(Last update: June 19, 2015)
Gochugaru (고추가루) has a few different English names under its belt.
Korean chili powder, Korean chili flakes, Hot pepper flakes, red pepper flakes etc. Gochugaru is one of the most important Korean cooking ingredients. It is used in Gochujang (Korean chili paste), Kimchi, spicy Korean soups and stews (e.g. Sundubu Jjaigae) and spicy Korean side dishes (e.g. Korean spicy cucumber salad).
Korean chili powder tastes different (e.g. often not as spicy) to other chili powder varieties (e.g. Thai chili) available on the market, so it is best not to substitute with these kinds. Please also note that some Korean chili powder is spicier than others.
Typical Korean households make their own chili powder. They try to source good quality dried Korean red chilies at a farmer’s market and once they bring them home they do the following. (It is also possible to buy dried red chilies that are already trimmed and cleaned.)
- Cut the stem off the red chilies with a pair of scissors and open one side of the chili and shake off the seeds. (According to my mum, it is best to leave some seeds on still as it makes more tasty chili powder.)
- Wipe the chilies with a dry cloth thoroughly and take it to their local rice mill (Bangatgan, 방앗간) and ask them to be ground according to their preferred particle size.
There are mainly two different kinds of Korean chili powder and they are used for different cooking needs.
- Fine chili powder -> Gochujang and radish water Kimchi
- Coarse chili powder (This is more versatile in its use.) -> Kimchi, Korean side dishes and soups & stews
How to store Korean chili powder
Once you open the package, it needs to be kept in a cool shaded place. It can get mouldy if you don’t store it well. I keep mine in an air tight container and in the fridge. When the chili powder gets hardened, you can use the food processor to separate it again. Just a few seconds of pulse will fix it.
You might also like