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Gochujang vs. Chili Garlic Sauce

These two sauces are the undeniable kings in the Asian sauces world. With one hailing from Korea and the other from China, it’d be hard to see a dish in their cuisine without it. But what exactly separates these two spicy giants? Gochujang and chili garlic sauce can often seem similar, but I’ll break down everything you need to know about them in a gochujang vs. chili garlic sauce head-to-head. It’s the ultimate spicy sauce showdown!

A wooden table top with various spicy ingredients scattered across it.

🤷 What Is Gochujang?

Gochujang is an iconic staple in Korean cuisine. It’s a spicy and savory fermented paste made from a culmination of red chili pepper flakes, glutinous rice powder, fermented soybean powder, and salt. With its complex, sweet, and spicy flavor profile, it packs a slightly smoky and earthy undertone. You can even use numerous gochujang substitutes if you want to mimic its flavor.

🧑‍🍳 How to Use Gochujang

Marinade: Gochujang can be used as a delicious marinade and sauce for pork chops and meats, adding that spicy, savory, and slightly sweet kick to dishes like bulgogi or grilled chicken.

Stir-fries: Splashing some gochujang into stir-fry sauces is a great way to infuse the dishes with its bold and spicy flavors.

Dipping Sauce: Mix gochujang with soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar to create a delicious dipping sauce for dumplings, vegetables, or grilled meats, providing a spicy and umami-rich condiment.

🤷‍♀️ What Is Chili Garlic Sauce?

Chili garlic sauce is famous for its spicy and garlicky taste and that comes from its combination of chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, and sugar. It can be used as a dipping sauce for dumplings, a marinade for meats, or a topping for noodles and stir-fries. Chili garlic sauce and sweet chili sauce and different variations of each other, but with similar spice and textures. You can also use various chili sauce substitutes to mimic its flavor if you can’t find any.

👩‍🍳 How to Use Chili Garlic Sauce

Condiment: You can use it as a zesty condiment to add a spicy kick to dishes like noodles, rice bowls, or sandwiches, enhancing the flavor with its tasty bold and garlicky profile.

Glaze: You can create a delicious glaze or tasty spicy chicken sauce recipe by combining chili garlic sauce with honey or soy sauce, then brush it onto grilled or roasted meats for a sweet, spicy, and aromatic finish.

Dressing: Blend some chili garlic sauce with vinegar, oil, and a hint of sugar to make a fantastic tangy and spicy dressing for all your salads and slaws.

💡 Similarities and Differences Between Gochujang and Chili Garlic Sauce

AspectGochujangChili Garlic Sauce
OriginKorean fermented chili pasteSoutheast Asian spicy condiment with garlic
FlavorSpicy, savory, slightly sweetSpicy, garlicky, pungent
ConsistencyThick, paste-likeThick, chunky texture
UsageMarinades, stews, dipping saucesMarinades, stir-fries, condiment
IngredientsFermented soybeans, glutinous rice, red pepperChili, garlic, vinegar, sugar, salt

Ingredients and Base

Gochujang is made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt, which is then left to ferment for several months. Chili garlic sauce, though, is made from chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, and sugar, with the base of the sauce being thinner and more liquid than gochujang.

Flavor Profile and Heat Level

Gochujang packs a sweet and savory taste with a splash of umami, while chili garlic sauce has a more tangy and slightly sweet flavor with a strong garlic taste. But if we’re talking heat level, gochujang is generally milder than chili garlic sauce, though it can still hold its own in a spicy-dependent dish.

Culinary Uses and Cultural Significance

Gochujang is a classic and traditional ingredient in Korean cuisine, utilized in many of its iconic dishes, including bibimbap, tteokbokki, and bulgogi, but it also makes for a great marinade or dipping sauce. Chili garlic sauce is a similarly well-known component in Chinese cuisine, used in stir-fries, noodle dishes, and dumplings. It can also makes for an excellent marinade or dipping sauce.

🧐 FAQs

How to store gochujang?

You can store this sauce in the refrigerator for up to a year. Though it should be kept in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out, if the paste does become too thick, you can add a small amount of water to thin it out.

How to store chili garlic sauce?

You can store chili garlic sauce in the refrigerator for up to 6 months, provided it’s kept in an airtight container.

Can I use gochujang instead of chili garlic sauce?

Yes, you can use gochujang as a substitute for chili garlic sauce, but be mindful that gochujang has a sweeter and more fermented flavor compared to the pungent garlicky taste of chili garlic sauce.

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