Potatoes and sweet may be substituted rice and are used in cakes and fried food. They are also used to produce starch flour and other processed products.
4) VegetablesThere are various vegetables grown throughout the seasons. They are used as ingredients in soup, Kimchi, salad, namul (wild greens) and pickled vegetables, which are an important source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
5) MushroomsPine mushrooms, brown oak mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, stone mushrooms and snow puff mushrooms are the most edible mushrooms in Korea. Brown oak mushrooms have a good flavor and are often used in braised, steamed, pan-fried and/or stir-fried dishes. Stone mushrooms are often used as garnish.
6) Fish and ClamsBecause Korea is surrounded by sea on three sides, various fish and clams are used in cooking. There are white-flesh fish such as sea bream, flatfish, yellow corvina, and red-flesh fish such as mackerel, as well as abalone, mussels, squid, short necked clams, oysters, blue crab among others. They can be braised, simmered in soy sauce, grilled, steamed and cooked in soups.
7) SeaweedVarious seaweeds such as laver, brown seaweed, tot (brown algae), and sea lettuce are used in soups, fried foods, and salads. Seaweed is a notable health food that is rich in minerals and low in calories.
8) MeatIn Korea, various meat dishes have been developed such as grilled and braised meats as well as dried meat from birds and animals. Beef can have different textures and flavors according to its age, sex, amount of physical exercise, cut, and the level of fermentation. The suitable meat should be selected for a particular recipe. Tenderloin and sirloin are good for grilling and frying. Brisket, shank, gristle, tail and chuck short ribs are the best for soups and braising. Top round, shank and ribs are good for steaming and braising. Top round is the best cut for serving raw, dried or braised in soy sauce. Pork is often used for grilling because pork is more tender than beef, and has different fat distributions according to the cut. Chicken is often used in grilling, frying, steaming and soup because the meat is leaner.
9) EggsChicken eggs and quail eggs are often pan-fried or steamed. They are also used for coating fish or vegetables before frying. They may be fried for yellow and white egg garnishes.
10) FruitsFresh fruits such as apples, pears, peaches and strawberries may be soaked in wine or vinegar. Persimmons and jujubes may be dried rather than soaked. Hard shell nuts such as chestnuts, walnuts, gingkoes and pine nuts are used as garnish for gangjeong cookies, steamed foods, gujeolpan, sinseollo and tea.
1) SaltSalt is the basic source of salty taste in food. It is classified as horyeom, jaeyeom, and table salt according to the size of the crystals. Horyeom is coarse bay salt used in making Kimchi, bean sauce or bean paste and marinated fish. Jaeyeom is a finer salt called “kkotsogeum” (flower salt). It is white and clean, and used as an ordinary salt for seasoning food. Table salt is the finest salt used for seasoning food at the table.
2) Soy sauceThe word for “soy sauce” in Korean means “salty.” Soy sauce is made of fermented beans. It is used for seasoning food. It adds saltiness, a savory taste and coloring. Soy sauce is used differently depending on the cooking method. Soup, jjigae (stew) and namul (wild greens) are seasoned with gukganjang (concentrated soy sauce, 24% salinity). Jinganjang (less salty soy sauce, 16% salinity) is good for braising, slicing and simmering food and also for meats. Seasoned soy sauce or vinegar soy sauce may accompany fried fish and other fried food.
3) Soybean pasteDoenjang (soybean paste) literally means “thick paste.” It is a soybean paste made of the fermented solid ingreㅌdients of soy sauce. Doenjang is usually used in cooking stews such as tojangguk or doenjangguk. It is also served as a condiment for ssam (lettuce or pumpkin leaves used as wraps), or for namul and jangtteok (wheat flour pancakes with doenjang).
4) Red pepper pasteRed pepper paste is used for stews, soups, fried food, salads, grilled food and namul. It is also used in making fried red pepper paste sauce for side dishes, and served with raw fish or mixed noodles.
5) Green onionGreen onions eliminate strong odors from fish and fatty foods. It enhances the taste of food with its unique flavor. They range in size from large to medium to thin. Large green onions are used for seasoning. Finely chopped medium green onions are added to soups such as seollongtang, gomtang and haejangguk. Thin green onions are added to Kimchi.
6) GarlicThe volatile compound called “allicin” in garlic gives it its spicy taste, and eliminates the strong odors from fat, fish and vegetables. Garlic is also an important seasoning for Kimchi. Minced garlic is used for seasoning. Garlic is usually sliced or shred for flavoring or garnishing, although it may also be added as whole cloves.
7) GingerGinger has a unique flavor and spicy taste which eliminates the strong odors from fish and the fat in pork and chicken, and enhances the taste of food. It is minced, sliced, shred or juiced for seasoning.
8) Ground red pepperGround red pepper is made of dried red pepper. It is classified by size as coarse, medium and fine, and classified by spiciness as very spicy, medium and mild. Coarse ground red pepper is used for making Kimchi, the medium size is also used for Kimchi or seasoning, and fine ground red pepper is for red pepper paste or salad.
9) Ground black pepperGround black pepper eliminates the strong odors from fat and fish with its pungent taste and flavor, and it stimulates the appetite. The more pungent black pepper is used for meat dishes while the milder white pepper is used for fish. Whole peppercorns are used in making Korean pear pickles, broths and thick soups.
10) MustardThe mustard seeds in mustard contain the “myrosinase” enzyme. It produces a unique flavor and spicy taste when it is fermented with water at about 40℃. A mustard sauce with salt, sugar and vinegar is used to dress salads such as gyeojachae or naengchae.
11) CinnamonCinnamon has a unique flavor that enhances the flavor of food. Powdered cinnamon eliminates the strong odors from fatty food. Cinnamon provides a special flavor and color in cinnamon punch, rice cakes and Korean cookies.
12) Edible oilVarieties of edible oil include sesame oil, perilla (wild sesame) oil and soybean oil. Sesame oil and perilla oil have a unique flavor that stimulates the appetite. They add a nutty aroma to food and prevent moisture evaporation when grilling meat or fish.
13) Sesame saltSesame salt is made by washing sesame seeds and stir-frying and grinding them with a small amount of salt while hot. This process produces a sweet taste and flavor. It is used to season namul and steamed or braised food.
14) Sugar. Starch syrup. Honey. Glutinous starch syrupWhen sugar, starch syrup, honey and glutinous starch syrup are added to the food, they provide sweetness and color to the food. They also make the food soft and glutinous by keeping it moist for a long time. Therefore, they are used for seasoning food, and used in making Korean cookies, such as gangjeong, junggwa, and yumilgwa.
15) VinegarVinegar is made by fermenting grains or fruit. It adds tartness to food. As a seasoning, vinegar gives a clear and cool taste to the food, stimulates the appetite and helps digestion. It also eliminates the strong odors from fish, makes fish fillets firmer, and acts as an antiseptic.
16) Chinese pepperGround Chinese pepper eliminates the strong odors from the fish and fats in fish or meat soups, and it also breaks down the fats.
17) Salt-fermented seafoodSalt-fermented seafood has been marinated with salt and fermented. It is an important side dish since it has a lot of protein. It is harmonized with salty, sweet and savory flavors when making Kimchi or served as a side dish on the dining table.