Doubanjiang Vs Gochujang

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Doubanjiang and gochujang are both spicy pastes that are very popular in Asian cuisine, and both are made from the same primary ingredient.

These two pastes bring an umami flavor and saltiness to a dish, which is why they are so popular. However, as often as these two are confused with each other, they are very different ingredients.

What are the differences between doubanjiang and gochujang?

The main difference between the two is that doubanjiang originated in China, whereas gochujang originated in Korea. Both are made from soybeans, but gochujang has a tangier, sweeter flavor, whereas doubanjiang is spicier and chunkier.

There are numerous differences between the two, and understanding these differences will help you better understand Asian cuisine and the different dishes made with these pastes.

Read on to find out all you need to know about the differences between doubanjiang and gochujang.

What Is Doubanjiang?

Doubanjiang is a soybean paste that originates in China. The paste is made from fermented soybeans, chilies, and broad beans. This creates a reddish-brown paste that is slightly chunky.

Spices are added to the paste, which adds to the chunky texture and to the heat and flavor of the spice too.

Overall, the flavor of doubanjiang is salty, spicy, hot, and savory. It is a popular ingredient used to make Sichuan meals.

There is not much sweetness in doubanjiang at all, and it is mostly salty with umami notes. While it is more typically spicy, you can find non-spicy doubanjiang.

What Is Gochujang?

Gochujang is made in Korea. It is a paste made from fermented soybean, chili powder, barley powder, and salt.

The paste is also made from starch from glutinous rice, which adds to the sweetness of the paste.

It is a reddish-brown color, due to the addition of chilies, and it has a velvety smooth texture.

However, this also means that it can be overcooked easily, and burned, so it needs to be carefully cooked and caramelized.

Overall, the flavor of gochujang is sweet, savory, and salty, and it has some earthiness to it too.  It is popularly used in many Korean dishes, to add a sweet, acidic, fermented, and spicy flavor to a dish.

Doubanjiang Vs Gochujang – Difference In Ingredients

Doubanjiang and gochujang are often mistaken for one another because they are both a paste made from soybeans, and one or two other similar ingredients.

However, they are made up of a variety of different ingredients, which contributes to the different flavors.

Doubanjiang is made from soybeans and fermented broad beans, along with chili peppers and some other spices. Gochujang is made from fermented soybeans, dried red pepper powder, rice flour, and salt.

The ingredients used give doubanjiang a more savory flavor, with more heat, whereas gochujang is sweeter and slightly more acidic.

Doubanjiang Vs Gochujang – Difference In Use

Both doubanjiang and gochujang are pastes used to add flavor to different meals. Doubanjiang is used in Chinese cuisine, mostly Sichuan meals, whereas gochujang is a Korean ingredient.

To use doubanjiang, it is first fried in oil to release the flavors a little bit, before other ingredients are added to the paste.

When it is fried in oil, the salty, umami flavors are all released, and it turns the oil a deep, red color. The other ingredients are then added into the oil to absorb the flavor.

Gochujang can be used in a variety of ways. It is perfect to use as a marinade for meat dishes such as bulgogi, to add a kick of flavor to the meat before it is cooked.

It is also great to stir into dipping sauces or to add to soups, stews, or noodles dishes for added flavor.

Doubanjiang Vs Gochujang – Difference In Preparation

Both doubanjiang and gochujang need to be left to ferment to develop a stronger, more fermented flavor, but the timespan of fermentation does differ between the two.

For doubanjiang, the longer the fermentation process, the better quality and taste the paste will have. High-quality doubanjiang pastes are left to ferment for up to 3 years, but these come with a high price tag too. 

Gochujang is also left to ferment to develop flavor, but it usually is only left to ferment for between 60 to 90 days, sometimes longer. The preparation of gochujang also means that it develops a smooth, velvety texture.

Doubanjiang Vs Gochujang – Difference In Taste

Even though they are made with similar ingredients, there is definitely quite a big difference in flavor between doubanjiang and gochujang.

Doubanjiang has a very strong umami flavor, with only the slightest hint of sweetness. It is much saltier than it is sweet, and this is finished off with the heat that comes from the use of chili peppers.

Along with the salty and spicy flavor, doubanjiang has a fermented flavor too, which adds to the umami taste. The heat can be quite numbing, but there are various options that are less spicy than others.

Gochujang is spicy and salty, but it has a sweetness to it as well. This sweetness comes from the fermentation process and the red peppers used. There is some acidity and tanginess to gochujang, which is why it is so popular.

Doubanjiang is saltier and has more of an intense fermented flavor compared to gochujang, and gochujang is sweeter and tangier.

Doubanjiang Vs Gochujang – Difference In Texture

Both doubanjiang and gochujang are pastes, but they do have different textures to them.

Doubanjiang is a chunky paste, with chunks of chilies and spices in it. It is a fairly thick and clumpy sauce and holds a lot of flavor this way.

Gochujang on the other hand is beautifully smooth and velvety, and it should have no lumps or clumps in it.

So the difference in texture between the two is that one is nice and smooth, and the other is rough and chunky!

When Should You Use Doubanjiang And When Should You Use Gochujang?

Typically, you will know whether to use doubanjiang or gochujang depending on the meal you are cooking. Doubanjiang is mostly used for Sichuan cuisine, whereas gochujang is used in Korean cooking.

However, they can be used outside of this for various reasons. Doubanjiang has a more intense savory flavor, so it is great to use to flavor frying oil or to use to marinade meat or other ingredients. It is not suitable to be used as a table condiment.

Gochujang is also great when used as a marinade, and it is popularly used as a bulgogi marinade. When mixed in with other ingredients, it can also be used as a condiment. It is best used when you want less of a salty flavor, and something sweeter and tangier.

Can You Use Gochujang And Doubanjiang In Place Of Each Other?

If you need one or the other, but do not have it, then you can use gochujang and doubanjiang in place of each other in certain situations.

Doubanjiang can be used in place of gochujang for marinades and to season various dishes, but it cannot be used in its place as a condiment or served as a sauce on its own, as the flavor is too pungent and it is too concentrated as it is.

You will also have to make up for the lack of sweetness, and adding in some honey or sugar can work well.

Gochujang can also be used in place of doubanjiang in most cases, as the less pungent flavor will not overpower different meals or ingredients. Just keep in mind that gochujang is sweeter than doubanjiang, which can be fine, but you might want to add in a little more salt to make up for this.

Wrapping Up

Doubanjiang and gochujang are two pastes made primarily from soybeans, but they are very different in flavor and texture, and their uses are varied too.

Doubanjiang is a Chinese paste, mostly used in Sichuan cuisine. It is made with fermented soybeans, broad beans, chilies, and spices and has a chunky, thicker texture.

It is used to flavor hot oil and to marinate meats. It has a savory, salty, umami flavor with some heat.

Gochujang is a Korean paste, made from fermented soybeans, red peppers, and rice starch. It is velvety and smooth, and is sweet and acidic, with a little bit of heat to it too.

Both are great to add flavor and spice to a dish, and they can be used in a variety of ways.

Related Questions

What is a good substitute for doubanjiang?

Other than using gochujang as a substitute for doubanjiang, you could use Sambal Oelek, which is a Thai chili sauce.

You can also make up a substitute by mixing together some red chili flakes and black bean paste.

Is gochujang the same as bibimbap?

Gochujang sauce can be used as a condiment, and it is also known as bibimbap sauce, as it can be used on just about anything as it tastes great with a sweet and spicy flavor, with notes of umami.

Does gochujang need to be refrigerated?

Once gochujang is opened, it needs to be kept in the refrigerator.

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