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30 Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients


Learn about the most used Korean cooking ingredients!

A comprehensive list of 30 essential Korean cooking ingredients - Korean chili powder, Korean chili paste, Korean soybean paste and so much more! | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Today I’m sharing 30 essential Korean cooking ingredients.

This type of article isn’t as glamorous as some other recipes I share here, nonetheless, I thought it would be great to share my list to enhance your Korean cooking knowledge and help you update your pantry if necessary. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just a friendly warning that this is a long article. If you want to look up a particular ingredient, just press Ctrl +F (or Command +F for mac) and enter the keyword you want to search. With these Korean ingredients, I hope you have a great time trying out my recipes!

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients

Essential Ingredients – Dried

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean Chili Powder (Gochugaru) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean chili powder / Hot pepper flakes (Gochugaru: ๊ณ ์ถ”๊ฐ€๋ฃจ) – Most Korean spiciness comes from this magic powder called gochugaru. It is essentially made with dried Korean red chilies. It mainly comes in two different formats – fine and coarse. Fine chili powder is mostly used when making gochujang and coarse chili powder covers the rest of Korean cooking needs.

So I buy coarse chili powder more frequently and store it in my fridge as it can get mouldy if you don’t store it well (e.g. storing it at room temperature). If your gochugaru starts hardening, you can use the food processor to separate it again. Just a few seconds of pulse will fix it. Read more about it from my other post – Gochugaru.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Roasted sesame seeds (Bokken chamggae) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Roasted sesame seeds (Bokken chamggae: ๋ณถ์€ ์ฐธ๊นจ) – Roasted sesame seeds are usually used in a dish as a garnish. It adds a nutty warm flavor and nice crunchy texture to the dish. Typically it is used in Korean vegetable side dishes (Namul, ๋‚˜๋ฌผ) and also in dipping sauces. I use both Korean (left) and Japanese (right) brand depending on the sesame seeds color I need at the time.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean Black Pepper | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Ground black pepper (Huchu:ํ›„์ถ”) – Ground black pepper is typically used when marinating BBQ meat. It helps get rid of the unique meat smell. I also love shaking this in to my Korean rice cake soup (Ddeok Guk, ๋–ก๊ตญ). It adds a nice aroma and mild spice kick to this bland soup. I just buy a bottle of whole black pepper (non-Korean) brand and ground it as I need it. For those of you who want to try Korean brand black pepper, the above picture on the right is one of them. Probably the most popular one.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean fine salt | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Salt (Sogum: ์†Œ๊ธˆ) – Salt is essential in any type of cooking but I thought I would show what I use. For my general cooking needs, I’ve been using the above Guun Sogum (๊ตฌ์šด์†Œ๊ธˆ: Roasted solar salt) for a few years. I really like this salt. I would consider it as a mild salt. The particles are very fine and it’s not too salty or bitter or sour. It’s also Kosher certified.

According to the manufacturer, “Korean Solar Salt is created by evaporation of sea water by wind and the sun. Because it contains so many healthy minerals, it is not too salty or sour so brings out the natural flavor of the dish. This salt is produced at “The Jewel of Shinan Island”, which is classified as an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve area so its natural quality is supposedly better than any others.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Rock salt | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Though, when I make Kimchi or other pickled Korean dishes, I use rock salt (non-Korean brand). I was first introduced to this rock salt by my Brazilian friend. She used it when she makes Brazilian style steaks, which were marvelous. When I had some leftover rock salt after making these steaks, I tried them in some Kimchi and cucumber salad recipes and it worked great.

Basically when you make Kimchi or other pickled dishes, you need to use coarse salt rather than fine salt. I found that this rock salt is slightly larger than the typical Korean salt that are used in Kimchi. However I think this rock salt is more versatile for my general cooking needs and that’s why I’m using it. Check Korean salt for Kimchi (or pickle) if you’re looking for a Korean branded coarse salt (๊ตต์€ ์†Œ๊ธˆ).

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean sugar | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Sugar (Sultang: ์„คํƒ•) – My husband thinks Koreans use sugar a lot in their main dishs. Do you think so too? I didn’t realise that until he pointed it out a very long time ago. In my defence, Koreans use sauces that are too strong on their own (soy sauce – salty, gochujang – spicy etc), so you need to balance it by adding something sweet (e.g. sugar) in the cooking. Well, that’s my theory anyway.

Typically, there are three different kinds of sugar – white sugar, yellow sugar and dark brown sugar in Korea. Some Koreans prefer using liquid forms of sugar (e.g. rice syrup or corn syrup or oligosaccharides) instead of powder forms of sugar. When I use powder forms of sugar, I use raw sugar 95% of the time as it’s the least processed. I only use white sugar (e.g. in a radish pickle) and dark brown sugar (e.g. in marinating a soy based BBQ meat) when the color of the food is important (e.g. for food photography or party food)

Essential Ingredients – Liquid

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean soy sauce | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Soy sauce (Ganjang: ๊ฐ„์žฅ) – There are a few different kinds of soy sauce available in Korea. Each of those have a different name based on the ingredients used and/or the method of brewing. I will cover that in more detail in a separate post some other time as it can be lengthy.

For my day to day cooking needs (e.g. stir fry, braising etc), I use 100% naturally brewed soy sauce – Kikoman brand. If you’re looking to buy a Korean brand of this kind, Yangjo Ganjang (์–‘์กฐ๊ฐ„์žฅ) is the name you should be looking for. For soup and stew, I use soy sauce that’s made for soup. It’s saltier than other kinds of soy sauce but the color is lighter. It can be also be used as an alternative to salt and it adds deeper umami.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean rice wine | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Rice wine/cooking wine (Mirim: ๋ฏธ๋ฆผ) – I use rice wine particularly when marinating meat for a BBQ. It gets rid of the meat smell and it’s also known to add a slightly sweet note to the main dish. Japanese Mirin (๋ฏธ๋ฆฐ) does the same job. You can read more about cooking wine from my other post.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean fish sauce | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean fish sauce (Aecjeot: ์•ก์ “) – Korean fish sauce is typically used in varieties of Kimchi to accelerate the fermentation process. In some occasions, it is also used in Korean side dishes and soup/stew. There are two main varieties of Korean fish sauce – anchovy sauce (Mulchi Aecjeot) and sand lance sauce (Kkanari Aecjeot). I’ve only used anchovy sauce so far. Some people also commented on this post that it cannot be substituted with Thai/Vietnamese fish sauce.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean liquid sweetener | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean malt syrup/rice syrup/corn syrup (Mulyeot: ๋ฌผ์—ฟ) – These are a liquid form of sweetener. Koreans use it a lot to give food a sweet flavor but also to give a shiny look. I used to use it a lot when I was living in Korea, but I don’t use it anymore as I think it’s not a healthy ingredient. If I want to give a sweet flavor and shiny look, I use honey or 100% pure maple syrup depending on the recipe instead.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Sesame Oil | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Sesame oil (Chamgireum: ์ฐธ๊ธฐ๋ฆ„) – Sesame oil is widely used in many Korean side dishes, rice dishes, Korean BBQ and in dipping sauce as a finishing touch ingredient.  It adds a nutty aroma and savoury flavor. I typically use Korean brand sesame oil but I know some people swear by Kadoya brand.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean wild sesame oil | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Perilla oil (Dulgireum: ๋“ค๊ธฐ๋ฆ„)Perilla oil is made from perilla seeds (by cold-pressing) and it is also used in some Korean vegetable side dishes. Perilla oil is known for its highly nutritious ingredients but it has a lot shorter shelf life (under 6 months) than sesame oil (6 months to 2 years).

Essential Ingredients – Paste

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean chili paste (Gochujang) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean chili paste/Hot pepper paste (Gochujang: ๊ณ ์ถ”์žฅ) – Does it need further explanation?  Gochujang is probably the most famous Korean condiment. It goes in side dishes, soup & stew, main dishes, marinade etc. It is made from fine Korean chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. While it’s spicy, it also has a very subtle sweet note.

Nowadays, there are various versions of gochujang (ie. extra spicy gochujang, less spicy gochujang and beef seasoned gochujang etc), however my recipes are based on the standard version of gochujang. You can read more about gochujang from my other post.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean soybean paste (Doenjang) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Soybean paste (Doenjang: ๋œ์žฅ)Korean soybean paste is often compared with Japanese miso paste. It is made with fermented soybeans over a period of time. It has natural pungent smell and flavor. It is mainly used in soup & stew but it can also be used as a sauce when making side dishes.

As with gochujang, there are various versions of soybean paste available (e.g. soybean paste mixed with seafood extract) however my recipes are based on the standard version of soybean paste.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean Spicy Dipping Sauce (Ssamjang) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean spicy dipping sauce (Ssamjang: ์Œˆ์žฅ)Korean spicy dipping sauce is most commonly accompanied with grilled Korean BBQ. It can be easily made at home using soybean paste, chili paste, garlic, onion, sesame oil etc. Check out my fancier version of this dipping sauce recipe if you want to make it from scratch.

As with chili paste (Gochujang) and soybean paste (Doenjang), there are various versions of spicy dipping sauce available. You can read more about spicy dipping sauce from my other post.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean Black Bean Paste (Chunjang) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean black bean paste sauce (Chunjang: ์ถ˜์žฅ)Korean black bean paste sauce is mainly used when making Jajangmyeon or Jajangbap. While there are powder versions available, I prefer using the paste version as it’s tastier and has deeper umami.

In most cases, this black bean paste sauce needs further cooking before it can be used as it has a bitter taste on its own. If you follow my Jajangmyeon recipe, the instruction is included there.

Essential Ingredients – Grains and Noodles

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean rice | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Short grain white rice (Ssal: ์Œ€) – Short grain white rice is a typical Korean rice species. Once cooked, the rice grains sticks to each other. It has a slightly shiny look and slightly sweet taste. Japanese sushi rice is also short grain rice and this can be used alternatively.

At present, I’m using Australian brand medium grain white rice simply because this is a cheaper alternative to Korean rice or Japanese rice. Though I find this quite inferior to Korean or Japanese rice.  You may also want to read my other post, how to cook perfect Korean steamed rice.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean glass noodles (Dangmyeon) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Sweet potato noodles /Korean glass noodles (Dangmyeon: ๋‹น๋ฉด)Sweet potato noodles are clear dried noodles made with sweet potato starch. They are most commonly used in Korean mixed noodles and vegetables (Japchae). The noodles come in large dried bundles and they are hard to separate. However, there is also a pre-cut version that are really easy to use as well. So look out for those if you can.

To cook, you soak them in warm water for several minutes or boil depending on the recipe. They are  similar to cellophane noodles but have a firmer and more resilient texture.

Essential Ingredients – Vegetables

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Napa cabbage (Baechu) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Napa cabbage/ Chinese cabbage/ Wombok (Baechu: ๋ฐฐ์ถ”)Napa cabbage is most commonly used when making Kimchi, which means it is a VERY important ingredient. Napa cabbage is also used in a sautรฉed side dish, in napa cabbage soup (Baechuguk) and it can also be used as a wrap (Ssam, ์Œˆ).

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean perilla leaves (Gganip) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Perilla leaves (Gganip: ๊นป์žŽ)Perilla leaves are used in a pickled side dish, in stir fry and as a wrap. They are part of the mint family and have a strong aroma. They are similar to Japanese shiso, but they are known to have a different flavor and shape.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Garlic (Manul) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Garlic (Manul: ๋งˆ๋Š˜) – Unless it’s a dessert dish or plain steamed rice, you should expect to add some garlic in practically every Korean dish – soup, stew, side dishes, main dishes. I normally buy a glass bottle of minced garlic (250g) from a Korean grocery store and it usually lasts me about 2 to 3 months.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Ginger (Saenggang) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Ginger (Saenggang: ์ƒ๊ฐ•) – Ginger is also another vegetable commonly used along side garlic. (Though it’s less frequently used than garlic). Ginger is typically used in marinade sauce, in Kimchi or in some Korean tea.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Green onion (Pa) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Green onion/scallion/shallots/spring onion (Pa: ํŒŒ) – Green onion is used as a side vegetable in many type of kimchi, also as a main ingredient in pancakes and salad. It is also used in making broth and also as a garnish on top of food. [Don’t forget to check out my tips on how to store green onions for a long time too. (I mean like 5 to 6 weeks! & No planting is involved!)]

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean radish | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean radish/Daikon radish/White radish (Mu :๋ฌด)Korean radish is used when making cubed radish Kimchi, white radish pickles or in various soups and stews. While it is a variety of Daikon radish, Korean radish tends to be shorter and rounder than typical Daikon radish. It also has some shades of green. If I can’t get Korean radish, I just use daikon radish instead (even this can be very challenging to find where I live!). If you’re interested, you can read my other post on How to pick a fresh and delicious white radish.

Essential Ingredients – From the sea

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Sea kelp | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Sea kelp (Dashima: ๋‹ค์‹œ๋งˆ)Sea kelp (also known as Kombu) is mainly used when making stock (Korean style dashi). You buy dried sea kelp and soak it in a bowl of water for 1 hour (or more) to use. In this case, you’re mainly using the water that’s been sitting with the sea kelp not the sea kelp itself. You can also use sea kelp when making deep fried sea kelp side dish.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean brown seaweed | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Sea mustard (Miyeok: ๋ฏธ์—ญ)Sea mustard (also known as Wakame) is mainly used in Korean seaweed soup (aka Korean birthday soup). You buy dried seaweed and soak it in a bowl of water for 10-15 mins then it will swell and is ready for use. You can also buy fresh sea mustard (Mul miyeok, ๋ฌผ๋ฏธ์—ญ) in Korea and this is often used when making side dishes.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Dried anchovy | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Dried anchovy (Marun Myeolchi: ๋งˆ๋ฅธ ๋ฉธ์น˜)Large dried anchovy is used when making stock (Korean style dashi). Small to medium dried anchovy is used when making braised or stir fried Korean side dishes.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean seaweed | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Seaweed (Gim: ๊น€)Non-seasoned seaweed is most commonly used when making Kimbap (๊น€๋ฐฅ, Korean rice rolls) or as a garnish in rice cake soup. Seasoned seaweed is used as a side dish. Slightly salty and sesame oil brushed seaweed is particularly popular with kids. It can also be used as a garnish on stir fried rice. Some people use it as a drink snack (with beer).

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean fish cakes | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean fish cakes (Eomuk: ์–ด๋ฌต) – Korean fish cakes are commonly used in stir fry dishes or in soup. They are available in a few different shapes (e.g. square, rectangle, round, bar etc). You can also make it at home from scratch using my recipes. Read more about Korean fish cakes from my other post.

Essential Ingredients – Meat

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean Pork Belly (Samgyeopsal) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean pork belly (Samgyeopsal: ์‚ผ๊ฒน์‚ด) – Koreans love Samgyeopsal. Samgyeop means three layer so Samgyeopsal means three layered meat. This meat is typically used on a BBQ. It is popular in both the non-marinated and marinated way.

Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients: Korean prime beef cuts | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Sirloin (Deungshim:๋“ฑ์‹ฌ)  or Tenderloin (Anshim: ์•ˆ์‹ฌ) – Beef sirloin or tenderloin is commonly used when making Bulgogi (Korean marinated BBQ beef, ๋ถˆ๊ณ ๊ธฐ), Miyeok-guk (Korean seaweed soup, ๋ฏธ์—ญ๊ตญ) and  Japchae (Korean glass noodles, ์žก์ฑ„).

Filed under: Ingredients

Written by: Sue

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Welcome to my Korean kitchen! Iโ€™m so happy that you're here. I am Sue, the creator behind My Korean Kitchen (since 2006). I love good food and simplifying recipes. Here you will find my best and family approved recipes. Thanks for stopping by!


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152 thoughts on “30 Essential Korean Cooking Ingredients”

  1. I am 69 and became a fan of Korean food due to my granddaughter getting me into KPop, I know it is a strange way to get into Korean food but watching BTS Run, I got interested. My stomach cannot tolerate everyday chili, but I can get along very well with gochujang. I love the flavours and have tried making Kimchi, Korean fried chicken and gimbap.

  2. I was lucky enough to have a Korean roommate who loved cooking. She quickly convinced me that Korean food is some of the best in the world. I have no idea why it havenโ€™t gone full blown mainstream!
    There is a depth of flavor in Korean food that I find difficult to achieve in my attempts to recreate some of the dishes I loved. Unfortunately my friend and I fell out of contact so I couldnโ€™t ask her. I looked online and asked around and one person told me I was missing molasses. Iโ€™ve never seen molasses in any Korean recipes though the flavor would make sense…
    So I ask you: is molasses a common ingredient? Is it used as a replacement of a sauce thatโ€™s hard to find?

    • Brown (and white sugar depending on the dish) with some water – or alternative molasses or corn syrup if you rather – are very common in Korean dishes particularly when accenting a protein. It assists to give the depth of “sweet/spicy” that a lot of Korean dishes have. I can’t speak to what your dishes might be missing but this definitely seems like a possibility.

      A great example of something like this is the very popular gochujang dipping sauce which can be easily made with just a few ingredients (varying recipes obviously but a basic one that works in a pinch at home is) of: gochujang, molasses (sugar, corn syrup, have even seen people use maple syrup here!), and some water.

  3. I lived in Seoul from just after the 1988 Olympics until about 1992. One of my favorite dishes was tuin-jan-chige (Check spelling!). This was a hot and spicy soup/stew with all sorts of very flavorful veggies. I have never seen it in the local Korean restaurants here (San Francisco Bay Peninsula.) I also loved the jook porridge dishes for lunch. Also man-du and man-du jook.

  4. Thank you so much for this info!! I go to HMart and it gets very confusing but with your photos I’ll be a happy shopper. Again thank you.

  5. Hello!
    First Iโ€™d like to thank you for sharing all those recipes and not just that, but a huge valuable part of your lovely culture. Korean cuisine is so cheerful and colorful (the taste follows ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and you give people the oportunity to learn some of it. Iโ€™m from Madagascar and I cook a lot and for a couple of months now, Iโ€™ve been eager to learn more about Korean food and cuisine, now I can try on. Hope itโ€™ll turn out well ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks again for sharing all these, because cuisine and food are somehow very precious to me!
    Keep up the nice share and take good care of yourself and lovedones.

  6. When I was stationed in South Korea the girls that worked in the NCO club would bring in Kimchi for there lunch. I tasted it and fell in love with it. It was spicier then the Kimchi here in the USA. I still eat it whenever I get a chance.

  7. Hello! I am researching how to make my own Shilgochu and am not finding much help in doing so. I have read that peppers are dried then extruded into the fine strings but I would really like to know the process if you can help. Thanks so much!

  8. I’ve been on your email list and following your posts for a while and I just want to say I love them! Will be experimenting with more dishes this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hi sue
    I would just like to say wow your website is amazing I have only just started with Korean recipes but I wish I had tried these years ago I think I’ve tried a couple of recipes the one I tried not long ago was from a website called simply cook and the one that arrived was beautiful it was called bokkeumbap and I’ve been trying to get some of the ingredients separately with no luck until you came along and I got the breakdown from your website so thank you very much keep up the amazing recipes

    • Absolutely! They are two different plants producing two different end products.

      “Cultural mistake” was more of a translation error from the “olden days” than any other thing.

      But I noticed that more people are using the correct terminology nowadays, which is a good thing. Thanks for including the extra information. I’m sure some of my readers will appreciate it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I love your site….and recipes! Especially helpful is the explanation, and the 30 Korean ingredients needed. Thank you so much….I’ve been to Korea many times and fell in love with the food and the people. I would love to go back!

  11. I am re-creating my own Korean BBQ at home and needed some guidance as to what to have in my pantry. Iโ€™m making a lot of side dishes so knowing what essentials to have is key, as most of those dishes have almost the same ingredients. Thank you so much!

  12. Thanks for explaining some of ingredients one question which asian suture uses bean thread noodles instead of sweet pot glass is it Thai and how do swt pot compare to the bean

  13. Why do Korean recipes ask for Korean rice or corn syrup? I was following a recipe I found in a book called KoreaTown and in the recipe for Daeji Kalbi it askes for Korean rice or corn syrup.

  14. Thank you for this! I’m a Filipina and I live in the Philippines. Growing up, I have always been fascinated by Korean cuisine. I love everything about it, the diversity of each ingredient, tradition, flavors and a lot more. I’m so glad I found your website, this will help me throughout my Korean cooking journey.
    Thanks a lot. Love from PH.

  15. Thank you for your knowledge of Korean food and recipes โค๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ I want to try some of your recipes. From SF, Californiaโค๏ธ

  16. I am trying to find uses for Soybean dipping paste I’ve got this in my pantry I can’t remember why I bought it Thanks Sharon

  17. Thank for this! ๊ฐ์‚ฌํ•ฉ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค! I currently live in Korea and would like to challenge myself, by making Korean food. Your ingredients list is a big help to me. I look forward to trying out your recipes!

    • When I was stationed in South Korea the girls that worked in the NCO club would bring in Kimchi for there lunch. I tasted it and fell in love with it. It was spicier then the Kimchi here in the USA. I still eat it whenever I get a chance.

  18. One of the best thing about Korean food is it’s diversity.
    There are so many exquisite ingredients which trigger taste buds one never knew they had.

    But Korean ingredients, especially organic ones, are very hard to find.
    Thankfully, I found SFMart, an online authentic Korean grocery store.
    Not only do they have a wide variety of Korean products, but everything is sold on wholesale rates.

    For people wanting help in finding the store, I’ll link their website to the name.

  19. I just found you today. Thank you for your recipes. I happen to have a cucumber, radish and a Bosc pear so I made a cucumber salad using your recipe but modified it a bit. I can’t eat very hot dish — makes my lips burn and peel off but I used a tsp of Korean sweet chili pepper. I cut the cucumber and the radish per your instruction and then shredded a 1/4 pear into the mixture, adding 1 tsp of fish sauce, 1 tsp of salt, tsp chili powder and minced ginger. It was tasty and refreshing and went well with grilled salmon. I didn’t like the fish sauce at first but somehow the pear took care of the smell because it wasn’t there when it was time to eat. I also like your ingredients list. Thank you.

  20. Uhhhhhh…your website is making me hungry! My wife and I love Korean food and can’t wait to try some of your recipes! Thanks so much!

  21. Question:: during the late 60’s I was stationed in Korea ,the house boy often invited some of the members of my unit out for dinner at his home being away from home and in a foreign country we were obligated to attend, where we were treated to Korean cuisine my favorite was Om rice ,,since then I have made several different attempts to duplicate the Bulgogi that was served with it I have the recipe for the marinade but can’t find the conical cooker used to cook the bulging. Can you help me plz??????

  22. Hi Sue,
    I love Korean food after becoming interested in kdrama/kpop. I had to try the food I saw people eating on screen. Can you recommend a good brand of Kimchi (with a picture of brand – I can’t read Hangul) to buy at Hanaro mart or places like that in Brisbane area? We live in Ipswich. I will try to make my own one day but no time and space for it at the moment.
    Thank you! Love your website.

    Kind Regards,


  23. What a very interesting article, thank you! I have used gochujang paste before in a spicy chicken recipe. It is one of our favourite dinners but I am keen to try some of your recipes and these products, I feel more confident to do so. Thanks again for a great roundup of information. ๐Ÿ˜

  24. Thank you so much for sharing your delicious recipes and tips!!! My family is in Iove with korean food, and I have tried some of your recipes, they are so well explained and easy to follow.

  25. So I bought some gochugaru and of course it only came in a 1 pound package at my local Asian market. I put a few glass jars of it in the fridge but I know we won’t use it all for a long time. Can I vaccum pack the bulk of it and put it in the freezer? Would that keep it from going bad?

    • Yes, that’s a great idea. Many Koreans keep it in the freezer if they’re not going to use it for a long time. Just pulse it in the food processor for a minute or two when you need to use it again. Hope this helps!

  26. ์ข‹์€ ์ผ-๋งค์šฐ ์œ ์ตํ•˜๊ณ  ๋งค์šฐ ํฌ๊ด„์ ์ž…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค!

    ์ด์šฉ์‹ (David Lee Satterfield)

  27. I have possibly a silly question. I have gochujang but I dont have gochugaru. Is it possible to use gochujang inplace of gochugaru in some recipes?

    • That would depend on the recipes, but in most cases, no, gochujang isn’t a good substitute for gochugaru.
      Depending on the recipe, regular chili flakes or cayenne pepper powder in modest amount, could be better substitutes but obviously these won’t give you quite the same taste as gochugaru.

  28. Hello Sue,
    My name is Shannon and I just recently became interested in Korean dishes as well as cooking. But I’m curious as to what peppers are being used as garnish at times. Some are red, while others are green. And also the type of leafy greens that are commonly used and can they be grown?

  29. I just got interested in Korean food! I love the spices And vegetables. Iโ€™m not generally into stir frying but I think itโ€™s because the foods are not seasoned right or over cooked! Iโ€™m looking forward to exploring Korean dishes!

  30. Hi Miss Sue my name is Nafas. Thank you for this useful post. I love to try Korean food but I can’t because in my country there are no more ingredients needed for Korean food but thank you anyway. I’m trying to learn Korean so I’m learning the names of the foods.

  31. Hi Sue I saw a recipe asking for Chamchiaek or Korean tuna sauce would you know what that is? I’m not familiar. I mostly have heard of the common ones. Thanks

    • I had the same question for a braised salmon recipe I found on YouTube. I asked my dad and it seems to be a fish sauce. I just used a Vietnamese fish sauce in place of it since it also gives off an umami flavor.

  32. Hello, Sue!

    I would like to know the name of the Garlic, pictured in your 30 essential Korean cooking ingredients. Can I purchase it on Amazon?

    • Hi Gloria, the garlic in the picture is just a regular pre-minced garlic. You could buy any brands. I live in Australia and it is made by a local Korean company here. I don’t think they sell it via Amazon.

  33. This was really helpful and useful. I am trying to find any Korean ingredients in the area but sadly, I cannot find that much ingredients.

  34. this is a GREAT post — never think that *unglamorous* = *unimportant*! i was both surprised and pleased to discover that i have many of these ingredients already. one that i did not see mentioned (because it’s not Korean) but would like to read more about is date syrup aka silan — mine is from Date Lady in California: https://ilovedatelady.com/products/california-date-syrup?variant=7002683015214. it’s completely natural and i think it would be a great substitute for honey, corn syrup, or other manufactured sweeteners. what do you think, Sue?

    • Thanks, Hollis! I’ve never used silan before so I can’t make any comment on it. (In fact, this is my first time hearing about it.)
      But I can tell you my recent attempt in using coconut sugar as a substitute for regular sugar. In essence, I did not like it at all. The flavor profile was quite different and I found that it was quite unsuitable for most of my cooking needs.

      At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. But remember, some ingredients just don’t shine through no matter how healthy it might be. That’s my two cents. ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Honey or maple syrup are probably less healthy than rice syrup or even normal(not high fructose) corn syrup. Honey and maple syrup contain fructose, while rice syrup and normal corn syrup do not(they’re pure glucose). Small amounts of fructose(which also makes up half of normal table sugar) are probably fine but large amounts cause metabolic changes in the body.

  36. I found your website by accident & glad I found it. i try your sundubu jjigae recipe. I like try more of Korean recipe. My question is, can I substitute dried anchovy with japanese dashi? Since it’s really hard to find a dried anchovy in Jakarta (Indonesia). Will the taste be different? Thank you very much.

      • Hi miss sue,, i’m saba massa, i interesting about your recipe, and i want to know about the korean menu for breakfast, lunch n dinner for a week. Thanks

  37. Sue, ever since I lived in South Korea for a year as a teen (my father was US Army) I have been absolutely in love with Korean food. I’ve always wanted to cook it myself and your site is helping me realize my dream. It’s so helpful and clearly presented. Thank you so much!

  38. You may think it’s not as glamorous, but this is definitely the most useful post! I really needed this info as I am completely new to Korean food – thanks!

  39. Hi,

    May I know what is the difference in practical use for sesame oil and wild sesame oil (perilla) since the former is used in most side dishes which I suppose japchae is included?

    • Sesame oil is more practical since it can be used in more dishes. You can even substitute it for wild sesame oil even though the taste is quite different. But not so much vice versa.

    • Hi Sue…whereabouts in Aussie are you. I am hoping to purchase various spices etc to take back to the Cook Islands but really have no idea where to buy them.
      We eat dominantly asian style but have a preference for Korean. (Planning a trip to.South Korea end of next year).
      Look forward to hearing from you.

        • Hi Sue….when I am not in the Cook Islands my other home is also Brisbane. I will check out Hanaro when I am back in September as I am flying out on Saturday.
          I will definately keep following your blog.

  40. Sue
    i just discovered your website and recently tried out the recipe to make kim chi with “mu.” i love it. kept the turnip mixture out at room temp and even left the jar in the sun for a couple of days in order to ferment more.
    thanks for reviewing the essential 30 ingredients here. i will continue to consult w/ your website as i get into more and more ingredients. “duk” is another ingredient i love (mochi rice slices for soup)

  41. Hey sue, em may I ask something ? I’m a beginner in cooking korean dishes but to me I have difficulty on using recipes that involves rice wine or any other ingredients that I cannot use because I’m a muslim and a few ingredients especially the ones with alcohol are prohibited to be use by muslims such as myself. So are they any other alternative that I can use ? Thank you.

  42. I have started cooking Korean dishes through actually watching a TV Show called Running Man and the food looks amazing. Your recipes are an inspiration and I have managed to find an excellent Korean Supermarket in London that sells nearly everything listed! I even bought a dolsot bowl as per your recommendation for the kimchi jjigae and it was amazing!

    Thank you so much for these recipes, they have all tasted amazing so far and it has been the cornerstone of my new Korean cooking adventure

      • I know that New Malden that’s just on the outskirts of London is basically Korea town and is one of the largest expatriate communities of South Koreans in Europe, (I used live right next to it in Kingston) you’ll find Korean supermarkets there and pretty much anything Korean you could want there. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope this helps!

  43. Hi sue

    Thanks for japchae receipe..i have a queastion. Is it ok if i’m not using rice wine..how about the taste if not used that..is it still good ?

    Cause i don’t want to used rice wine

    Thanks for the information.


    • Hi Nina, I would think the taste is still good if you decide to omit it. I always use rice wine (or other types of alcohol e.g. leftover wine, soju or sake) when I cook meat. This is to reduce / remove the unique meat smell. Most Koreans uses it.

      Alternatively, some of my readers who can’t consume alcohol told me in the past that substituting with rice vinegar, sugar and water solution works well too. (I just don’t know the ratio.) Hope this helps!

  44. This is brilliant, I found a local Korean store and for the first time was able to buy the correct ingredients for recipes I’ve always wanted to make properly but never knew what the translations were. Ie. soybean paste and chilli based on your translation and pictures. The Korean supermarket also translated their products into English, so now I will definitely be making more. We’ve been eating Korean everynight now for a week, can’t get enough. My hubby was feeling a little ill last week so I looked up recipe with garlic and chilli. Saw Beef doenjang and he literally sweat the cold out, he felt so much better that he has even taken to cooking it (each night a little variation on the last). Love, love, love. Thanks so much for sharing.

  45. I have a problem with all the different types of soy sauce in the supermarkets. I want to make a dipping soy sauce for the table but am not sure what to add to it. If I just use plain soy sauce it is too strong so I usually add a bit of sesame oil. Can you tell me what the type of soy sauce I should be using and how do I dilute it so it tastes like the Korean restaurant ones?
    Thank you for you blog, I find it extremely interesting and useful.


  46. I have a recipe for Korean style rice bowl, using minced pork and it says 1/2 tblspoons of chilli sauce. Does this mean a spivey chilli sauce or a sweet one? Many thanks

    • Is this my recipe? I always write gochujang next to Korean chili paste / sauce. I can’t speak for other recipe author, but if it’s an authentic Korean recipe, it’s most likely be gochujang (spicy chili sauce).

  47. Thank you so much for your recipes and your warm welcoming manner. Between you and the Maangchi YouTube site I have learned to make all sorts of Korean dishes which includes kimchi and makgeolli. Still working on the makgeolli. The only changes that I have made when I cook depending on the recipe is to replace sugar with fruit, especially when I make kimchi. Anyway, keep up the go work. Fighting!!!!!

    • Thanks, Milagros! Great to hear you find my website useful! I’ve got to make my own Makgeolli as well, but we don’t drink much here. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, thanks for your encouragement!

  48. Thank you so much for this post. I recently moved to Korea and was nervous about grocery shopping and what to buy to get my kitchen started. This post has been a huge help and a great starting point

    • Hi Treva, I don’t have the tutorial. I don’t think I will be able to cut the beef paper thin either unless I buy the slicing machine that is used at a butcher. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • It’s easier to slice meat after putting it in the freezer long enough so that it’s a bit firmer. The slices won’t be very pretty, but maybe it’ll be good enough.

  49. Thank you Sui for this wonderful exhibition. I am in love with these foods triggered by the ways it is being prepared in various Korean films. It could have been good if the foods are prepared in my country and the ingredients made available. I would love to grow sesmae, ginsing and other health related herbs for my use. I will appreciate your news letters.
    Thank you.



    • Hi Joseph, Where are you originally from? Google is always a good place to start if you’re after a specific recipe and wants to find out more about specific ingredients. ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. SUE, Thanks for sharing your tips. Great resource for me because I only know the basics. Love the flavors of Korean food! Sylvieann

  51. Hi, i’m gonna try making gochujang but could’t find malt powder anywhere here. What can i subs for that?

    • First of all, I haven’t made gochujang myself yet so I can’t give you a conclusive answer to your question. However, I don’t think it can be substituted with other ingredients. (I could be wrong.) If you’re following a particular recipe, you really should ask that author for it.

  52. Thank your this great compilation!
    Korean black bean paste sauce (Chunjang) could be replace for Tian Mian Jiang or bean paste in Jajangmyeon recipe? Are the same thing?

    Kind regards from Spain

  53. This is a great article with a lot of useful information. However, I feel it is important to correct one small item. Green onions are not shallots. Shallots are a small bulb much like an onion, but with a yellow/Brown skin and a red and white flesh. Shallots, not to be confused with scallions, can be found near the fresh garlic and onions in your local store.

  54. Hi Sue,

    Do you have any suggestions on how to find raw sugar or a substitute? At the local store they suggested rock sugar but it comes in a block and does not seem like a good option.

    Thanks, Scott

    • Hi Scott, where do you live? You can buy raw sugar from a regular grocery store like Coles or Woolworth here in Australia. It’s very easy to find. Perhaps you could try a specialty health food store? Another name for raw sugar is unrefined sugar. You can also purchase it from Amazon. http://amzn.to/1Rvztpa Hope this helps!

    • Hi Yvonne, I use rice vinegar (Japanese brand) in most of my cooking these days. I used to use white vinegar or apple vinegar (both non-Korean brands) but I prefer using rice vinegar now. It’s less acidic and it’s naturally sweet, so I like it. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I still do use white vinegar or apple vinegar time to time (when my rice vinegar runs out) but I don’t notice huge difference in overall flavour in a dish.

  55. Your list of Korean ingredients is just fabulous! I can take this to my local Asian store and match up all the ingredients.
    As a newbie to Korean cooking, I’ve found the abundant shelves of Asian ingredients intimidating, though fascinating. Probably because I can’t read Korean.
    Anyway, a recent addiction to kimchi has led me to your site and recipes. Thanks for all the great info. Xx

  56. Hi Sue I do not have other choice and I agree 100% with your husband in regards to the amount of sugar used in MOST recipes and I used more chilly than the ones you recommend at least in ones I tried

    I live in Melbourne and managed to find Korean rock salt to make my first batches of kimche try and taste and see the size of the rocks i have some left for a year but after it is gone I will go back to an Australian salt, you can find very good salts, one easy to find it is the cheetham salt, here are a few of the links, sure the price are a lot less than the price you paid for the one above, the only problem I purchasing the bags of 20 or 25 Kilos, I use them to preserve meat, make Hams (italian prosciutto- Spanish Jamon) etc.

    As well I like to bake a leg of lamb (welcome to Australia)
    and if you look for the video you will see the amount of salt used

    Any Australian will be very impressed with your skill if you try





    I also have a smoker (both cold and hot) where I smoke some of the salts as well

    I use as well Australian brands like SAXA, Maldon, Murray River Gourmet all of them of excellent quality.

    Thank you for the great work of the blog

    • Thanks Camilo, I’ve never seen (or heard of) cheetthamsalt. Is it available in Woolworth or Coles? I wouldn’t need 20-25kg of salt though. Anyway, it’s always good to know what other options are available in the market.

      • No, under that name (may be resold in small packages?) I am have mine in very large specialized stores here in Melbourne, one it is a very large Middle eastern supplies, the other a large italian butcher than specialized in hams, sausage etc and the other it is http://www.homemakeit.com.au/ I am sure people than process meat vegetables at home (italians – spanish etc) will know many places in your part of Australia. Sure the usual supermarket only sell the more basic items but if you like to make your own chesses, preserved meats, vinegars, wines, beer etc you have to find the rare places than sell this items, not easy to find but they exist, for me have been a hard road to find the Korean stuff over the years, mainly large Glasslock containers where I like to keep my home made kimchee, or rectangular frypans, or the good Korean set of chopsticks etc.

  57. This list is great, my Korean mother would definitely approve ๐Ÿ™‚ I like all your recipes and educational posts on Korean food/culture (Korean food and culture are synonymous in my opinion!).

  58. Hi! I found your blog by accident through a Google search. This list is perfect for beginners to get to know Korean food. I’m Swedish but learned how to cook Korean food a couple of years ago when my husband moved here. I’m still learning and it’s so much fun. Thank you for an inspirational blog and lovely recipes.

  59. Hi Sue. When I need a Korean grocery item, I have always searched the Internet for the product, printed it on my color printed, and then I show it to the clerk at my favourite Korean market. The majority of the clerks here in Korea Town don’t speak English and is very difficult to communicate with them.

    Your article here is my encyclopedia for Korean grocery product. I commend you on this work and I greatly appreciate putting together.

    I humbly say THANK YOU!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! ๐Ÿ™‚ What an effort you’re making each time you go to Korean grocery store! I’m glad to hear this list will be useful for you.

  60. Well, I guess I”ve really turned into a Korean cook – I have everything on your list (except the meat,, which I can’t afford, and the fish cake – I don’t like the ones the market carries!) in my pantry – except that I use fresh ginger and garlic. Actuallly. I have way more stuff than that – buckwheat noodles, mugwort, fresh minari . . . the list goes on and on1

    • Good for you Judith! I haven’t seen fresh minari for ages. Even though I hardly use it, it would be really great if I have an easy option to purchase it when I want it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  61. I don’t know about most of your readers, but I LOVED this post!! A one-stop guide to shopping at the local Hanam Chain Market (do you know of this place? I think it is a chain store http://www.hannamchain.com/). We have a large Korean community nearby (Torrance, CA, USA, ), so this is a great place to shop! Now I just need to take this with me so I can “read” the labels by comparing them with your images and translations. I could not be more excited at the prospect!!
    Thanks so very much for all you post. I always look forward to your updates.

    • Thanks Channon! I haven’t heard of Hannam chain in the US but they look like carrying a huge array of Korean products. I’m so jealous. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you have easier time finding Korean ingredients you’re after.

  62. All I can say is Thank you, Thank you for this post. I will definitely take it with me on my shopping trips to the Asian market. There are so many different choices and varieties of ingredients it’s hard to choose but this will help me in my korean culinary adventures. I can’t wait to go shopping!

  63. I am very thankful to you for your time, that you have put in your website. There are so many things I’ve wanted to know about Korean food, as well as the culture. And you have started me off with a nice experience so far. My little girls and I look forward to your posts every week. Thank you.

    • Thanks Lisa for your kind words! I don’t know how old your little girls are but it’s a great idea to involve them early in the kitchen/cooking experience! ๐Ÿ™‚

  64. That’s for taking the time to give us a navigation tool, into Korean grocery store..amazing post. This one will get printed and put in my purse.

  65. I think this is a TERRIFIC post – my asian supermarket has loads of choices and very little help that has any english of use – being able to SEE what you’re talking about helps me find it ๐Ÿ™‚


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