If you enjoy Korean cuisine, there’s a good chance you’re a fan of gochujang. It’s a type of chili paste synonymous with many staple Korean dishes. But if you struggle to find it at your local store, you’ll need a good gochujang substitute for your Korean creation.
Gochujang has recently gained popularity, and many chefs now include this Korean paste in their dishes. The sweet & spicy paste is used in multiple popular recipes like bibimbap bowls and ssamjang dipping sauces. It can also be used as a marinade for different cuts of meat.
This article will explore all the alternatives that can be a perfect substitute for gochujang when needed.
What Is Gochujang?
Gochujang is a traditional paste that has been a part of Korean cuisine for centuries. Made from red chili powder, it is a red chili paste containing glutinous rice powder and powdered fermented soybeans.
It is a savory, sweet, and hot paste that can amp up the flavor of any recipe. Traditionally, gochujang is made by fermenting the ingredients in an earthen pot for years.
This fermented chili paste is one of the most popular condiments in Korea, as it goes with almost anything. While it’s traditionally eaten with octopus, gochujang is added to various stir-fries and stews today. It’s even popular in the West now.
If you’re out of gochujang, you can still create the desired dish and flavors. Here’s a list of gochujang substitutes that reflect the paste’s sweet and spicy notes and texture.
1. Miso and Chili
You can use miso paste if you do not have months to ferment your chili paste sauce. This paste helps you replicate the traditional fermented flavor profile of gochujang. Both miso and gochujang use soy as their main ingredient. You can mix the miso paste with Korean chili powder to mimic the taste of gochujang.
If you can’t find Korean chili powder in-store, combine it with ground cayenne pepper and sweet paprika. You’ll get a spicy, tangy paste if you add equal parts cayenne pepper and sweet paprika to your miso paste.
2. Red Pepper Flakes
You can mimic gochujang’s sweet and spicy taste in your dish by using red pepper flakes. Add a splash of soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to a bowl. Mix them all, and you will have a ready-to-go chili sauce that will somewhat match the gochujang in your recipe.
3. Thai Chili Paste
Thai chili paste is the best option if you are looking for a paste with a similar texture to gochujang. While the intense garlic flavor differs from the sweet, spicy gochujang, you can still use it as a substitute in marinades. The paste will still give you spicy and sweet notes, with a tinge of garlic. Its thick texture will replicate gochujang in your recipe perfectly.
4. Sriracha Sauce
Sriracha acts as a good substitute for gochujang. This sauce is widely available throughout the country and is known for its sweet yet spicy flavor. If you want to make your dish slightly spicier, then sriracha is the way to go.
However, the consistency of sriracha sauce is quite different from gochujang. It is slightly thinner. Hence, it would be a good substitute in recipes that would benefit from a saucier condiment.
5. Harissa Paste
You must know about harissa paste if you love spicy food. It packs a punch of flavor into your dish and is the perfect consistency when replacing gochujang. However, you won’t get the same fermented flavor notes with harissa. The paste has a mild smokey flavor and adds plenty of heat to your food.
6. Sambal Oelek
Sambal oelek is a traditional Indonesian condiment with a similar appearance and texture to gochujang.
The paste is made from ground chili peppers mixed with vinegar, salt, and sugar. It has a similar flavor profile to gochujang when used as a substitute in soups, marinades, dips, and more.
7. Tomato Paste
If you are desperate and can’t find any other substitute, you can use tomato paste as a gochujang alternative. But you’ll have to adjust the sauce’s consistency and flavor.
You can add some salt and cayenne pepper to a bowl of tomato sauce. This will give it the characteristics of a sweet and spicy flavor. That said, tomato paste will make a suitable replacement in specific recipes and may not be suitable in a marinade.
The next time you can’t find gochujang at your local store, choose one of the alternatives from our list. Miso and chili are among the best alternatives that mimic gochujang’s texture and taste. Now that you know about these gochujang substitute options, you’re set to whip up the perfect Korean-inspired meal.