WHAT IS IT?
Gochugaru chili, the Korean pepper, has 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. There is a culinary method to the consistencies.
The question, in Korea, isn’t “What do you use it on?” The question is: “What don’t you use it on?” The powder finds its way into applications where the texture of the flakes is less desirable.
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, in this version. Some are ground with the seeds and pith, for a “hot” version.
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 with the flakes, to get more of the flavor, without either the visual clutter of the flakes, or the ability for them to find their way between teeth.
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.
- Gochujang – Korea’s national fermented chili paste;
- Oi-muchim – Seasoned Cucumber;
- Shabu-Shabu – Beef and mushroom hot pot.
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- Korean meatloaf – The American classic, with a Korean seasoning twist, served with house kimchi and rice;.
- Kormaican Jerk Beef – A hybrid mix of Jamaican brine, and Korean bulgogi finish;
- Gemelli Gwangju – Gemelli pasta; gochugaru powder, mascarpone, garlic, green onions, and spices.
- Gochugaru Tagine Chicken – Moroccan cooking’s tagine, with a Korean-flavored palette for the chicken. Served over couscous.
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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