Doubanjiang vs Gochujang: 7 Differences You Need to Know

Eastern Asian cuisine, mainly Chinese and Korean, has provided delicious pastes and dips. Doubanjiang and his close cousin, Gouchjang, are just two examples of these fantastic pastes. These two are very similar and are used in many recipes. Both of them add a spicy tone to your dishes.

The similarities between both pastes made many people confuse one for another. However, true fans of Sichuan food can easily distinguish both pastes.

If you want more insight into them, keep reading this doubanjiang vs. gochujang comparison. We will shed light on their unique characteristics and basic distinctions.

Doubanjiang vs. Gochujang
The main differences between Doubanjiang and Gochujang Pastes are their origin, sweetness, spiciness, ingredients, texture, uses, and availability. Both pastes have a deep red color, but the former is not always spicy, while the latter is only spicy.

What is Doubanjiang Paste?

Doubanjiang originated in China, particularly in Sichuan. This paste is known for being the soul of Sichuan cuisine. However, it is not an exclusive item for dishes from this region only. It can be found in the Hunan province, along with their famous local chicken dishes.

In simple words, doubanjiang is a spicy paste made of beans. It is a main ingredient in various savory Chinese recipes. The paste is commonly added to numerous stir-fry dishes.

Also, it is always present in mapo tofu and Sichuan hotpot. Despite its common use as a spicy item, there are varieties of this paste that are not spicy.

Doubanjiang paste primarily consists of broad fermented beans. Then other ingredients are added to create the paste, including white floursalt, rice, and soybeans.

Mixing all these components creates the basic, non-spicy version of the paste. If you want to spice things up, add chili peppers, particularly red ones.  

What is Gochujang Paste?

Gochujang paste is a product of Korean cuisine. This paste is mainly used to increase the spiciness of many dishes. This paste is highly prized for its thick texture and mild sweetness. The main component in making this paste is the red chili peppers.

This is how it gets its deep red color and spiciness. Then, the hot herb is mixed with fermented soybeans and sticky rice. Despite some sweetness in this paste, salt is one of its main ingredients.

Like doubanjiang paste, this one needs fermentation for a very long time. The ingredients should be left to ferment for a couple of years. However, it has not been left for that long in modern times. It is usually fermented for about 4 or 5 months.

During the fermentation process, the glutinous rice releases its natural starches. Then, they naturally turn into sugars, which explains their natural sweetness.

This paste is commonly used in creating marinades for numerous meat recipes. It is also present in the famous Korean rice cake. Moreoverit is a preferred choice for dressing Korean chicken bowls.

Differences between Doubanjiang Paste and Gochujang Paste

Despite the common confusion between doubanjiang and gochujang, they shouldn’t be mistaken for each other at all. There are obvious differences in their flavors, uses, and ingredients. Gochujang paste is very similar to miso paste, particularly in its components.

1. Origin

Doubanjiang and gochujang came from East Asia but came from different countries. Doubanjiang originated in China, while gochujang came from South Korea.

2. Sweetness

Despite the similar ingredients in both pastes, they provide a different level of sweetness. Doubanjiang is not considered sweet at all. The sweetness in gochujang is created naturally from the starches of sticky rice. This type of rice is not used in the ingredients of doubanjiang paste.

So, generally, gochujang paste combines sweetness and savoriness, while doubanjiang is mainly savory or even salty.

3. Ingredients

The main ingredient in both pastes is beans, but they are made with different types of beans. Doubanjiang is made of broad fermented beans. 

Gochujang is made from fermented soybeans. Furthermore, chili powder or pepper flakes are not a primary component of basic doubanjiang. However, they are indeed used for creating gochujang.

4. Texture

Doubanjiang paste is famous for its thicker consistency, whereas gochujang is smoother. When you use both pastes, you will have to dilute them. However, the thicker paste requires more dilution.

The higher starch content in doubanjiang gives the paste a chunkier texture, while gochujang remains velvety.

5. Spiciness

Gochujang paste is undeniably spicy. This spiciness comes from the included red chili pepper flakes. Sometimes, these flakes are replaced by dried powder from the same peppers. Doubanjiang paste, on the other hand, can be found in both spicy and non-spicy versions. 

The spicy version is known as “la doubanjiang.” The former is usually hotter when comparing the spicy version of doubanjiang with the spicy gochujang.

6. Uses

As a Chinese paste, the doubanjiang paste is used in authentic Chinese recipes such as mapo tofu. On the other hand, gochujang is more commonly used in creating authentic Korean meat and chicken recipes. Also, it is used in rice cakes.

Despite sharing the same color, these two Asian pastes should not be used interchangeably. The sweet profile of gochujang and the intense savory taste of doubanjiang can ruin some recipes.

So, if you have to substitute one for another, use it carefully. Doubanjiang can replace gochujang in seasoning some chicken and meat recipes.

7. Availability

In their native countries, both pastes can be easily found. However, doubanjiang is easier to find in Western countries due to the strong presence of Chinese immigrants all over the West.

Doubanjiang vs. Gochujang: are they the same?

No, doubanjiang and gochujang pastes are not the same. Their outside appearances can lead to common confusion. Both of them are deep or brownish-red. Also, they are used in various Asian dishes.

However, they widely vary in their flavor profiles, as doubanjiang increases the saltiness of a meal. Gochujang can create a balanced flavor between sweet and savory.

Doubanjiang is thicker and crumblier, while gochujang is smoother. Additionally, it is easier to come across doubanjiang in the U.S. and the West due to the high number of Chinese immigrants.

Lastly, their uses are different, so it is better to avoid using them interchangeably.

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