고추 – Gochu
Chili peppers are native to Latin and South America where they have been used culuinarily since possibly as early as 7500 BC.
It is strongly believed that chili peppers were introduced to Asia in the fifteen hundreds by Portuguese and Spanish traders, but there may be some evidence of an earlier introduction sometime in the 13th century. There are also some Chinese and Korean references that may refer to chili peppers being used in a paste as early as 850.
Regardless of when chili peppers were introduced to Korea, they have come to be one of the most widely used ingredients in Korean cuisine. They are used in soups, stews, stir fry dishes, marinades, sauces, salads, as garnish for many dishes, and of course in Kimchi.
The Korean red pepper or chili is usually less spicy than its Latin American cousin. Korean food uses both young green peppers as well as the ripe red ones. The red peppers are dried and ground into chili powder, or used fresh both for their flavor and for their color.
Green chili peppers are primarily used fresh for their flavor, and ability to add “heat” to most dishes.