Gochugaru chili pepper flakes are more than a seasoning. They are a national identity, for Korean cuisine.
Gochugaru chili flakes have such a unique flavor profile. Anyone, who is familiar with the taste, not knowing the pepper, immediately can identify it as: “Korean food!”
Gochu, in Korean, means chili pepper. Garu means powder. The pepper is both ground, and flaked. Here, it’s is a bit misleading, since the pepper is a flaked consistency.
The question, in Korea, isn’t “What do you use it on?” The question is: “What don’t you use it on?”
The chile’s flavor is fruity, smoky, with a distinct high-iron tang. Less earthy than urfa biber pepper flakes, they’re a milder, very similar taste profile to the Chimayo chiles of New Mexico, which share that clay and high-iron soil draw.
Gochugaru’s Korean Pepper base is already a relatively tame 1500 SHU. After drying, it is deseeded, and largely de-pithed, to bring down the heat. The flakes are the air-dried skin, and fruit.
They add a significant amount of bold, savory richness to any dish, in addition to a slight sweetness, and a touch of heat.
Powder is used, sometimes in combination, to get more of the flavor, without leaving too many of the flakes, that can get stuck in teeth, in the mix.
Gochugaru is a staple chili seasoning around Asia. The majority of this pepper is produced in South Korea. Gyeongbuk, Jeonnam, Jeonbuk, Chungnam, Chungbuk are the top producing areas.
Five centuries ago, Korean cuisine was changed forever. Hot red peppers were imported to the peninsula, in the early 17th century, most likely via the Portuguese introduction of them into Japan. It took roughly 200 years until the low-spicy peppers were fully culturally adopted. Once that happened, though, it totally shifted the flavor palette of Korean cuisine.
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