Korean Chili Pepper Flakes

korean-chili-pepper-flakes

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The word Gochugaru (or Gochu-garu) is often used interchangeably when referring to Korean chili pepper flakes. This is because the flakes are made from Gochugaru peppers which are dried and ground into coarse form, not powdered, with no seeds. Other common terms for these chili flakes are Gochugaru pepper flakes, Korean chili flakes, Korean hot pepper flakes, and Korean chili powder.

gochugaru-korean-pepper-seeds
Gochugaru peppers used for making Korean chili pepper flakes

Taeyangcho vs. Gochugaru

The term Taeyangcho is often used when referring to the Gochugaru chili flakes. However, there is a difference. Derived from the word “Taeyang (태양)” means “sun” in Korean, taeyangcho is defined as sundried red peppers. So essentially the flakes come from the same pepper, the difference being the way they are dried. The sundried variety is said to have a better flavor and generally costs more at the market. Sun dried peppers maintain their red color better than those dried in an oven or dehydrator creating more visual appeal as Maangchi explains in this Kimchi FAQ video.

Uses For Korean Chili Pepper Flakes

The pepper flakes are very versatile and used in many Korean recipes. Although the flakes are most commonly used with Napa cabbage to make Kimchi (Tongbaechu-kimchi 통배추김치), you’ll find the flakes used in everything from soups and stews to Korean barbeque. They’re even great with fish, try them in this recipe for Spicy Cod Fillets (Daegusal-jorim 대구살조림). Below are a few more recipes you may enjoy using Korean chili pepper flakes.

As you can see the Gochugaru chili pepper flakes are very versatile and can be used with most meats and vegetables. Here is a link to even more recipes using Korean hot pepper flakes.

The chili pepper flakes can also be used to make Gochujang as well, a hot pepper paste. We love Gochujang but it’s quite a process to do properly and takes a few months to ferment so we typically buy ours. If you’re having a hard time finding it locally you can purchase Gochujang on Amazon.

Can I Grow Gochugaru Peppers?

Absolutely. However, Gochugaru peppers or plants are difficult to find at the market. As such you’ll need to start plants from seed if you’d like to grow your own. Gochugaru Korean pepper seeds can be purchased in our store. The Gochugaru pepper plants grow to a height of about 24-36″ tall and are very prolific. Gochugaru plants can easily be grown in a container provided it has at least a 5-gallon capacity. The peppers average about 0.75″ in diameter and 4.5″ long, they are tubular with a blunt end. The peppers are thick walled resulting in a good amount of powder. If you’re looking for an estimate, we typically get about 2 cups of Gochugaru flakes from each plant. Peppers are harvested once they reach a bright red color.

gochugaru-peppers-growing

Make Korean Chili Pepper Flakes

Now that you’ve grown your own Gochugau peppers you’ll need to dry them out to make the flakes. NOTE: Be sure and always wear gloves when working with hot peppers. Start by cutting off the stem end then cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Next, remove the seeds, they’re easy to scrape out with a spoon. Don’t forget to save some seeds to grow next year. At this point you have two options for drying.

Dehydrator

If you plan on using a dehydrator, we recommend using a low temperature to preserve as much color as possible. No need for any fancy dehydrator either, we use this simple dehydrator by Nesco. You can start by dehydrating at 110F but keep in mind that these are thick-walled peppers and it will take a long time to fully dry at this temperature. If you’re pressed for time and are not concerned about maintaining color then you can set the dehydrator at 135F. See our full article on how to dehydrate hot peppers.

Sun Dried Peppers

If you’d prefer to try the Taeyangcho method of sun drying the peppers you can start preparing the peppers the same way mentioned above. However, since the sun drying process will take longer, we recommend cutting the peppers into much smaller pieces to expedite the drying process. When air drying there is always a concern for molding. Ensure the peppers dry as quickly as possible be sure. Smaller pieces will dry faster. You’ll also need some sort of screen or wire rack to suspend the peppers so air can reach all sides of the pepper pieces. The openings of the screen you use will dictate how small you can cut up the peppers.

Are The Peppers Dry?

No matter the drying method used, the peppers should snap when bent if they are dry enough to make into flakes. If they bend or feel flexible at all let them dry longer.

Final Process

Now that the chili pepper pieces are fully dry it’s time to make your very own Korean chili pepper flakes. We start by crushing the peppers up with gloved hands. The peppers are thick walled, so you’ll likely only be able to get them to a very coarse state by hand. Next, we recommend using a blender or food processor to get them to the flake form. Place only a small amount at a time in the blender. Then just use the pulse feature until the peppers are in a flake consistency. If you try and put too many of the pepper pieces in the blender at once you’ll end up with more powder than flakes.

Conclusion

We hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions, be sure and post in the comment section below. If you’d like to grow peppers and make your own Korean chili pepper flakes you can purchase Gochugaru pepper seeds in our seed shop. We sell many other varieties of pepper seeds as well, including other Asian peppers. If you’re pressed for time or not interested in growing peppers you can always just purchase Gochugaru pepper flakes.

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