What Is Gochujang Sauce?

If you like spicy food and condiments, then you are going to want to know about gochujang sauce. If you are here, chances are you’re not quite sure what it is, what it is made from, and what you can expect in terms of flavor. I’m here to answer those questions here today. By the end, you’ll know exactly what to expect should you proceed to try it.  

So, what is Gochujang Sauce? Gochujang is a thick, spicy and sweet red chili paste that is a popular condiment in Korean cuisine. It is commonly eaten with foods such as noodles, rice, eggs, soup, and stew. There are several different varieties of gochujang, which include spicy, sweet, mild, and blended gochujang.

The best thing about the gochujang sauce is that it complements everything from noodles to fried chicken. 

Additionally, it can be used in other recipes, such as salad dressings, marinades, sauces for meat or fish, or vegetables, in addition to Korean cuisine.

So, it’s a good idea to have some gochujang sauce on hand if you want to add a little zing to your dishes.

But what is this sauce made of exactly, and how is it best used? Let’s delve in!

What Is Gochujang Sauce Made Of?

Gochujang sauce is made from a mixture of chili powder, glutinous rice, also called sticky rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. Although gochujang sauce can have different ingredients depending on the region it is made in, various brands have their versions and take on the recipe too.

Nevertheless, let us delve into the core ingredients:

Chili Powder

The chilies used in gochujang are typically red peppers like cayenne, but other varieties may be used as well.

The type of chili used determines how spicy or mild the final product will be and how sweet its flavor will be.

Some recipes for gochujang call for up to 15 different types of chili pepper!

Glutinous Rice

It’s made with glutinous rice because this kind of rice has a high amylopectin starch content, which causes it to gel.

This makes it perfect for making sauces that hold their shape when mixed with water or other liquids. 

Fermented Soybeans

Fermented soybeans are one of the main ingredients in gochujang sauce because they are responsible for giving it that distinctive salty taste and thick consistency. 

Salt

The salt ingredient in Gochujang sauce is essential for balancing the spice of the chilies.

In addition, the salt helps with preservation and also adds umami flavor to the sauce.

Gochujang sauce can have different ingredients depending on the region it is made in, and various brands have their own versions of gochujang sauce. 

Some recipes include small amounts of other ingredients, such as fish sauce or sugar, depending on the intended use of the product.

What Does Gochujang Sauce Taste Like?

Gochujang sauce has a distinct taste, with just enough heat to make you feel it, but not so much that your tongue will wither away. There’s also a hint of sweetness to the sauce, which comes from its main ingredients of red chili pepper flakes and glutinous rice.

If you want to increase the sweetness or saltiness of Gochujang sauce, all you have to do is adjust the ratio of these ingredients for your next batch.

If you like spicy foods, then the chances are high that you’ll love Gochujang sauce.

It’s perfect on scrambled eggs for breakfast, spread on toast for lunch, or in a spicy stir fry for dinner.

What Do You Eat Gochujang Sauce With?

Gochujang sauce can be served as an accompaniment to kimchi or other pickled foods, but it’s also great when paired with grilled meats like bulgogi or pork belly. 

Gochujang sauce is a spicy, fermented red pepper paste that’s used in Korean cooking as both a condiment and flavoring.

It’s got a deep, earthy flavor that works well with meats and vegetables alike.

Kimchi

If you’re a fan of pickled cabbage and/or kimchi, you’ll be pleased to know that gochujang is a key ingredient in both dishes.

Kimchi is made by fermenting salted Chinese or Napa cabbage with spices like chili powder and garlic; after the fermentation process, it’s mixed with different vegetables like cucumbers, radishes, and carrots.

Stir Fry

You can use gochujang sauce in a stir fry.

Add the sauce to the pan after you’ve added other ingredients, and it will coat everything like a glaze and prevent sticking.

Stir-fry meat, such as chicken or beef, with some onions, garlic, broccoli florets, and bean sprouts, and add the gochujang sauce to the mixture.

Sandwiches

Gochujang sauce is great as a condiment to use on burgers, hot dogs, tacos, or sandwiches.

But it can also be used as a cooking ingredient.

You can mix make gochujang sauce into mayonnaise and slather it on your burger or sandwich.

It’s especially great with fish burgers.

Pizza

Just like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise are used as the base for many American sauces.

Gochujang is a great way to add a hint of spice to your pizza sauce.

Add it to your tomato sauce or use it on its own.

Feel free to experiment with different amounts of gochujang until you find the flavor combination that suits your taste buds.

Salad

Gochujang makes an excellent dressing for salads that feature grilled vegetables.

In addition, instead of peanut sauce, try gochujang on your Asian-inspired salad.

You can also try using gochujang on a salad containing chicken and rice.

It will bring out the natural sweetness in both the chicken and the rice while balancing the savory elements with just the right kick of heat.

Soups

One of the most common and delicious ways to use Gochujang is in soups.

There are countless recipes that play with different kinds of ingredients, but one of the best Korean recipes for a Gochujang-based soup is a spicy seafood stew.

Marinade

Gochujang sauce is commonly paired with beef dishes such as bulgogi or galbi-gui (short ribs).

This spicy marinade can also be used as a dipping sauce for grilled meat or seafood.

For example, try using it on grilled shrimp or tuna steaks.

Dipping Sauce

Gochujang sauce is a Korean dipping sauce that has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.

It’s made from gochujang, a fermented red chili paste, and it’s an essential ingredient in many Korean dishes.

Gochujang sauce can be used as a dipping sauce for meat and vegetables or as a marinade for meat before cooking.

It can also be added to soups and stews to give them a spicy kick!

What Sauces Are Similar To Gochujang Sauce?

Chile paste is sometimes substituted for Gochujang. Other than that, there aren’t any condiments or sauces that are as easily accessible in Western markets to replace it. 

That being said, these are the sauces it is often compared to. 

Sriracha

If you’ve ever tasted Sriracha, you probably have some idea of what Gochujang sauce tastes like.

Like Sriracha, it’s a spicy condiment made from red chili peppers and vinegar, with a sweet and tangy flavor that’s perfect for dipping or drizzling on everything from eggs to tacos.

Gochujang sauce is also made using red chili peppers and vinegar, but it’s slightly thicker than Sriracha—so thick that it can be spread like jam or jelly.

It’s usually sold in jars with a vibrant red color that looks like ketchup but tastes nothing like it.

The most important difference between the two sauces is that Gochujang has fermented soybeans in it; these give the sauce a stronger flavor than Sriracha does, which is why many people prefer it over Sriracha.

Red Pepper Flake Paste

Gochujang sauce is often compared to Red Pepper Flake Paste, which is also a Korean condiment made from fermented red chili peppers and glutinous rice.

However, Red Pepper Flake Paste does not have the same level of sweetness or spice as Gochujang sauce; instead, it has more of an acidic tang due to its vinegar content.

The taste of both sauces depends largely on the amount of sugar used during production.

If you want a sweeter version of either sauce, simply reduce the amount of vinegar you use when making your recipe or add more sugar during fermentation.

Sambal Oelek

The closest sauce in terms of consistency and taste would be sambal oelek—another popular Southeast Asian chili paste that’s also made from fermented soybeans.

However, sambal oelek contains vinegar while gochujang does not.

Sambal oelek is a Southeast Asian hot pepper paste that’s typically made with ground red chilies, vinegar or lime juice, garlic, and salt.

There are many ways to incorporate this sauce into your meal, from dipping to dressing. 

Kecap Manis

This sweet, thick soy sauce is commonly used in Indonesian and Malaysian cooking.

It has a consistency similar to Gochujang sauce and tastes similar to it as well, but it does have its own distinct flavor profile.

It’s made by fermenting soybeans with brown sugar, which gives it a deep color and sweet flavor.

Kecap Manis has a similar consistency to Gochujang sauce but lacks the spicy kick of Gochujang sauce.

The main difference between Gochujang and Kecap Manis is that the latter is made with palm sugar, giving it a darker color and sweeter taste than Gochujang.

Miso Paste

It’s similar to Japanese miso paste in that it’s a fermented food product made from soybeans, but it’s not quite the same.

The main difference is that gochujang sauce has some added heat from chilies, whereas miso paste doesn’t have any added heat at all.

Miso paste has a very mild flavor and can be found in many different varieties.

You can find miso paste in health food stores or Asian markets.

The paste comes in several different colors, such as white (Shiro), red (aka), brownish-yellow (aka), or blackish brown (Kuro).

White miso paste tends to be milder than red miso paste because it hasn’t been fermented as long, so if you’re looking for something milder than gochujang sauce but still want some heat, try white miso instead.

Samurai Hot Sauce

Samurai Hot Mustard is also a condiment made with chilies, but it’s not as spicy as Gochujang sauce.

It has a lot more of a kick than Sambal Oelek or Sriracha, which are both similar to Gochujang in their spiciness levels though not in their flavors.

Samurai Hot Mustard also has less sugar than Gochujang sauce—it’s more savory than sweet—but if you’re looking for something that’s got a similar flavor profile as Samurai Hot Mustard but is less spicy and less salty, you could try adding some brown sugar or honey to the mix.

Related Questions

Is Gochujang Sauce Like Sriracha?

Gochujang is similar to Sriracha in the fact they are both hot sauces, but Sriracha is typically milder and not as thick as Gochujang. Equally, Gochujang has fermented soybeans in it, providing umami notes and stronger flavors than what Sriracha can provide.