Korean Nacho Cheese Sauce
Why This Recipe Works
by Sasha Marx
Classic nacho cheese sauce has a gooey, melty texture but barely tastes like cheese. Aged cheeses, such as cheddar, have rich, complex flavor but make for grainy sauces when melted. We think we’d all be a lot better off if we lived in a cheese sauce world where we didn’t have to choose between texture and flavor—and it turns out, we don’t. In 2011 Modernist Cuisine popularized the use of sodium citrate, an emulsifying salt, to defy cheese logic and make gooey nacho cheese from the good stuff.
The base of this cheese sauce is a supertasty combination of sharp aged cheddar and Swiss cheese. But we didn’t stop there. For this recipe, we wanted to riff on a favorite late-night boozy snack food: cheesy ddukbokki, Korean rice cakes swimming in a spicy gochujang sauce topped with a mound of melty cheese. (Gochujang is a Korean hot pepper paste that has been crowned the new Sriracha by food-trend experts and is therefore getting much easier to find in supermarkets.) Here we fold a quick gochujang sauce into the cheese for a dip that’s spicy, sweet, and salty. It’s a vibrant shade of orange-red—reminiscent of the traditional spicy queso sauce present at so many Super Bowl parties across the United States (but the similarities end there).