Although Korean cuisine offers a host of great non-spicy dishes, it is famous for its fiery spiciness. But what is the secret to the spice? The spicy taste of many Korean foods largely comes down to one key ingredient: gochugaru (hot pepper flakes or red chili powder). Gochugaru is made by drying Korean hot peppers in the sun, de-seeding them and crushing them into flakes or powder depending on the need.

Korean hot pepper flakes (or fine powder) are usually a vibrant red, coarse in texture and fairly spicy in taste, with a hint of sweetness. How they rate on the spiciness meter can vary depending on the region of origin and its specific farming conditions.

Koreans select their hot pepper flakes carefully, and that's important, because it is possible to get unclean and unsafe materials in the flakes during the production process. Many health-conscious Koreans source their hot peppers directly from a farm they know personally, or purchase them from a reputable company that uses 100% Korean hot peppers.

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