One of the most important ingredients used in the majority of dishes in each and every part of the world is chili. Whether it is chili flakes, chili powder, or just raw chili, this item is essential to add flavor to food.
The spice level varies depending on the type of chilies, and there are several different types available in the world. Gochugaru and Gochujang are two of the most common types of chilies used in Korean food.
You can either make gochugaru and gochujang at home using the required ingredients or purchase them from the store. However, not many people are aware of the differences between these two types and often end up being confused between the two.
In this guide, we will discuss gochugaru vs gochujang in order to provide you with a clear idea about these two types of chilies.
What Is Gochugaru?
Gochugaru is a type of chili flake or powder that is very popular in Korea and used in the majority of Korean dishes. Whether it is a powder or flake depends on how you make gochugaru or how it is available in the store.
In order to make gochugaru, we generally use the Korean red chili peppers- taeyangcho, also commonly known as gochugaru chilies. This is the most important ingredient required to make gochugaru paste.
According to several historians in Korea, the use of this spice started somewhere around the 1200s or probably even before that. But, the majority of regions in Asia did not know about it until the 16th century.
However, the typical texture of gochugaru is usually finer than chili flakes and so on, but a bit coarse than paprika and regular chili powder. Gochugaru spice level varies from mild to extremely spicy, depending on how many seeds you put into the final mixture of gochugaru.
Things You Need To Know About Gochugaru
As we discussed above, taeyangcho chilies are generally preferred to make gochugaru, and these chilies are dried manually before they are blended. However, there are several chili types that are dried using a machine, but those are not preferred for traditional Gochugaru.
Taeyangcho chilies are left under the sun after deseeding until they are completely dry. Once the chilies are dry, they are cleaned and either blended or ground to make gochugaru. The texture of this spice depends on your own preference and how much you grind or blend the chilies.
A lot of people think that gochugaru is only used to give a flavor of spiciness to our food. However, this is not true at all as it is known to be one of the most adjustable ingredients in a lot of different dishes and cuisines.
Even though the main purpose of gochugaru is to add spiciness to a dish, it also adds a fruity and smoky flavor to the food, which makes it different from the majority of regular hot ingredients or spices.
Gochugaru has a beautiful and bright shade of red that we usually see in store-bought chili powder. However, what makes the color interesting is that it is consistent throughout the entire container since there is no presence of the chili seeds in the mixture.
When it comes to the spice level of gochugaru, it ranges widely from mild to extremely spicy. We generally increase or decrease the spice level of it by controlling the number of chili seeds we grind.
You will get a very mild spice level if the number of seeds is close to none. If you grind the chilies with a lot of seeds, then the spice level will increase accordingly.
One thing that the majority of people do not know about gochugaru is that it has several health benefits. These health benefits come from the nutrients present in it. It contains a high quantity of both Vitamin A and E.
Two tsp. of gochugaru fulfills about 14 percent of daily vitamin-E intake requirement of the body.
Not only vitamins, but gochugaru also contains a high level of fiber, iron, copper, and several other required minerals and enzymes. If you use this in your food regularly, then it will help you in fighting major health issues such as diabetes, prostate cancer, heart diseases, and several others.
We see the use of gochugaru in many Korean dishes due to the versatility of the ingredient. One of these popular dishes is kimchi, which is the world-famous Korean dish made out of fermented cabbage. Not only these, but it is also quite popular for making spicy beef or noodle soup in countries all over the world.
Gochugaru adds spiciness to a dish, and not many people have a high spice tolerance. In cases like these, it can often cause issues such as stomach pain, vomiting, acid reflux, and many more. If you experience any of these, then you should avoid the consumption of gochugaru until you are healed completely.
What Is Gochujang?
Gochujang is another common ingredient used in a lot of Korean dishes. It is quite similar to gochugaru, but instead of a chili powder, it is available as a chili paste. However, gochugaru is one of the main ingredients used to manufacture gochujang.
The taste of gochujang is almost similar to gochugaru, and it is used to add a spicy and smoky flavor to a dish. In addition to that, this also adds a small amount of sweetness to the dish to increase its flavor.
Gochujang was originated in Sunchang, South Korea. In South Korea, it has so much popularity that the people have dedicated a special day of the year to Gochujang.
Things You Need To Know About Gochujang
Gochujang is a thick chili paste that is manufactured using some ingredients including Gochugaru, glutinous rice, salt, grounded fermented beans, and sugar/honey. Sugar or honey is used in order to enhance the sweetness that helps gochujang add flavors to a dish.
If you want to manufacture gochujang at home, then you must know that it takes quite some time. The manufacturing process of gochujang takes from 12 hours to two days. Once you prepare the thick red paste and cool it properly, you can store it in a glass jar and preserve it in the fridge for several months.
Gochujang is usually used to provide a dish with a decent and unique flavor of spiciness, sweetness, and smokiness at the same time. However, you will have to make sure that you only use a small amount and not excessively in the dish.
Gochujang is quite darker compared to any other chili powder available in the market. The color is dark red, and the texture of gochujang is a thick chili paste. Due to its unique color, it is often used in dishes to enhance the crimson color of the food.
The spice level of gochujang varies depending on the amount of gochugaru you use to make it. There is a Gochujang Hot Taste Unit that represents the level of spiciness. There are five levels in the scale- mild, slight, medium, very hot and extreme.
Gochujang offers some great health benefits to the consumers. It has the ability to help people with weight loss by acting as a natural fat burner. Study shows that gochujang increases the metabolism of the body and helps people to lose weight. It also helps people to reduce the risk factors associated with heart diseases.
Antioxidants are very important for the human body, and gochujang contains a high quantity of antioxidants. Food or supplements that contain high antioxidants are very useful for the human body. Gochujang helps people who suffer from chronic inflammation and decrease high blood sugar levels.
As we know, gochujang adds a variety of flavors to a dish, and that is the reason why it is used in various traditional Korean dishes, such as rice cakes, rice bowls, soup, meat dishes, stew, and so on. You can also add it to seafood dishes in order to enhance the flavors.
We have seen quite a few people who are allergic to one or more ingredients used to make gochujang. Check the list of ingredients before having gochujang, or make sure that you see a doctor as soon as possible in case you experience any discomfort after having gochujang.
Spicy foods can often cause problems such as diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, and many more. So, make sure that you are well aware of your spice tolerance level before consuming gochujang.
Gochujang Vs Gochugaru : Head to Head Comparison
Both gochujang and gochugaru are popular spicy ingredients, often used in Korean dishes to add a unique flavor to food. However, there are quite a few noticeable differences between korean chili flakes vs red pepper flakes. The differences are:
When it comes to the texture of gochugaru and gochujang, the difference is very noticeable. While gochugaru has a fine and powdered texture that is a bit finer than chili pepper flakes but is a bit coarse than regular chili powder, gochujang is a red and thick chili paste.
2. Color And Taste
Other than texture, there is also a major difference between the colors of these two ingredients. While gochugaru has a bright red color, gochujang has a dark red or maroon color.
There is also a difference in the taste of gochujang and gochugaru. Gochugaru adds a level of spiciness and smokiness to dishes. Gochujang not only adds these flavors, but it also adds a certain level of sweetness to a dish, something that gochugaru does not do.
If we talk about the ingredients required to make gochugaru and gochujang, then we can see a large difference between them.
Gochugaru is made using only one ingredient, which is the taeyangcho chilies.
On the other hand, gochujang is manufactured using a long list of ingredients such as glutinous rice, sugar, fermented beans, and gochugaru is one of the main ingredients that make gochujang.
It is very easy to manufacture gochugaru as all you have to do is dry the taeyangcho chilies completely and crush them into a fine powder.
In contrast, it takes a lot of time to make gochujang, as there are quite a few ingredients that go into the recipe. It takes at least 12 hours to 2 days to prepare gochujang.
5. Health Benefits
Both gochugaru and gochujang offer some impressive health benefits to the people. Gochugaru helps people to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, prostate cancer and also supplies the human body with Vitamin A, E, and several useful minerals.
Gochujang helps people to reduce the risk of heart diseases and reduces the blood sugar levels. On top of that, it contains high antioxidants, helps people to increase metabolism and lose weight.
Gochugaru is way easier to store compared to gochujang. You can easily store gochugaru in a glass or plastic jar and keep it in a dry place.
On the other hand, if you keep gochujang at room temperature, then it will lose its taste and quality. It is essential to store gochujang in a glass jar and store it in the fridge at all times.
Both gochugaru and gochujang are used in a lot of traditional dishes in Korea, but they are not interchangeable. This means that you cannot use gochujang in place of gochugaru and vice versa.
Even though both of these are made up of chilies, there is a difference in texture, color, and taste. So, you have to decide whether gochugaru or gochujang is suitable before adding one to the dish.
Can I Use Gochujang Instead Of Gochugaru?
They’re both chili-based products and Gochugaru is one of the main ingredients for Gochujang. Yet, they are not interchangeable for each other’s uses.
The reason is they differ in texture and flavor. For instance, Gochugaru is a dried powder, while gochujang is a paste. Being made out of a simple process, gochugaru doesn’t have the complexity or layers of flavor gochujang has. Gochujang has a certain saltiness that gochugaru doesn’t contain.
If you want to use gochugaru instead of gochujang, you have to add water and other necessary ingredients to turn it into the latter. For vice versa, the fermented condiment cannot replace the fine dried powder texture of gochugaru altogether. What comes out will taste differently.
Hence, we suggest you don’t use them interchangeably, rather keep both in your kitchen to benefit from their unique flavors and textures.
Final Verdict: Which One Is Better?
Gochugaru and gochujang are both popular ingredients. Even though they are made out of chilies, there are quite a few differences between them, as we have discussed above in this gochugaru vs gochujang head to head comparison guide.
Since both have slightly different tastes and dishes they’re used on, there is no clear winner. You can use either one when cooking, depending on the dish you are making and the final taste you want.