Home Korean Ingredient GlossaryFlour & Starches Acorn Starch Powder in Korean Cooking (Dotorigaru)

Acorn Starch Powder in Korean Cooking (Dotorigaru)

by Emily
Acorn starch in a wooden bowl. The bag sits in the background.

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Have you ever watched a squirrel collect and bury acorns during the autumn months in preparation for winter and wondered, ‘do acorns taste good?’ I’m sure most, if not all, of us have at one point. While most may ask that question, almost none of us have actually gone out and tried an acorn–that is, unless you tried it when eating traditional Korean food. 

Probably one of the most uniquely Korean ingredients available on the market is acorn starch. Unique to the Korean culture, people use this starch to make one of the most historically significant dishes in South Korea known as ‘dotorimuk’ (도토리묵). Here, we will discuss the ingredient, known as ‘dotorigaru’ or ‘dotorimukgaru’ in Korean, in detail in preparation for making dotorimuk in the future! 

What Is Acorn Starch Powder?

Acorn starch powder is a popular Korean ingredient used to make specific traditional dishes in South Korea. While the origins of using dotorigaru are unknown, historians believe people started cooking with acorns in the mountainous areas of ancient Korea. 

To make acorn starch, you pass water through crushed acorns. As the water passes through these acorns, it extracts the starch which you then collect and dry. While this process seems simple, I do not recommend collecting acorns and making acorn starch at home. Acorns contain a high amount of tannins which are toxic when consumed in large amounts. 

Note: These days, South Korea is the only major producer of commercial acorn starch. While used in other cultural cooking, this ingredient is not produced on the same scale in other countries as in South Korea!

acorn starch in a wooden bowl. The bag of starch sits in the background.
Are You Interested in Cooking With This Ingredient?

Acorn Starch Powder in Korean Cuisine:

In the Korean language, acorn starch is known as ‘dotorigaru’ (도토리가루) or ‘dotorimukgaru’ (도토리묵가루). In English, the first term literally translates to ‘acorn powder.’ The second term translates to ‘acorn jelly powder.’ 

People use dotorigaru for specific purposes in South Korea. We list them below:

  • Dotorimuk (도토리묵): In English, ‘dotorimuk’ is known as ‘acorn jelly.’ This edible mild jelly is made from the starch of acorns. As I stated above, people originally started to make this dish in the mountainous regions of ancient Korea when the oaks dropped the acorns during the autumn months. Now, people enjoy this traditional dish throughout the year! 
  • Dotori Guksu (도토리국수): In English, ‘guksu’ is the Korean term meaning ‘noodles.’ You prepare this ‘dotori guksu’ dish by using noodles made from acorn flour or starch. Some people in Korea distinguish the noodles made of acorn flour and starch by referring to noodles made from acorn starch as ‘dotori naengmyeon’ ( 냉면 도토리) and noodles made from acorn flour as ‘dotori guksu (도토리국수).

Acorn Starch Powder Frequently Asked Questions:

Now that we learned about acorn starch powder, we want to answer some questions you may have about this ingredient! If we do not answer your question, feel free to leave a comment in the section below or email us at [email protected]

Where Can I Buy Acorn Starch?

Unfortunately, you cannot find this ingredient in your typical Western-style grocery store in the United States. Instead, shop for acorn starch at your local family-run Asian market or large Asian grocery chain. You can buy this ingredient online!

Where to Buy Korean Ingredients Online? 

Nowadays, there are many online options to choose from to order Korean food online. These websites are not limited to but include:

  • Amazon
  • H-mart
  • Hanpoom
  • Wooltari 

How Do I Properly Store This Ingredient?

Like other types of flours and starches, I recommend storing this ingredient in a dark, cool place away from direct sunlight. Store in places like a kitchen pantry or cabinet. 

How Long Does This Ingredient Last?

Generally, once opened, dotorigaru lasts in the pantry for 6 months. Always check the expiration date on the packaging as well!

Acorn Starch vs Acorn Flour: What Is the Difference?

While people may be tempted to use acorn starch and acorn flour interchangeably, these two terms refer to completely different ingredients!

To make acorn flour, you start by drying, shelling, grinding, and soaking the acorns to leach out the tannins (specifically for cold-leached acorn flour). Once leached, you dehydrate the acorns to make flour. 

On the other hand, as I stated above, you make acorn starch by passing water through crushed acorns. You collect starch that you extract through this process. Once collected and dried, you can use this to make the Korean foods I listed above!

A closeup shot of dotorigaru. You can see the fine powder of this ingredient.
People Use This Fine Powder to Make Deliciously Mild Acorn Jelly and Noodles!

We Hope You Enjoyed Learning About Acorn Starch Powder!

In the end, we hope you enjoyed learning about acorn starch powder! If so, let us know in the comment section! 

If you would like to read more about cooking, you can find further recipes on our blog. We listed some of our favorite Carving A Journey Korean recipes below! For reference, many recipes are influenced by our blended Korean and Southern heritage.

Korean Ingredient Articles: 

Further Carving A Journey Recipes:

If you have any questions or comments, you can also email us at [email protected].

And, finally, we would love to hear from you through our social media as well! You can follow us at @carvingajourney on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. I also started a vlog Youtube channel! Or, if you would like more articles like these, you can subscribe to our blog by joining our mailing list. Let us know if you try using this ingredient when cooking! Thank you so much for stopping by!

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