Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Learning More About Korean Ingredients

In order to fully grasp Korean cooking, one needs to understand the ingredients that are used. For produce, one needs to get a sense of where it is grown, when it comes in season, and how it is prepared as well as how to make the best use of it in Korean cooking. One must also consider the texture and flavor of an ingredient as well as its effect on the body to determine how to put it to good use. Some of this knowledge can be acquired over time as one engages with the cooking process. But in order to learn about the background and seasonality of an ingredient, it is important to do further research on one's own through additional study (reading, watching, listening to resources) or consulting with an expert on the subject.

Stuffed Kkaenip Leaves Prior to Battering 
for Kkaenip Jeon or 깻잎전 (One Fork, One Spoon)

Yeongeun Jorim, 'Lotus Roots Reduced in a Sweet Soy Sauce'

Korean Sweet Potatoes or 고구마 ('Goguma') via Rimi

Here are some resources that you may find helpful in learning more about Korean ingredients:


1. Holly of Beyond Kimchee gives an excellent introduction to the common ingredients used in Korean cooking with a great emphasis on sauces and seasonings as well as meats, vegetables, seafood, grain, tea, batter mix, and other convenience foods.

2. Seoulist magazine is planning a series of articles titled The Local Pantry, "introducing produce indigenous to Korea". Here is the first article in the series, on ssuk (쑥) or mugwort by Sonja Swanson.

3. Shin Kim of Shinshine shares quite a bit of background about some of the key ingredients featured in her recipes like the seasonality, cultural information, and how they are prepared in Korean cooking.

4. Grace of One Fork, One Spoon really goes in-depth about the history and cultural background of Korean dishes and their ingredients on her blog. 


1. Naver Kitchen provides a collection of ingredient guides for both Korean and other cuisines, each displaying a brief description of an ingredient, its region of origin, and  nutritional/health benefits as well as guidelines for best storage, preparation, and selection. Similar ingredients as well as serving suggestions are also provided. 

2. Rimi's 식재료 가이드 (ingredient guide - www.rimi.kr/ingridient) also features a series of articles on common ingredients used in Korean and other cooking. Each article explains the history of an ingredient in Korea, its health benefits and considerations, as well as information on handling, storage, preparation, and selection.  

3. 식재료류 ('Ingredients') - a professional Naver blog written by Hwang Gyo-Ik, a food consultant, and a Korean medicine doctor, scholars, and other writers from the food world that is centered on the ingredients used in Korean cuisine. Provides a good cultural/historical background of each ingredient covered.

4. Great Books for Learning About the Essentials of Korean Cooking cover the preparation of Korean ingredients in great detail. 

Posted by tastingkorea

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