#00 Essentials for Korean cooking
1 Soy bean paste • Doenjang • 된장
Soy bean paste is mainly used for making soups and stews but also for marinating meats or vegetable side dishes. Korean soy bean paste is similar to miso but has deeper, earthier and stronger flavours. You can easily find factory made doenjang from asian supermarkets. There are also artisanal doenjang, fermented in a traditional way for long time.
2 Chilli pepper paste • Gochujang • 고추장
Chilli pepper paste is used for almost all red Korean dishes from stews, marinades to sauces. Bibimbap is probably the most well-known dish using chilli pepper paste as a sauce. Chilli pepper paste is made of chilli pepper flake, rice syrup, rice powder, soy bean paste and salt. Its spicy and sweet flavour goes very well with other sauces such as tomato paste, giving a pleasant spicy kick to the dish.
3 Chilli pepper flake • Gochugaru • 고추가루
While chilli pepper paste is a spicy, sweet, earthy paste, chilli pepper flake is a spicy and smoky powder purely made from sun-dried chillis. This is why chilli pepper flake is used for light and refreshing dishes such as soups or side dishes.
4 Dark soy sauce • Jinganjang • 진간장
Soy sauce is a by-product of soybean paste. It is a soybean-based fermented sauce with a pleasant savoury flavour. Dark soy sauce is widely used to season meat, tofu and vegetables and to make dipping sauces.
5 Soy sauce for soup • Gukganjang • 국간장
Even though soy sauce for soup has lighter colour than dark soy sauce, it has richer and saltier taste. It is used for seasoning soups or juke - Korean savoury porridges.
6 Sesame oil • Chamgireum • 참기름
Sesame oil is mostly used in the final stages of cooking to enhance flavour. A very small dose of sesame oil makes a big difference to your dish due to its distinctive aroma. It’s best applied after removing a pan from the heat because its aroma easily fades with the heat.
7 Ground black pepper • Huchugaru • 후추가루
Korean black pepper is very fine ground with mild flavour. In Korean cooking it is widely used but not very noticeable when eating. It is mainly used to get rid of the meat smell.
8 Sesame seed • Kkae • 깨
Sesame seeds are a great garnish with roasted nutty flavour. They are widely used as a final touch to vegetable side dishes, marinades and dipping sauces to enhance a look of dishes as well as add extra flavours.
9 Short grain rice • Ssal • 쌀
Short grain rice, also known as sticky rice or sushi rice, is a ultimate staple in Korean cooking. Stew, soup, main dish, side dish or whatever you cook, rice must be on the table with cutleries. Short grain rice can be cooked alone but also be cooked with other grains for healthier option.