What is Gochujang? And Why You Need It Now
Gochujang is a Korean fermented chili paste made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt, and salt. Learn all about it.
I’ve noticed Gochujang popping up in stores more and more lately. This is GREAT news. It means the rest of the world is starting to catch up to my spicy food palate. Keep spreading the word, my spice loving friends! I’ve been cooking with it for a while now, and I absolutely love the stuff.
Gochujang is one of the hottest condiments around, a chili paste like no other, so if you’re a spicy food lover, you definitely need this ingredient in your kitchen.
It’s a wonderful chili paste that will change up your dishes in the best of ways.
What is Gochujang?
Gochujang is a Korean fermented red chili paste made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder, and salt. It is thick and pungent in flavor, adding a zingy depth to your dishes. It is both spicy and sweet.
As you’d guess, it is used widely in Korean cooking and Korean food. It is usually made from Gochugaru – Korean chili flakes – though you can make it with other chili flakes and powders.
It may remind you of one of our favorites, Sriracha, though Sriracha has nothing on this glorious condiment that I’ve fallen completely in love with as a spicy cook.
There are a number of brands on the market today, and they range in heat levels from mild to very hot, so be sure to check the label.
There’s a heat range to suit your personal palate. Nice!
What Does Gochujang Taste Like?
Gochujang is deeply flavored with a nice touch of spiciness, as it is a concentrated chili paste. Heat levels can range from mild to hot, and you’ll note a salty quality with a touch of sweet and a bit of meatiness.
How to Cook with Gochujang
As Gochujang is a chili paste, you don’t want to use it like your typical Sriracha, straight up as a condiment. You’ll usually want to thin it out a bit with another liquid or condiment, like rice vinegar and sesame oil, or swirl it into simmering sauces, soups or stews to bring some desirable zest to your dishes.
It’s also great for making spicy dipping sauces and popularly used to make kimchi.
Usually you’ll just want to use a small amount in your recipes.
Here are some Gochujang recipe thought starters:
- Spicy Peel and Eat Shrimp with Honey-Gochujang Glaze
- Korean Chicken (sprinkle on sesame seeds!)
- Chicken Ramen
- Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry
- Grilled Pork Chops with Pineapple-Gochujang Glaze
- Thai Peanut Sauce
- Beef Stir Fry
- Gochujang Sauce
Consider swirling some into mayo for a nice sandwich spread. Mix it with honey to use as a glaze for grilled meats. Try it with any stir fry.
It is also a key ingredient in recipes like bulgogi and bibimbap.
Where Can You Buy Gochujang?
I’ve found it at various local grocery store chains. It makes me incredibly happy that it is appearing on more and more shelves. You may only find a single brand, but as you’ll have some.
If you’re unable to find it at your local grocer, seek out a Korean market where you’ll usually see it sold in little red tubs.
Choose the heat level that you prefer and enjoy.
- Buy Gochujang from Amazon (affiliate link, my friends!)
What is a Good Gochujang Substitute?
If you are unable to find it at your grocer, you can substitute with other condiments or ingredients. The flavor won’t be the same, but they should still work for the recipe.
Some substitutions include Sriracha, Chili-Garlic Paste, Thai Chili Paste (thinned with soy sauce). Miso paste is similar in texture, though without the spicy qualities. Also consider Ssamjang (Korean soybean paste), Doenjang (Korean bean paste) or others.
Other red chile pastes can work as well.
Can You Make It at Home?
Yes, homemade gochujang is great. I have seen recipes around the web, though it looks quite involved, and I am a person who enjoys fermenting.
For now, personally, I will stick with purchasing it for my cooking needs. Store bought gochujang is not gluten free.
How Long Does Gochujang Last?
Gochujang will last you a long time in the refrigerator, as it is a fermented product. If you notice it has begun to dry up or is becoming discolored, you should replace it.
So what are you waiting for? Get yourself some and get cooking! Highly recommended! – Mike H.
Try Some of These Other Popular Sauces and Recipes
- Sambal Oelek
- Easy Hoisin Sauce
- Bulgogi Sauce
- Sambal Matah
- How to make Chili Paste from Fresh Peppers
- Spicy Ramen Noodles
Try Some of These Other Chili Pastes
- Ssamjang (Spicy Korean Soybean Paste)
- Doubanjiang (Chinese Chili-Bean Paste)
- Piros Arany (Turkish Chili Paste)
- Bibir Salcasi (Hungarian Chili Paste)
- Homemade Harissa
- Green Harissa
- Chili Pastes from Around the World
NOTE: This post was updated on 7/28/21 to include new information and photos. It was originally published on 3/16/18.