Here's What You Can Substitute For Gochujang

The lament of cooks everywhere: elbow-deep into a new recipe and, boom – you realize you're out of a key ingredient. Sure you already know how to make buttermilk with regular milk and vinegar or a quick substitute for tomato paste in a recipe. But what about gochujang? The umami-rich Korean condiment has taken the culinary world by storm, used as the star ingredient in everything from chicken bowls and slurp-worthy noodles to pork ribs and a crunchy fennel side dish (via Bon Appétit).

Gochujang, the uniquely-flavored condiment, can be described as a labor of love. The paste is made from soybeans that are cooked and pressed together to form a brick called meju. Gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder) is mixed into the meju along with rice flour and salt. In some cases, a sweetener is added, presumably to balance the savory flavor profile. Once mixed, the gochujang goes through a resting period where the condiment ferments. This can take several months to reach the chef's kiss-perfect amount of fermentation. The result is a not-quite-miso, not-quite-Sriracha thick sauce of lush deliciousness (via Chicago Tribune).

Making your very own in less than 30 seconds is not going to happen. So what can you use if a recipe calls for gochujang – and you're fresh out?

Here's what you can use as a gochujang substitute

Turns out, you have options. You can use Sriracha, the pungent Thai red pepper sauce that lives next to many home cooks' hot sauce, but be careful the substitute will make your dish heavy on garlic and heat, and less on the smoky-sweet umami-ness of gochujang. Or you can make a paste using a mixture of soy sauce and red pepper flakes, adding a pinch of sugar to add the savory mouth feel of gochujang – this would be what Tim Gunn would call a "make it work" moment and not your first choice for a gochujang substitute (via Pepperscale).

The outlet created a home version of gochujang you can make and keep on hand; but if you are truly at wit's end and looking for a substitute. You can get by using tomato paste, but make sure to make up for the unbalanced seasonings somewhere else during the cooking process.