When I first started to explore Korean cooking in-depth, I came upon this wonderful primer for understanding the basics and how-to's of Korean cooking, 요리 기초 백과 (Basic Food Encyclopedia). It was written by the editorial team of 주부생활's educational division, a popular magazine for Korean homemakers. This book is a wonderful introduction to the world of Korean cooking for beginners and a great reference for more experienced cooks. It covers a great deal of information about the ingredients, techniques, and tools used in Korean cooking as well as explaining why foods need to be prepared a certain way for flavor or practicality. I have prepared quite a few recipes from this primer and can personally recommend it as everything I have made from this book has been delicious.
Although this book covers a great deal about how to prepare ingredients for Korean cooking, I wanted a deeper exploration of the ingredients used. I found this in a book by the same authors called 주제별 요리 백과 (Topic-based Food Encyclopedia). There is quite a bit of overlap between the two books as they are both primers for Korean cooking. However, there is a significant variation in the material covered as each book has a different focus. '주제별' greatly emphasizes the ingredients used in Korean cooking and the recipes are different for the most part.
Many Korean foods use ingredients easily accessible through your local supermarket. However, there are quite a number of Korea-specific ingredients that are used like 고사리 (fernbracken), 미나리 (water dropwort), and 연근 (lotus root) and many others. These can be purchased at Korean supermarkets or some other Asian grocers. This book also covers Korean-specific preparations of common ingredients like cucumber, rice, beef, and other foods. I highly recommend this book as it will give you a better sense of how to handle ingredients for Korean recipes.
Posted by tastingkorea