Editor’s note: When I encountered one Gochu-Juan on Twitter, I could hardly believe my good fortune. Here at last one was someone who described himself as a *one-stop shop for fusion recipes, angry socialist politics, and education policy.* And so I extended a invitation. Would Gochu-Juan consider writing something that combined all of these loves into one edible delight that I might share on this page? Happily, he accepted my challenge and, in what I will hope will be merely the first dish of a multi-course meal, the fruits of his deep red labors appear below…
The people’s sauce is deepest red – or, at least, it will be, if I have anything to say about it.
While I understand that the agreement that the Chicago Teachers Union was able to strike with Chicago Public Schools a week and a half ago isn’t quite perfect, the fact that teachers were able to flex enough working muscle to force a large public school district to actually negotiate inspired me to try and honor CTU’s victory with the angriest, most passionate red sauce I could find.
First, I tried various things based off of roasted red peppers, figuring the darker tint from the oven would help, but there was no way to turn them into sauce that didn’t come out looking orange.
In my desperation, I stumbled upon Maangchi’s recipe for chijeu-buldak, which involved three of my favorite things: chicken, mozzarella cheese, and most importantly, gochujang, the thick, dark red pepper paste used for a lot of Korean cooking.
Then, like a jolt from my favorite Korean chili paste, I remembered my mission—to synthesize Korean and Puerto Rican cooking into a glorious, red-gold apotheosis—and the light went off.
Pastelón, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the closest thing Puerto Ricans have to lasagna. It’s a layered dish of plantains, meat, cheese, and various other ingredients, depending on what you want to do with it. The starchy yuca I planned to use would certainly do for a *spice sink,* counteracting the heat of the deep, dark red sauce that I was after.
Here’s how I did it. Continue reading →