7 Essential Ingredients For Cooking Korean Food
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South Korean dramas have certainly found their way to the hearts of Indian people and there is no going back now. The whimsical romances and the incandescent nightlife of South Korea have travelled to different parts of the world through Korean cinema and music. Another conspicuous segment of the Korean way of living that has gained immense popularity is Korean cuisine. The introduction of ramen, gochujang, and kimchi has changed the Indian foodscape for years to come, and people cannot be happier about the same. 

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While there is always an option to indulge in some exquisite Korean food at a Korean restaurant, a food enthusiast can always try making Korean food at home as well. But for that one will first need to assimilate basic knowledge about what forms the foundational layer of Korean cuisine. Here are the top essential Korean ingredients that are a must-have for people who want to make Korean food at home.

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* Ganjang

Ganjang is the Korean word for soy sauce and is a must-have item in the pantry for people who love to try making Korean food from time to time. It is most definitely the go-to sauce used for seasoning a lot of Korean dishes. People will be surprised to know that Korean people use soy sauce in their food, more than salt or any other essential spice. An authentic and concentrated soy sauce will be strong, pungent, and very flavourful. Ganjang comes in a lot of different varieties, depending upon its concentration, how it is brood and what specific ingredients are used to make it. The traditional way of storing soy sauce is to keep it in ongii which are the traditional earthenware crocks used in Korea.

* Mirin

Mirin refers to the rice and wine vinegar that is used to enhance the flavour of a lot of Korean dishes. As the vinegar is made by fermentation of rice, it leads to the formation of alcohol that helps in bringing out the flavour of the dishes more coherently. The most common use of mirin is to add it to different types of marinades prepared for fish and meat. It also works well for Korean barbeque dishes. A lot of people confuse it with another type of vinegar called sake. However, the difference is that mirim has a higher level of sugar and lower alcohol as compared to sake.

* Chamgireum 

Chamgireum refers to the sesame seed oil that has shades of amber and helps add a very nutty flavour and aroma to different types of Korean dishes. It is made by first roasting some sesame seeds and then grounding them to produce sesame seed oil. It is important to remember that sesame seed oil is not used in Korea as any other vegetable or seed oil. It is used more as another flavour, enhancer or as a seasoning. Sesame oil or chamgireum is pretty spottable in numerous Korean recipes as well as dipping sauces like yakwa, bibimbap, and many more.

* Gochujang

Gochujang or the red chilli paste is an extremely popular Korean ingredient that is very spicy, but at the same time unexpectedly sweet as well. It is one of the spicy chilli paste that makes a person instantly feel hot and sweaty and at the same time is very hard to resist. Gochujang is specifically made from the powder of gochugaru, lots of fermented soybeans, salt, and rice that have a higher amount of gluten. A substantial part of Korean cuisine is pretty spicy and flavourful which is why this sauce is quite popular.

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* Nori

Nori is one of those ingredients that can be consumed in a lot of different ways which is why one will have to buy it again and again. It is a type of seaweed that is very popular in Korea and harvested throughout the year. This seaweed is dried and made into nori sheets. The nori sheets are used to make kimbap, which is one of the most popular ways of using nori sheets. Other uses include eating these sheets with some sort of sauce as a snack or adding them to soups or stir-fried rice.

* Short Grain Rice

Short-grain rice is one of those ingredients in Korean cuisine that is consumed regularly. The type of rice that is cooked in Korea is generally shorter and plumper than the regular long-grain basmati variety of rice used in India and other South Asian countries. Korean people like to have rice slightly sticky as well as a little bit sweet. Rice is often accompanied by different types of soups, stews, kimbap and dishes besides bulgogi and kimchi.

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* Kimchi

If one had to describe how the heart of Korean cuisine looks then describing kimchi is the best way to put it out. Kimchi is one of those condiments in Korea that is consumed regularly. It is always made in large batches so that people never run out of stock and there is always something left to eat. The obsession is so real that many people in South Korea have a separate fridge to just store kimchi. It is made by fermenting and salting some vegetables and seasoning them with spring onions, garlic, ginger, gochujang, and jeotgal. People can find different types of kimchi in South Korea and some of the most popular ones are baechu kimchi, oii kimchi, and kkakdugi kimchi.