If you’re looking to improve your Asian cooking skills, then you’re definitely going to want to stock your spice pantry with some gochugaru! If you don’t know what gochugaru is, I’ll give you a hint: in Korean, gochu means “chili pepper” and garu means “powder.” That’s right – it’s chili powder! Made from dried chili peppers that have been deseeded, gochugaru spices have a fiery red hue and can range from mildly to very hot. Gochugaru is an undeniable staple in Korean cuisine, so If adding gochugaru to your arsenal of spices sounds up your alley, keep reading on.
Gochugaru consists of a spicy, sweet, and smoky flavor profile, which makes it a very versatile and widely used spice. Gochugaru is usually only made from sun-dried Korean red peppers called taeyang-cho that have been ground into a fine powder or flakes. It’s unclear when gochugaru was first used in the kitchen, but it’s fair to assume it has origins in Central America, just like all hot peppers. However, some Korean historians have claimed the spice can be traced back to Korea in the 1200s, and some think the gochugaru has existed in the country even longer.
If you’re familiar with Korean cuisine, then you’ve definitely heard of gochugaru – and you’ve probably heard of gochujang, too. If you don’t know, gochujang is a chili paste made from red chili pepper flakes, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. Gochujang is also considered to be a fundamental staple in Korean culture, but the two chili-based ingredients aren’t as similar as you’d think.
When it comes to gochugaru vs. gochujang, the latter is certainly more multi-purposeful because gochujang is considered a condiment, while gochugaru is just a seasoning. Gochujang can be used to marinate beef, chicken, and ribs, or as a sauce in baked and fried chicken dishes. Gochujang can also be a glaze, dressing, or a stew base. Similar to its spice counterpart, gochujang also contains a spicy, savory, and sweet flavor palette, so if you’re really in a pinch, gochujang can act as a gochugaru substitute. Conversely, gochugaru can really only be used as a seasoning, but luckily for you its widespread flavor profile makes it compatible with a range of different dishes, including cold salads, stews, marinades, and kimchi.
Think you’re ready to start incorporating gochugaru into your dishes? If so, let’s go through all the products on Bokksu Market that would compliment the spice perfectly.
Right now, there are a ton of kimchi products available on Bokksu Market that would go great with a dusting of gochugaru. For example, the Mul Naengmyeon Cold Soup Base, which is made with chewy naengmyeon (Korean buckwheat noodles) and a refreshing mul base, is practically begging for an extra blast of heat to balance out the cool, light base.
Or, you can also spruce up your go-to ramen routine with a little help from gochugaru. Featuring a savory soup made up of soy sauce, beef stock, and chicken broth, the Sapporo Ichiban Original Ramen from Sanyo Foods could greatly benefit from the added pop of flavor.
Before you run off to make your first gochugaru dish, make sure to check out these grocery must-haves and more at Bokksu Market, the Asian grocery delivery service that lets you order groceries online, so you can spend less time at the grocery store, and more time at the dinner table.
By Jillian Giandurco