What is gochugaru and what can you do with it?

Miso, oyster sauce and gochujang are used by most foodies used regularly, but there are also delicious seasonings that we use less often. A shame, because these are often the products that make your dish interesting. Today we will tell you all about gochugaru. Because what is gochugaru and what do you make with it?

What is gochugaru?

It initially reminds you of gochujang, which is not crazy at all. Gochugaru is an important ingredient of this spicy paste. But what exactly is gochugaru? They are (dried) peppers from South Korea, often in finely ground form. ‘Gochu’ means chili pepper, and ‘garu’ means powder. The translation actually says exactly what it is, although you often see a somewhat coarser ground variant in the shops, so it is not a powder. The color of the powder (or flakes) is usually bright to dark red.

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How does gochugaru taste?

You may already suspect it, but because they are peppers, the taste is especially spicy and a bit smoky. You have different variants in terms of spiciness, with the mild variant even tasting a bit sweet.

Where do you buy it?

You will only find this Korean product in few supermarkets, so it is best to go to the toko or an Asian supermarket. The product is not called the same everywhere, you can also encounter it as Korean chili flakes or kimchi powder. There are different variants in terms of spiciness and in form (powder or flakes), so get good advice on which one to buy if you are going to make kimchi yourself, for example.

How can you replace it?

Although the taste will be slightly different, you can also use chili powder or chili flakes. For the smoky taste you can add a little smoked paprika powder, but be careful. Otherwise, the smoky flavor will dominate.

How do you store it and how long does it keep?

Like most dried herbs and spices, gochugaru has an extremely long shelf life. Make sure you keep the dried peppers in a sealed jar, preferably in a dark place. Over time, the intensity of the smell and taste will decrease slightly. Always check the packaging for the expiration date.

What can you do with it?

A lot! As we told you before, it is an important ingredient of gochujang, but you also need it if you are going to make your own kimchi. In addition, it is a delicious chili pepper with a deep flavor, so gochugaru comes in handy in many dishes. For example, think of a spicy marinade, as a topping for noodle soup or in Korean savory pancakes. In short; it goes well with any dish that could use some spice.

Recipes with gochugaru

Got an appetite and curious about what you can make with it? We collected our favorite gochugaru recipes. Choose your favorite and quickly dive into the kitchen!

Spicy tempeh

Anke talks about the recipe from their former restaurant ToKokoro: “Oioioi, that tempeh! The first months of ToKokoro Ramen we didn’t do tofu and tempeh, for the simple reason that we hadn’t found a way yet that we really liked it enough to add to our ramen. Until we tasted a very well prepared tempeh and thought: this is it! It can certainly be tasty and this is the way! Since it has been on the menu, it has been ordered like a charm.”

> to the recipe: spicy tempeh

Spicy tempeh

Photo: Da Silva Photography

Korean sticky tofu

Emma de Thouars about her recipe: “In almost every Southeast Asian country, tourist restaurants serve a version of ‘sweet and sour chicken’, usually a far too sweet paste. Except in Korea, where you eat kkanpunggi: crispy fried chicken in the perfectly balanced sweet and sour sauce. Fortunately, that sauce is also very tasty with crispy tofu. Peppers are often added, but I don’t like wandering vegetables through my tofu. I prefer to make a separate vegetable dish such as a Korean salad. I copied the technique of first making a spring onion-garlic-chili oil and using it to make the sauce from Korean YouTube queen Maangchi. This makes the sauce taste lightly roasted and you can immediately make spring onion and garlic crispies. Of course I never say no to that.”

> to the recipe: Korean sticky tofu

Korean sticky tofu

Korean savory pancake with tofu

These savory pancakes with tofu are ideal as a snack, as a starter or as a main course. In short; no reason not to make them!

> to the recipe: Korean savory pancake with tofu

Korean savory pancake with tofu

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