This is how you break them out of it.
A&M

Makes 20 meatballs

Meatballs

  • 3 green onions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, for pan-frying

Glaze

  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Garnishes: sliced green onion and toasted sesame seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients except oil. The key to good meatballs is not to over mix them. Just gently combine the ingredients until everything is evenly distributed. Form the mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches (don't crowd the pan!), brown the meatballs on all sides. Transfer meatballs to rimmed baking pan and transfer to oven. Bake 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160° F.
  3. Meanwhile, in small saucepot, combine all glaze ingredients. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.
  4. To serve, brush meatballs with glaze and sprinkle with green onion and sesame seeds.

Comments (75) Questions (0)

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about 10 hours ago Burnt Offerings

Made these once again for a neighborhood party, and was inundated for the recipe the day afterwards. Gone in 60 minutes. Double batch. I take them in a crock pot as a warmer when I bring them to parties.

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about 14 hours ago Gotthescoop

I followed your recipe exactly and were loved by all. These little morsels of goodness I gave a D. For DELICIOUS!!! Thanks so much. On the top of my list for all our party's.

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20 days ago walkie74

Hmm... instead of apricot preserves, how do you think these would go with orange marmalade? Or even blackberry?

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20 days ago foxeslovelemons

Hi walkie74! I think orange marmalade would definitely work well here. Not sure about blackberry, but why not give it a try? :)

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about 1 month ago Swiss Meringue

I like spicy food, but my gochujang is very authentic and really spicy (no English on the label) so I halved the amount in the meatballs and the sauce and that was perfect and rather spicy, but not too much so. Delicious recipe - would make again!

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about 1 month ago Mulzee

These were great! I only ended up using about half the glaze but everything was delicious and the flavours blended well together. A great way to use leftover gochujang!

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about 1 month ago omegatop

I found the meatballs lacking in cohesion. Will add an extra egg for binding purposes, next time.

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about 1 month ago Amy

I think I got a little heavy handed with the gochujang because these were so spicy they were inedible. I will try again because of the reviews but will start with less gochujang and amp up as needed.

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about 1 month ago foxeslovelemons

Oh no, Amy! Sounds like your gochujang might have been extra spicy :( So sorry, but hope it's better if you try again!

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about 1 month ago Bryan

I couldn't believe how easy this was to make! It was fantastic for a quick dinner, I brushed the meatballs with the glaze and put them back in the oven for a few minutes they turned out great. Thanks for sharing.

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about 1 month ago foxeslovelemons

So glad to hear you liked them, Bryan!

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2 months ago Cooknotchef

Geez Keith, i a) cant imagine an Asian grocery store didnt have this, and b) am pretty glad i dont live where you do if that is true. Harissa is not going to be remotely close, but on the other hand, may end up with an interesting result. But one that is nothing like this recipe.... So- go ahead, give it a whirl. Then, order some gochujang online, and try them again and compare. Good luck!

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2 months ago Annie

I'm with Cooknotchef on this one. Keith check it out again and be sure to go to the Korean section of the Asian market. Gochujang is a Korean staple (I am Korean) and it is always in an Asian grocery if there's a Korean section. Hope you find it soon!!! It is a delicious game changer!!!

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2 months ago Keith

Checked three grocery stores, including one upper-scale market and an Asian market, and none of them had gochujang. Obviously disappointing, and I have no idea what they're supposed to taste like, but I am going to try using Harissa as a substitute, since that's what I have on hand.

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2 months ago foxeslovelemons

Chiming in to echo what others have said. Harissa won't be similar to gochujang, but I'm sure it'll still be tasty :)

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3 months ago natalie

MY friend brought these over to my house for the SB. They were AWESOME!

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3 months ago foxeslovelemons

Yay, glad to hear you enjoyed them, Natalie!

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3 months ago maya

Made these for superbowl tonight and they were GONE. So good. I made a double portion of the glaze and people were dipping their chicken wings and potato chips in it. Definitely something to make again.

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3 months ago foxeslovelemons

This makes me so happy to hear, Maya! It makes total sense, as making Korean-style chicken wings FOR the Super Bowl was the reason I had leftover gochujang, which was the reason I made these meatballs :)

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3 months ago Annie

Adults and kiddos loved these tonight! Thanks for posting this recipe! It is a gem!

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3 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad to hear that, Annie! Thank you!

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3 months ago jackandlily

I made these tonight with venison. They were a winner. I've never used gochujang before and bought it for this recipe. It will be a staple in our house now, and the meatballs will be on our table often. Thanks!

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3 months ago foxeslovelemons

Wow, so far, they've been made with beef, goat and now venison. I love it! I'm so glad you liked the recipe, jackandlily. Gochujang has become a staple for me as well. It's so versatile and adds a nice boost of smoky/spicy flavor to just about any dish!

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4 months ago lois

Has anyone tried these with ground turkey or chicken? I'm not a beef-eater. Also, Cooking Light (I want to say March 2013 but might be off) has a fabulous recipe for Korean BBQ chicken with spinach and sesame seeds. That's why I always have gochuchang (purchased from my local produce store) on hand.

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4 months ago foxeslovelemons

Hi Lois - I've tried them with both turkey and chicken, actually. It helps if you can find a blend of dark and light meat, if possible. The super lean grinds tend to get a little dry for meatballs.

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4 months ago Burnt Offerings

I am completely addicted to gochuchang. It has replaced ketchup, and has a permanent spot in my pantry / fridge.

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4 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I made these last week (after Burnt Offerings came to the cookie exchange and WOWED us all!) I substituted goat meat, which was gamey and stood up to the Gochuchang wonderfully. They were a little lean - I'm going to mix beef and goat for the next round (January 1 party). Great recipe and the apricot jam combo is inspired!

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4 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad they worked out for you MrsWheelbarrow. The goat meat sounds like an interesting idea!

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4 months ago Burnt Offerings

Like you, I had a tub of Gochuchang paste leftover from making Momofuku's Bo Ssam a few times, and a batch of Korean wings, but these were GREAT! I made them to take to the Food52 DC Cooking Exchange hosted by Mrs. Wheelbarrow. SO much good food, but these were a perfect potluck bite to take along. Big hit!!

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4 months ago Burnt Offerings

Food52 Washington DC COOKIE exchange - although we did talk a lot about cooking (as always) and exchanged lots of ideas and tips!

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4 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad they were a big hit for you, Burnt Offerings! That cookie exchange sounds like so much fun - wish I lived in the DC area so I could attend!

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4 months ago Bev

What can I use instead of Korean chili paste?

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4 months ago Angel

I have used sriracha (sp?). The red stuff with a rooster.

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4 months ago roszam

I have used sambal oelek and they still turned out delicious.

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4 months ago foxeslovelemons

Yep! Either sriracha or sambal oelek would work here. I would maybe combine either one of those with some tomato paste to get the same consistency of gochujang.

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4 months ago JulieS

You can mix 3/4 cup yellow miso paste with 1/4 cup sriracha to give you the consistancy and umami balance of gochujang.

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4 months ago foxeslovelemons

Sounds great, JulieS!

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5 months ago Angel

I made this for dinner tonight. Although my meatballs failed miserably (they fell apart) dinner was amazing. I will most definitely make again. Also, I'd probably make the meat ahead of time to marinate. Maybe this would yield meatball failure again? I dunno... but I thought it would take it up a notch from HA! to HA HA!

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

Oh no, Angel. So sorry to hear they fell apart on you. It's very important to not overwork the mixture. Stir (or mix with your hands) until it's just BARELY combined and then stop right away. You could also try adding a smidge more breadcrumbs to perhaps bind it a little more. But so glad to hear you liked the flavors!

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6 months ago BavarianCook

Talk about tender and moist with zip! Delicious! I was freshly out of gochujang but had samba oelek and sweet Thai chili sauce on hand, so used a mixture of those two and the meatballs were still incredible. Already have requests to make more!

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6 months ago foxeslovelemons

Thanks so much, BavarianCook! I absolutely LOVE both sambal and sweet chili sauce, so I'm drooling over your substitutions, actually :)