We’re Hiring!  Join our Team.  Learn More>>

Chili Bean Paste

It would be reasonable to confuse chili bean paste and chili paste as the same thing, but don’t think they’re not distinct. Chili paste is just what it sounds like, while chili bean paste is a fermented bean paste flavored with chilis.

While chili bean paste is spicy, it’s not overpowering and is more of a mild-to-moderate spice level layered with other, more complex savory flavors. Because of that it adds a really lovely warming element to its dishes.

Varieties of chili bean paste are common in both Sichuan and Korean cooking, and the Korean version is also known by the name gochujang. Certain varieties or brands may include other spices like garlic, but the ever-present ingredients are chilis, fermented bean paste, salt, and often flour as a thickener (although there are gluten free varieties available if you seek them out).

In Sichuan cuisine, chili bean paste is rather ubiquitous; it’s commonly used to flavor tofu dishes, noodle dishes, hot pot, stir fries, and many other things. In Korean cuisine, it’s also used extremely often — frequently in stews and other dishes like bibimbap. Both cuisines often combine it with oil as a base for dishes to impart a fragrant, warming spice profile with the other ingredients.

You can find both Sichuan and Korean chili bean pastes in Uwajimaya’s condiments and cooking sauce aisles.