Knowing the best gochujang substitutes is critical if you do a lot of Korean cooking! Although they are relatively common, it is difficult to mimic the exact taste of this condiment.
Gochujang, also known as red chili paste, is a popular Korean fermented condiment. It is made from chili powder, fermented soybean, and barley powders, as well as glutinous rice, which gives it a touch of sweetness. The taste of gochujang is spicy and savory, with notes of miso. It is used to flavor dishes like Korean bulgogi and bibimbap.
Even though gochujang has gained popularity outside Korea, it can still be hard to find at the grocery store. When making a dish that calls for gochujang or Korean red chili paste, substitutions such as red pepper flake paste, miso and chili paste, sriracha, and Thai chili paste will help bring the heat and keep your dishes delicious!
Red Pepper Flake Paste
This alternative to gochujang is easy and quick to make at home. Mix one tablespoon of red pepper flakes with a few drops of soy and a pinch of sugar. This will give your recipe the bite, while the soy contributes savory umami and the sugar gives it just enough sweetness to ground the heat. It’s not perfect, but chances are that you have most of these items in your cupboard.
Miso and Chili Paste
This is another substitution that is easy to make at home. Essentially for a homemade gochujang, combine two tablespoons of miso paste and one tablespoon of chili garlic sauce, one teaspoon fish sauce, and six tablespoons toasted sesame oil. This mixture gives you all the essential flavor elements of gochujang, but since it’s not fermented, there will not be as much depth.
While it can be tempting to grab your trusty bottle of sriracha from the cupboard, this chili sauce is not going to give you quite the same flavor profile as gochujang, and will not be appropriate for all recipes. Sriracha has much stronger notes of garlic, no sweetness, and no savory miso flavor. It is also much thinner. It is best used as a substitution for the needed heat of gochujang, but should not be used in a recipe that calls for large amounts.
Thai Chili Paste
Thai chili paste is much closer in texture to gochujang than sriracha, but still has heavy notes of garlic. It is an appropriate substitution for recipes like meats and stews, where the chili flavor needs to stand out in a thick sauce. However, it should also not be used in large amounts, as it will drastically alter the taste of certain Korean dishes.