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Red pepper powder (kochukaru / gochugaru)

November 23, 2010
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One of the core ingredients in Korean cuisine is red pepper powder or kochukaru / gochugaru. We wanted to stress that this is an ingredient that you’ll need to buy in an Asian grocery store. Please do not try to use cayenne pepper in these recipes. And do not use crushed red pepper flakes. Apart from the physical pain such choices will cause you, your wallet will also be hurting.

You can buy pepper powder by the pound, so if you plan on making your own banchan, you need to pick up a bag.

Here’s a look at two of the brands we bought recently:

IMG_1106

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2011 1:56 pm

    Great blog. Just discovered it. I love Korean food but so difficult to find vegan in restaurants. About the red pepper powder–I have been using my own dried red peppers to make kimchi and we like it fairly mild. The only reason that I haven’t used the red pepper powder is because I don’t know what is in it and how it is processed. I felt that there must be additives to make is so moist. Can you help me out.

    Thanks
    Alice in Toronto

  2. Sunnie permalink*
    February 27, 2011 5:40 pm

    Hi, Alice in Toronto!

    Thanks for finding us, we are so glad to find your blog too. Your post about walking just really inspired me to start walking again – and your food pictures look so yummy. As for the Korean pepper powder — growing up, my mom used to make her own red pepper powder by grinding a huge bag of dried red Korean pepper in a machine that our town mill had, and they would always come out really moist. We would keep it for a year or two and they would stay that way. I think it’s more the texture of the peppers more than anything… so I wouldn’t be too worried about the store-bought pepper powder. There are also a lot of organic Korean pepper powder brands if you can find them in your store!

  3. January 26, 2012 1:40 pm

    Looking for bulk size of Gochugaru Korean red chili pepper powder to use in manufacturing.
    Where can I find?

    • Bill permalink*
      January 27, 2012 2:48 pm

      Hi, Lynn. Thanks for visiting us. Unfortunately, outside of Korean grocery stores, which carry larger bags of pepper powder, I don’t know where else to direct you. If you have a local Korean grocery store or restaurant, I would recommend contacting them and seeing if they can point you to a resource. Good luck!

  4. jim may permalink
    March 24, 2012 1:40 pm

    Assi Food Market has really big bags of it. Like 10 pounds.
    Google Assi to find a location

  5. Razia permalink
    April 30, 2012 12:14 am

    How can I order gochugaru everyone? I lived in Brunei

    • Bill permalink*
      April 30, 2012 8:19 am

      Hmm, I really have no idea, Razia. Anyone else out there have any ideas? The only online stores I’m aware of only ship to the US…. I hope you are able to find it somewhere. Good luck!

  6. May 10, 2012 3:50 pm

    Hi. I bought a bag of crushed red pepper here in San Francisco and made my kimchi. I was disappointed when I went to make my next batch and found my pepper had molded. I’m wondering if I should store it in the refrigerator. I just bought some more and it is a more manageable 8 oz. bottle.

    • Bill permalink*
      May 11, 2012 8:38 pm

      Hi, KP. Hmm, that’s odd. Did you keep it sealed well? We have never had that happen to us, and we get pretty big bags of pepper powder. We do make a point to seal it well immediately after use to try and keep as much air out as possible, but we have never had to refrigerate it before! The manufacturer can make a difference. So perhaps the brand you bought keeps their powder more moist? I don’t see a harm in keeping it in the refrigerator if you’re having mold issues. Good luck!

    • Bob permalink
      August 10, 2013 10:56 pm

      Refrigerating causes condensation and allows mold spores to get a “hit” of the concentrated moisture they need to start growing. Keep it at room temperature and if you remember that it’s in there, add a few grains of rice to absorb any moisture. Don’t use this rice in your recipes. pour it through a strainer or make sure it’s separated. It should last for years.

  7. Richard C permalink
    January 23, 2013 3:19 pm

    Has anyone found an Organic Red Pepper powder or flakes. If so please send the brand or producer (something I can track it down by). I’ve not been able to find it anywhere!
    Thanks.

    • Bill permalink*
      January 23, 2013 7:30 pm

      Hi, Richard. We have not. Let us know if you find any, and we’ll do the same!

    • Bob permalink
      August 10, 2013 11:03 pm

      I just grow my own cayenne peppers. I’m trying to find what kochu powder is and that’s why I’m reading these posts. If you can get seeds for gochu peppers, I think a few plants planted indoors or out would provide plenty of your own organic grown needs.

      • Bill permalink*
        August 13, 2013 4:54 am

        Thanks for the insights, Bob!

  8. December 17, 2013 3:58 pm

    is it the same red pepper from thiland?

    • Bill permalink*
      December 17, 2013 5:04 pm

      No, Thai will be hotter, I believe.

    • Razia metussin permalink
      January 2, 2014 3:19 am

      Some say using one of the Thai chilli can produce same taste.. Is it true?

      • Bill permalink*
        January 2, 2014 7:27 am

        Haven’t tried it but I have my doubts.

  9. txdav4 permalink
    January 2, 2014 3:50 am

    Depends on where you live, but in Southern California – H Mart – a Korean market has many brands of red pepper, including organic, and including small bottles, to large bags of several pounds. Just bought a 4lb bag tonight.

    • Bill permalink*
      January 2, 2014 6:47 am

      Yes, any Korean grocer will carry it. Our nearest Hmart is in Chicago, so they are around!

  10. Helen permalink
    January 7, 2014 12:19 am

    I would love to get a brand name for the organic gochugaru as well. Please let me know if anyone does.

    I find almost all gochugaru in Korean markets bear Product of China so it’s virtually impossible to find any gochugaru that says Product of Korea. luckily on my recent trip to Hmart (460km from my town) I managed to find just one brand (Chonggajip-100%Kugsan/Korean) in small 200g package – (www.chonggafood.com) It is definitely more expensive but I would not use ones from China especially for making Kimchi with organic ingredients. Last year, I got hold of organic Korean gochugaru from South Africa at one of Korean markets in Montreal as they do not sell ones from Korea. The reason was the cost; they are too expensive so no one would want to pay for it. Excuse me??? So he recommended Korean farmer’s gochugaru from South Africa. It’s pretty good but for making Kimchi I still prefer the ones from Korea.

    As for the Thai chilli powder (I dry and ground my own), I use only tiny amount in addition to gochugaru which gives that extra kick. I initially added it for my Thai friends but now everyone loves it.

    • Bill permalink*
      January 13, 2014 5:42 pm

      Thanks for the great info!

  11. anna permalink
    January 10, 2014 9:59 pm

    Hello i’m in hongkong…where I cam buy the gochugaru..
    .I like to meka a khimchi…?

    • Bill permalink*
      January 13, 2014 5:41 pm

      Anyone have any suggestions?

  12. February 2, 2014 12:07 am

    Best place I went for a bag was at Asian markets in Rowland heights Colima road.

  13. Sandy permalink
    February 28, 2014 9:04 am

    Hi,

    I love your blog ! It’s not easy to find vegan korean recipes on the internet.

    I have one question: I’d like to make kimchi for the first time….could you tell me, how hot this gochugaru powder is on a scale from 1 (very mild) to 10 (super super hot) ?
    I’m not a huge fan of super hot food but I’d love to try making kimchi :-)

    Thx and regards from Vienna (Austria)
    Sandy

    • Bill permalink*
      February 28, 2014 9:58 pm

      Hi, Sandy. Well it’s hard to say because people take heat differently. For example something hot to my mom is mild to me that I don’t even know it’s supposed to be spicy. I guess I would say a 5 on a scale of 10. To me, it provides a good flavor, but not a ton of heat. So spicier than a chili powder but not near as spicy as cayenne. Your best bet is to taste as you go. You can always add more pepper powder and tasting the kimchi as you make it is tradition! Good luck!

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