How to Ease into Cooking Korean Cuisine

So You Want to Cook Korean Food…

I’ve gotten a few comments about people looking to cook Korean food at home, but aren’t sure how to start/ what ingredients they need to have on hand. While there are a few Korean-specific ingredients you’ll need, once you add them to your pantry, you can cook a whole bunch of dishes with ingredients you can find at any supermarket (vegetables, meat, etc).

Some Pantry Essentials:

korean ingredients

soy sauce – not all soy sauces are alike, you need a Japanese or Korean brand for Korean cooking. We like Kikkoman!
sesame oil
red pepper flakes (can purchase on Amazon)
Korean red pepper paste (can purchase on Amazon)
Korean soybean paste (can purchase on Amazon)
The first two ingredients can probably be found at most supermarkets in the Asian/ international section, and you can order the last three ingredients online or find them at your local Korean market.

Start Cooking!
Once you have your ingredients, here are a few easy meals you can put together:

Rice with side dishes (“banchan”) – Koreans frequently eat rice with various side dishes, which you can make during the weekend and eat throughout the week. There are hundreds of recipes for side dishes, ranging from the very simple to the more complicated to prepare.  Here are some basic ones to get you started:
Steamed Tofu with Soy Sauce

Spicy Cucumber Pickles

Breaded Cod Filets

Spinach Side Dish

Pan-fried Pork Cutlets

Soups and stews – These one pot meals are filling and easy to pull together! Stews are often no more complicated than boiling bones/ meat (the cheapest cuts) to create the soup base, and then adding various vegetables, protein, and maybe noodles.
Savory Curry and Rice

Doenjang Jjigae (translated: “bean paste stew” – better than it sounds, trust me!)

Bean Sprout Soup – a light soup, serve with rice and a few side dishes

Korean Cooking Blogs
And lastly, I just wanted to note that despite the fact that my mom cooks great Korean food, I learned little from her kitchen growing up, alas – but luckily there are several fantastic Korean cooking blogs out there! Here are some of my favorites:

Maangchi – the ultimate resource!
Korean Bapsang
Aeri’s Kitchen
Kimchimari – another WordPress blogger!


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