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If you haven’t tried cooking some Korean dishes, there are a lot of things that you’re missing in your cuisine. Just try some kimchi and you’ll understand what we’re talking about.
All the styles, spices, pastes, and ingredients involved make the Korean cuisine quite the unique one. And when it comes to spices, there’s nothing like gochugaru, which represents an essential part of any kimshi dish.
That’s not 100% accurate though, as there is actually a handful of things like kochukaru, or this article wouldn’t exist in the first place. Considering that gochugaru is quite hard to find in spice markets, it’s only natural to search for viable gochugaru substitute that you can use in your kitchen without missing the Korean eastern style.
What a relief, huh? If you’re an eastern-food lover, here are the best gochugaru alternatives that are widely available throughout the world, even in non-specialty supermarkets. Use any of these with your Spice Racks and Spice Grinders, and you’ll become a Korean food expert in no time.
What is Gochugaru?
Gochugaru goes by several names that are well-known in English speaking countries, such as Korean chili powder, Korean chili flakes, Hot pepper flakes, etc. Any of that sounds familiar?
Basically, made from sun-dried chilis or by hand, Gochugaru is a coarsely ground chili pepper with a texture that lies between powder and flakes. Gochugaru is mainly used to cook kimchi, but you can also include it in several side dishes, stews, and the gochujang paste.
Unlike traditional or Canned Chili that is characterized by its taste-numbing flavor, Gochugaru comes in two different types: maewoon, which is the spicy type, and deolmaewoon, the milder one.
Despite their differences, these types share some features, such as the irresistible aroma that other hot spices lack. To be more specific, Gochugaru usually scores 4000 to 8000 Scoville Units, which are used to measure spiciness.
What Are the Health Benefits of Gochugaru?
Just like other spices, Gochugaru comes with a plethora of health benefits, including:
It Regulates Blood Sugar
Thanks to the numerous nutritious substances that it has, Gochugaru can control and regulate blood Sugar levels, which makes it perfect for people who are prone to diabetes.
It Can Prevent Prostate Cancer
Hot peppers that you use in your Salt and Pepper Grinder Set get their spiciness from a chemical called capsaicin, which can prevent prostate cancer according to different studies done on the matter.
It Has a Lot of Vitamins
One tablespoon of Gochugaru contains 15% of the DRI of Vitamin E. In other words, should you prepare some salad using your Salad Dressing Shaker and Salad Spinner and serve it on your Dinnerware Set with a grain of Gochugaru, you’re bound to get a helluva vitamin intake.
It Packs a Lot of Minerals
Gochugaru contains iron, a mineral that the body uses to produce red blood cells, and copper, which can prevent a handful of disease.
Top Gochugaru Substitutes that You Can Use Today
Here are the top 7 recommended Gochugaru substitutes:
New Mexico Chili
Topping our list, the New Mexico Chili powder is one of the safest Gochugaru substitutes, as it can have from 500 to 2500 Scoville Units, making it on the milder side of the spectrum. So, if you’re not one to stand the heat when eating, this may be the best option for you.
Keep in mind that New Mexico Chili powder comes in two types; green and red, with the first having the closest taste to Gochugaru, while the latter is the closest in color.
Aleppo Pepper Flakes
Beware when using this spice, as the Aleppo Pepper Flakes pack around 10.000 Scoville Units, making them some of the spiciest on our list, which is to be expected considering that this spice comes from Aleppo, an Arabic town in Syria.
The Aleppo Pepper Flakes are spicier than Gochugaru, but both of them share the texture and slightly sweet note, with the first having a fruity sweetness, which makes it unsuitable for people who prefer pure spiciness.
If you’re someone who enjoys hot spicy food, you can’t go wrong with the Cayenne pepper, although you need to be careful when adding it to your dishes as it’s way spicier than Gochugaru, despite having a similar color. Cayenne pepper can have anything from 30000 to 50000 Scoville Units, making it the spiciest among the best Gochugaru substitutes.
Cayenne pepper comes in tow forms; powder and flakes. The flakes have a texture that’s similar to that of Gochugaru, but they may be annoying for some people as they do have seeds. The powder form, on the other hand, is somehow milder, which makes it more suitable for the majority of Gochugaru lovers.
Kashmiri Pepper can be hard to find these days, but it’s still more available than Gochugaru, so if you come across it, don’t hesitate to get some for your kitchen. You have to test the spiciness of this spice yourself as there isn’t much information available about it, but you’ll definitely like its deep red color that resembles that of Gochugaru.
Gochujang and Gochugaru are made of the same pepper, which is gochu, making them close cousins. Gochujang is a paste though, so it contains other ingredients, such as rice, salt, and soybeans.
If you decide to with Gochujang, make sure to adjust the recipe to avoid ruining the taste with the saltiness of this paste.
Chile De Arbol
Among Gochugaru substitutes, Chile de Arbol is the cheapest, easiest to find, and closest to the real thing. How, you may ask? Well, let’s explain.
Chile de Arbol has a unique smokiness that’s different of that of the other alternatives on our list. Besides, it offers a nutty quality that’s rarely available in these spices. Finally, Chile de Arbol is available in three forms; flakes, powder, and paste.
The only thing that you need to keep in mind is that this spice is spicier than Gochugaru, as it packs 15000 to 30000 Scoville Units, placing it on the spicy side.
Chipotle peppers are created by smoking and drying Jalapenos, which is the secret behind the smoky, spicy, and sweet taste.
You can get Chipotle peppers in two forms; whole and powder. If you want to get the best taste, steer away from the powdered form as many brands mix Chipotle peppers with other powdered peppers in an attempt to reduce the cost, which may alter the taste.
If you decide to go with Chipotle, opt for whole, dried peppers. If they are not available, look for a reputable brand when searching for powdered packages.
It’s simple; if you can find it, don’t substitute it. Although any of the above spices can be an excellent alternative to Gochugaru, it’s better to search for the real thing before opting for any one of them.
If that’s not an option, any of the suggestion can be great for your dishes, and it all depends on your preferences, needs, and cooking style.
To pick the best spice, experiment with all of them until you find what suits you. Remember, keep a Beer Glass, a Champagne Glass, or any Beverage Dispenser nearby when testing new spices, as some of them may prove to be too hot. Alternatively, you can spray some Olive Oil using your Olive Oil Dispenser over your spicy dishes, as that’s a sure way to make them more bearable.
While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!