On a recent trip to Costco, I found a large jar of Korean pepper flakes, gochugaru. What a lovely surprise! The flavor is sweetly peppery and a little fruity and since the seeds have been removed, it’s only moderately spicy.  I’d been using it in Korean recipes for years, but never really tried it for other cuisines, which is not like me. Gochugaru is fairly inexpensive, especially compared to Syria’s Aleppo pepper, or France’s Piment d’Espellete and as it happens, a terrific substitute for both.


Along with the pepper flakes, I picked up some chicken, herbs and olive oil and threw them all together for an overnight marinade. I may be in the minority, but I always add salt—especially if it’s a spice paste or an oil-based marinade. It permeates the meat gently and gives it a slightly brined texture.


The next day, I popped the chicken on the grill along with some corn and lemon halves  and served it with an herbed yogurt sauce.


2 tablespoons Korean pepper flakes (gochugaru) or Aleppo pepper

8 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste

1 tablespoon kosher salt (Diamond crystal), plus more

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

One whole chicken, halved

1 cup whole milk Greek-style yogurt

1 tablespoon capers, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 teaspoon chopped oregano

1 lemon or lime, halved

  1. In a small bowl, combine the pepper flakes with 3/4 of the garlic cloves, the salt, pepper, coriander and ¼ cup of the oil. Rub the mixture all over the chicken, set in a baking dish and add the lemon halves. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  2.  In another small bowl, combine the yogurt with the capers,chives, oregano and remaining garlic. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Light a grill and oil the grates. Grill over moderately high flame for about 35 minutes, turning occasionally, until lightly charred in spots and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh nearest the joint registers 165°.
  4. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces. Serve with the yogurt sauce.


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