JIPBAP: Cooking Korean Food At Home

10 Essential Ingredients for Korean Cooking

Hey Hey. What’s cookin’ good lookin’?

Are you interested in cooking Korean food at home? Perhaps you enjoy eating Korean food at a few different restaurants but you’re ready to take the next step?

Here are 10 must-have ingredients for Korean cooking.

First, I am going to start by, not necessarily Korean ingredients, but some super basic kitchen essentials for the REALLL newbies out there. For all my fellow pro cooks, this first part is going to give you very much of a DUHHH moment. But don’t be too quick to scroll down just yet! I will be covering some different options Koreans often use, instead of the “basic” ingredients you already have up in your shelf.

  1. SALT:

See, I told you you’re gonna have a DUHHH moment. But shhh…let me tell you a little secret. Koreans often use MSG (Monosodium glutamate) containing salt. It is not as commonly used for home-cooking anymore due to somewhat recently discovered health concern reasons (which is controversial) but I do believe it is still widely used in restaurant businesses.


Perfect to give your food a little kick. In North America, we most often use freshly ground pepper which is still quite course in texture. However, most times when Koreans talk about black pepper, they may mean something a little different. Black pepper used in Korean cooking is more so in fine powder form.

  1. SUGAR:

Sweet taste is a big part of Korean cuisine (Even if you think you’re already too sweet HAHA). Instead of sugar, Koreans often use honey, cooking oligosaccharides (올리고당), or starch/corn syrup (물엿) to give certain foods more of a desired sticky texture.


Okay now, on to the main list…

  1. GOCHUJANG (고추장), Red Chili Paste:



  1. GOCHUGARU (고춧가루), Chili Flakes or Chili Powder: 


  2. DEONJANG (된장), Fermented Soybean Paste:


  3. GANJANG (간장), Soy Sauce:


Surprisingly there are a few different kinds out there but I mainly use, JIN-GANJANG (진간장) which is for cooking and GUK-GANJANG (국간장) which is for soup base.


  1. OYSTER SAUCE (굴소스):


  2. SESAME OIL (참기름):


  3. FISH SAUCE (액젓):


Also, many different types out there. For Korean cooking, anchovy fish sauce (멸치액젓) and sand eel fish sauce (까나리 액젓) are most commonly used.


  1. RICE (쌀):


Yes, it is quite common for Korean people to eat rice every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All day everyday baby! Short grain sweet rice is most commonly used. People often mix in brown rice, black rice, beans, and/or millet to add more nutrients to their meals.


  1. GARLIC (마늘):


It’s no secret this very commonly used ingredient is a superfood! Live long, live healthy my friends.




Magic garnish when it comes to Korean food. Trust me. Just sprinkle this stuff on and forget about salt bae. You can be the sesame seeds bae.





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