Red pepper/chili powder - gochugaru 고추가루

Other Staple Korean Ingredients

Despite the name, this is actually a powdered sun-dried red chili, not a red pepper as most brand names would lead you to believe. It may have started out as being called ‘red chili pepper powder’, and somewhere along the line ‘chili’ was deleted, or perhaps there was an element of ‘lost in translation. In any case, this red chili pepper powder is what is used to make gochujang, and is also the key spice ingredient for all kimchi’s, and a lot of sauces too. The flavour profile is smoky, slightly sweet and well rounded, and while it is of course spicy, it is nothing like as hot as an Indian chili powder for example. Really there is nothing similar to it, so while you could substitute another chili powder the result would not be authentically Korean in flavour. It keeps very well if kept air tight in a dark environment, so it is worth buying when you find yourself in an Asian store.

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