The Korean Barbecue Sauce You Didn’t Know You Needed–On Everything

Photos by Megan Broussard.
Photos by Megan Broussard.

Father’s Day reminds us of one thing Dads do best (other than taking forever to tell a lame story), and that is incredible barbecue. If your dad is as adventurous as mine (you should taste this man’s version of drunken chicken with Tony Chachere’s), then he’s always testing out new recipes for the grill.

That’s why once we tried the We Rub You Korean barbecue sauces and marinades made by two Brooklynite sisters out of love for their Korean cooking heritage (or “rub,” shall we say, since the sisters explained to me that the name was inspired by “our fondly poking fun at our family’s accent, which doubles as the obvious technique that is rubbing seasoning into the meat ahead of barbecuing”), we had to spread the word. We also had to spread it on everything. And we know you will be doing the same, too.

Ann and Janet Chung got the idea for bottling and selling the traditional family condiment in 2011 when the sisters set up a Korean barbecue stand at Brooklyn Flea’s Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. After several sold out weekends and lots of encouragement from satisfied customers and second-serving-please friends, the duo set out to start a business selling the authentic Korean barbecue marinades and sauces they grew up with.

“My husband’s side of the family is non-Korean, so when I would share dishes with them for holidays, I realized how many people wanted to learn to make it themselves, starting with using the sauce on everyday meals,” said Ann Chung.

Janet Chung, left, and Ann Chung in their office in South Williamsburg.
Janet Chung, left, and Ann Chung in their office in South Williamsburg.

The sisters began bottling their popular sauces in Long Island City not long after, selling them in stores like Whole Foods and online. A fact that the Chungs are most proud of, one that helped them clinch the highly coveted SOFI award win, is that the sauces are clean. The original marinade is a family recipe that’s a blend of non-GMO soy sauce, apple juice, garlic & ginger; other sauces, like the Gochujang Korean Hot Sauce, use fermented chili peppers to amp up the heat. “There are no added MSG, HFCS or artificial colors or preservatives,” said Janet Chung. “And, what makes our customers even happier with their healthy purchase is that they know a portion of our proceeds goes to supporting survivors of trafficking, a problem many Korean women face who have been tricked into coming to the U.S. for work, but finding out when they arrive that they have been sold into the sex trade.”

We Rub You sauces adds a spicy new kick for a Father’s Day barbecue, a holiday that holds a special meaning for the Chungs. “Our dad, Daddy Nak, came to the U.S. with the American dream and has always encouraged us, his daughters, to shoot for the stars,” said Janet Chung. “In many ways, our business is inspired by him.”

Photo courtesy of We Rub You.
“Daddy Nak” grilling. Photo courtesy of We Rub You.

I know he must be so proud. Just look at this amazing picture of him grinning from ear to ear and barbecuing in true Korean style with chopsticks. (Newbies, don’t try this at home.) Leaving you with words of wisdom for the Father’s Day weekend, Daddy Nak’s favorite piece of advice: “chew a lot and eat slow.”

We Rub You
Vote for We Rub You to win a grant Chase’s Mission Main Street Grants competition for additional funding, which would allow We Rub You to expand into more stores and locations.


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