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8 Best Gochugaru Substitute For Kimchi To Impress The Koreans

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made up of a variety of salted and fermented vegetables, including, but not limited to napa cabbage, Korean radish, burdock roots, garlic chives, bamboo shoot, radish green, scallions, soybean sprouts, sugar beets, tomatoes, and cress. The commonly used seasonings for kimchi are gochugaru, ginger, garlic, scallions, and jeotgal.

Kimchi is very easy and cheap to make at home. It would make a tasty and healthy side dish. However, gochugaru, one of the spices needed to make kimchi, might not be accessible to everyone. Here are some alternatives you can consider.

  1. Gochujang
  2. Chipotle Powder
  3. Cayenne pepper
  4. Paprika
  5. Chile pasilla
  6. Guajillo powder
  7. Chile de Arbol powder
  8. Jalapeno pepper

Before we explain in detail the best substitutes for gochugaru, let us first discuss about this interesting ingredient gochugaru.

What Is Gochugaru?

Gochugaru Substitute

Gochugaru is a spice made from dried gochu pepper. It is also known as Korean chili flakes,

Korean hot pepper flakes, and Korean chili powder. It is red in color and has a mild to moderate spicy taste. It has a sweet and smoky taste. There are not many substitutes that you can replace it with but you still can consider the following list.

Gochujang

 

First on the best gochugaru substitute for kimchi list is gochujang. As can be inferred from its name, gochujang is made from the same ingredient as gochugaru, the gochu pepper.

Also known as the Korean Chili Pepper, gochu pepper is a mildly spicy, slender chili pepper that is often dried and crushed to be made into spices like gochugaru and gochujang.

The biggest difference between gochugaru and gochujang is the form, ingredients, and flavor. Gochujang is a thick paste made from gochu pepper, fermented soybeans, salt, and sticky rice.

It has a spicy, tangy, and umami flavor. On the other hand, gochugaru is Korean chili flakes. It has a smoky, spicy, and fruity flavor. It is often used to make kimchi, salads, stews, and other dishes.

When using gochujang to substitute for gochugaru in making kimchi, use half a teaspoon of gochujang for every 1 teaspoon of gochugaru.

Chipotle Powder

 

Chipotle Powder is a spice made from chipotle peppers. Chipotle peppers are simply just dried and smoked jalapeno peppers. Chipotle powder is one of the best gochugaru substitutes for kimchi because of its spicy, smoky, and earthy taste.

Chipotle powder is spicier than other chili powders, which would give kimchi an extra kick.

Aside from using it as a substitute for gochugaru for kimchi, chipotle powder is also used as a rub or marinade for meat dishes and roasted vegetables. It can also be used to spice up sauces.

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When using chipotle powder to substitute gochugaru in making kimchi, use a 1:1 ratio.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Peppers

Out of all those enumerated on the best gochugaru substitute for kimchi list, cayenne pepper has the closest appearance and texture to gochugaru.

On the Scoville meter, cayenne pepper has a rating of 30,000 to 50,000 heat units. On the other hand, gochu pepper is a measly 1,500 heat units. Hence, you can expect that your kimchi will be a lot spicier when you use cayenne pepper as a substitute.

When using cayenne pepper to substitute gochugaru in making kimchi, use ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper for every 1 teaspoon of gochugaru. Cayenne Pepper comes in two forms – whole and ground.

Paprika

Spanish Paprika

Paprika is a spice derived from several dried peppers from the Capsicum anuum family. Some of the peppers commonly used to make paprika are cayenne peppers, sweet peppers, Aleppo peppers, and hot chili peppers.

Generally, there are three varieties of paprika, namely:

  1. Regular or Basic Paprika,
  2. Hungarian Paprika
  3. Spanish Paprika or Pimenton.

Regular or Basic Paprika has a mild flavor. It is commonly used as a garnish for potato salad and deviled eggs. On the other hand, Hungarian Paprika, as its name suggests, is from Hungary.

It is the national spice of Hungary. There are eight kinds of Hungarian Paprika, each with different degrees of flavor and heat. Lastly, Spanish Paprika has three different kinds – mild, mildly spicy, and spicy.

Spanish Paprika has a sweet and smoky flavor.

Chile Pasilla

 

Next in the best gochugaru substitute for kimchi list is chile pasilla. Chile pasilla is dried chilaca pepper, which is also known as Mexican Chili Pepper.

Chile pasilla has a dark and wrinkled appearance. Thus, it is also known as Chile Negro. As a result, the color of kimchi might not be as red when you use chile pasilla as a substitute.

However, this pepper would be perfect to use when preparing kimchi for those who are a bit weak to heat. It only has a rating of 250 to 2500 heat units on the Scoville scale.  

Guajillo Powder

Guajillo Powder

Guajillo powder is made from dried guajillo chili. It is the most common and most popular chili pepper in Mexico. There are two primary varieties of guajillo chili, varying in size and spiciness.

The guajillo puya is the smaller and spicier variety. Meanwhile, the longer and wider guajillo are less spicy. Both variants have a rating of 2,500 to 5,000 units on the Scoville scale.

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Guajillo chilies are widely used in Mexican cuisine It is often used in salsas, marinades, butters, pastes, and spice rubs. It is also used to flavor meats like pork, beef, and fish.

When using guajillo powder to substitute gochugaru in kimchi, use three teaspoons of guajillo powder for every two teaspoons of gochugaru.

Chile de Arbol powder

 

Just like guajillo chili, chile de Arbol is a chili pepper from Mexico. Also known as rat’s tail chile and bird’s beak chile, chile de Arbol is small but terrible.

It has a rating of between 15,000 to 30,000 heat units on the Scoville scale. This is a good substitute for gochugaru in making kimchi for those who are really into spicy food.

When using chile de Arbol powder as a gochugaru substitute in kimchi, use a 1:1 ratio.

Jalapeno pepper

Jalapeno pepper

The last on the list is jalapeno peppers. These are medium-sized chile peppers known for their heat. There are two main varieties of jalapeno pepper – green and red Jalapeno peppers. The green jalapenos have a rating between 4,000 to 8,500 heat units.

On the other hand, the red jalapenos have a rating between 2,500 to 10,000 heat units. The red ones are hotter and sweeter as compared to the green ones. It is therefore recommended to use red jalapenos when making kimchi.

Gochugaru Substitute Related FAQs

Do I need gochugaru for kimchi?

Essentially, yes. Gochugaru is needed to make kimchi because the key feature of kimchi is its spiciness.

However, as enumerated above, if you do not have access to gochugaru, there are a lot of substitutes to choose from.

Can I use red pepper powder for kimchi?

Yes, red pepper powder such as regular chili powder, cayenne pepper, or paprika can be used as a substitute for gochugaru in making kimchi.

However, make sure that you use the right amount of ingredients so as to ensure that the heat is not too overpowering.

Can I use gochujang instead of gochugaru?

Yes. As earlier mentioned, gochujang can be used as a substitute for gochugaru in making kimchi.

Gochujang and gochugaru are made from the same main ingredient – gochu.

What are the health benefits of kimchi?

Kimchi is a very nutritious side dish. Since it is made from mostly vegetables, it packs a lot of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

It also contains minerals like iron, calcium, selenium, choline, and phosphorous. Since it is a fermented dish, it also has a lot of probiotics that greatly aid in digestion, treat the common cold, clear the skin, boost the immune system, and fight against certain types of cancer.

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Aside from the aforementioned benefits, kimchi is also great for those trying to lose weight. The typical serving of kimchi only has 23 calories. It is a perfect appetite quencher; hence, it’ll greatly help stop cravings.

Studies have also shown that it helps improve cholesterol levels in the body. It also promotes fat burn because of its probiotics. It is therefore a good side dish to include for those in a diet.

Is it okay to eat kimchi every day?

Yes, in fact, researchers suggest that at least one serving (100g) of kimchi should be consumed every day to take advantage of its health benefits.

What is the disadvantage of kimchi?

The disadvantage of kimchi are the following: 

  1. it is very spicy
  2. It has a pungent smell.

Eating kimchi every day, especially the moderately spicy kind, can lead to digestive problems. Some may experience uneasiness while defecating. Others may also experience acid reflux.

Another disadvantage is its smell. As it is a fermented product, kimchi has a certain smell that needs getting used to if you are not a native korean.

How do I make kimchi?

 

Kimchi-making is a family and community activity in Korea. The families and communities gather during kimchi-making season. The following are the steps to make kimchi:

  1. Wash your chosen vegetables. A wide array of vegetables can be made into kimchi but the most commonly used vegetable is cabbage. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will use cabbages.\
  2. Remove any wilted or discolored cabbage leaf.
  3. Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores.
  4. Cut the cabbage into bite-sized pieces and place it in a big bowl with cold water and salt.
  5. Turn over the cabbages after thirty (30) minutes to salt evenly Do this at least three times.
  6. Wash the cabbages at least three times with cold water.
  7. Drain the cabbages and set aside.
  8. Chop the other vegetables that you will include in the kimchi. Popular other inclusions in kimchi are carrots, scallions, radish, and leek.

Making the seasoning:

  1. Mix together the cold sweet rice porridge, fish sauce, gochugaru (or any of the substitutes mentioned above), minced onion, minced ginger, and crushed garlic.
  2. Add the vegetables and the seasoning together in a large bowl and mix by hand.
  3. Place the kimchi in a tight, air sealed container. Refrigerate.