Ganjang (Soy sauce)
Both salty and sweet, soy sauce adds a unique flavor to Korean cuisine. Although there are countless varieties of the condiment, jinganjang is one of the more common, and is often used to season vegetables, seafood, and various dishes such as fried tofu and bibimbap.
Gochujang (Hot pepper paste)
Often considered the cornerstone of Korean cooking, gochujang is a savory, spicy and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. It literally can go on just about anything, from rice dishes to stews and even French fries. It adds a pleasant sweet heat that Koreans simply cannot live without.
Doenjang (Fermented soy bean paste)
Doenjang is a type of fermented bean paste made entirely of soybean and brine that boasts salty and earthy flavor profiles. It has been used as a condiment in Korean cooking for more than a thousand years, and is added as a main ingredient in Korean classics such as doenjang jiggae (soybean paste stew), a dish that often accompanies Korean BBQ.
Garlic, one of the world’s healthiest foods, is also one the most essential ingredients in Korean cooking. Most recipes call for minced garlic as part of the seasoning, but whole garlic cloves are often used to make Korean broths, soups or stews. Koreans also enjoy pickled garlic as a side dish and grilled garlic with Korean BBQ and table cooking.
Marun Myeolchi (Dried anchovy)
Small dried anchovies are often used as an ingredient, along with soy sauce, sugar and hot pepper paste to make braised or stir-fried Korean side dishes such as myeolchibokkeum. Larger myeolchi, on the other hand, are used when making stock for soups like sundubu jjigae.
Gochugaru (Hot pepper flakes)
Yet another essential ingredient in Korean cuisine is gochugaru, a coarsely ground red pepper that has a texture that falls somewhere between flakes and powder. Traditionally, gochugaru is made from sun-dried chili peppers, and versions that are prepared in this manner are still considered to have the best flavor. Hot, sweet and perfectly smoky, gochugaru is a must-have ingredient for various sauces and Korea’s beloved kimchi.