Growing Your Own Gochugaru Korean Chili Pepper Flakes for Kimchi



Step up your kimchi game with Korean kimchi pepper flakes, Korean red chile pepper (or chili pepper), Gochugaru, or simply Hot Pepper Powder — some of the many names you will encounter for the essential ingredient in amazing kimchi or Gochujang, a fermented pepper paste. First, let’s get to know what makes this pepper powder special.

In our book Fermented Vegetables, we suggest folks use standard red pepper flakes to spice their kimchi — our reasoning was that often the Korean powders contain added salt and sometimes sugar and it is difficult to navigate the packaging.

It is also difficult to figure out the source of the peppers; many are grown in China and it is often unclear where the pepper is from. However, the standard chile flakes available in market spice sections are generally much hotter than the traditional gochugaru pepper flakes. Because of the difference in the pepper flakes two things happen; one is that your kimchi will be hotter with a much smaller quantity of flakes used. (There is a about a 4- to 5-fold difference).

The other is that, unlike the standard chile flakes that often come from thin-walled cayenne peppers, the gochu peppers (the Korean chiles) have a thick wall like a pimento or paprika type pepper, which acts as a slight thickener in the kimchi as well as that crazy cool red color. Therefore they also add more than heat; they have a complex flavor and a nice sweetness.


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