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Sesame Gochujang Salad

This salad has heat. And by heat, I mean some lovely, lingering spice. Which means it would be perfect to bring to a picnic, or even to the batting cages on a super hot afternoon.

“But, if the salad is spicy, why would you want to eat it when it’s hot out?” you could reasonably ask.

So, let me tell you about “Jim.”

Anyone who’s worked in a restaurant kitchen probably has their own version of a “Jim.” You know, the restaurant chef who gets mad when the wait staff doesn’t “86” something quickly enough – and then throws a butcher knife as his sous chef in retaliation.

You know – Jim.

Anyway, on one particularly hot day in the kitchen, one of the wait staff was sweet and asked if I’d like a cold soda. It was brutally hot.

I said, “Yes, please.”

Well, Jim overheard me from the alley where he was smoking a cigarette.

He let out a string of curse words for me, for the waitress, and for the kitchen in general.

“Goddamn it, when it’s this hot in the kitchen, you drink coffee! It makes you *bleepity, bleepity, bleepity* sweat more when it’s hot, which *bleepity, bleepity, bleep* cools you down more. Are you people idiots?”

Needless to say I drank coffee.

Now, I have no idea if it cooled me down more – but I think of him whenever I crave something hot or spicy on a hot day and my immediate reflex is, “Well, it’s too hot for that.”

When it’s hot, you need to sweat more.

Or at least that’s what Jim taught me.

Which brings me back to this salad. It’s hot as Hades here at the moment, and I was craving something spicy – which momentarily felt counterintuitive.

And then I remembered “Jim’s rule.*”

So, if you love the spice of gochujang and you’re looking for a fun salad to bring to a picnic – this is the one for you.

Sesame Gochujang Salad

Gochujang salad vertical

Serves 6-8.


8 oz. buckwheat noodles, or fettuccine

2 tablespoons gochujang paste

1 tablespoon tamari

2 ½ teaspoons sesame oil

Sliced cucumber

Scallions, roughly chopped

Carrots, thinly sliced or diced


Cook pasta according to package directions.

Pour into a strainer, and run under cold water to stop cooking.

Place gochujang and tamari in a small bowl.

Microwave for 20 seconds, to loosen up the gochujang.

Stir well to combine.

Add sesame oil.

Stir well again.

Toss with cooled pasta, and stir in cucumber, scallions, and carrots.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

(Photos by Launie Kettler)

*Which of course is true, at least in terms of spice. Hot climates from India to Mexico and Jamaica to Thailand know that spicy food on a hot day is what’s up.

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