Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
14 May 2013 - 3:35 PM  UPDATED 15 Jun 2016 - 12:07 PM

Sesame oil

Sesame has long been harvested for its seeds, which appear after the pods ripen and split. Sesame oil can be cold-pressed from raw seeds or, more commonly, hot-pressed from toasted, hulled seeds, creating a dark colour and nutty flavour. It is often used as a marinade or to drizzle on dishes after cooking, much like extra virgin olive oil.

Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are used in abundance in Korean cooking, often roasted and used whole or ground to a paste.


It would be unthinkable to eat a Korean meal without a side dish of kimchi. Often home-made and highly diverse in character, the most common recipe uses shredded Chinese cabbage as a base, to which other ingredients, such as shallots, ginger, garlic, fish sauce and chilli are added, depending on the season. Traditionally a means of preserving vegetables after harvest during the cold winter, kimchi was made and stored in large earthenware pots underground.

Chilli paste

One of numerous fermented Korean seasonings, chilli paste (gochujang) is made from dried chillies, salt, fermented soybeans and rice powder to produce a dark red spicy paste added to soups and stews, marinades and as a condiment for dishes such as bibimbap and bulgogi.

Soybean paste

Soybean Paste (Doen Jang) or fermented Korean soybean paste is a salty condiment used to make rich, thick stocks and stews with vegetables and tofu. It's also used on its own as a condiment with bulgogi. It is made from boiled, ground soybeans, which are dried and fermented in blocks and brined.


Seaweed (Kim) is a crispy snack, found in toasted sheets, which can also be finely shredded and used as a garnish.


A slightly chewy sweet potato noodle frequently prepared with vegetables, beef or seafood. Japchae is most traditionally featured in a dish to celebrate the lunar New Year.

Chinese cabbage

Chinese Cabbage is long and barrel shaped with tightly packed, crinkled green/yellow leaves. Chinese cabbage or wombok is commonly used for making kimchi.


Sliced finely, shallots are used in pancakes, soups and as garnish.

Nashi pear

Grated nashi pear (bae) are often used in marinades, especially for beef, as well as for tenderising meat and adding a natural sweetness. The pears are equally loved as a cleansing, crisp finish to a meal.


Korean food couldn't exist without garlic. It is used abundantly crushed, slivered and raw. Often slivers of raw garlic are served as an accompaniment to bulgogi.