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Chef Edward Lee Visits Houston, Cooks with Underbelly's Chris Shepherd For a Day

Two James Beard nominated chefs talk and cook Korean food for a one-day event.

Chef and television host Edward Lee (l) and Chris Shepherd of Underbelly(r).
Chef and television host Edward Lee (l) and Chris Shepherd of Underbelly(r).
Ellie Sharp

Houstonians are well accustomed to fiery fare in the form of chili peppers and spicy sauces, but this fall brings a fresh iteration of flavor with Chung Jung One's Gochugjang chili sauce (try saying that five times fast).

The food maker - popular in South Korea - developed its signature fermented chili paste as an answer to the growing popularity of Asian influences found on restaurant and home menus alike. Originally available only at restaurants, the company tweaked the distinctive recipe and consulted with James Beard nominated chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky before launching its United State presence in Houston in October.

With a nod towards versatility and simplicity, the flavor profile of this rust-red condiment marries rice, chili peppers, garlic, onion, and vinegar to compliment a vast array of dishes and preparations. "I've been really lucky to work with Chung Jung One touring Korea and promoting the product," says Lee. "It's a really fun product and I think you will really enjoy it. One of the reasons we did the sauce was because people were already asking for it anyway, so we just made it slightly better and bottled in a packaging that is easier to use. Normally it comes in big tubs. We wanted to make it more accessible to the home cook."

Lee joined forces with Underbelly's Chris Shepherd to promote Gochujang at an industry event held at Shepherd's Montrose restaurant Tuesday. But have no fear, Shepherd currently prepares dishes utilizing the chili sauce at Underbelly and you can create your own masterpieces at home since the sauce is available for purchase at Central Market and Amazon.

Shepherd elaborates on his support of the product, "I like to think of our food as like a gateway drug to culture. There are a lot of people who are not familiar with any dish that I do or with Korean food but if we can get them to understand flavors, and textures, and sauce balances they'll go out on their own and that's the idea." He added, "I think it's delicious" to his endorsement of Gochujang.

Fun fact: Gochujang is produced in Sunchang, which also boasts the longest lifespan in Korea. Chung Jung One isn't making any promises but we like to think this isn't just coincidence.

- Ellie Sharp


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