All About Korean Food

All About Korean Food

Publish Date November 2, 2023 5 Minute Read

All About K-food: Exploring Korean Cuisine

Korean food has quickly become a global sensation, enticing food enthusiasts from all corners of the world. From the spicy allure of kimchi to the comforting

harmony of bibimbap, there are so many Korean dishes to get to know and love. Whether you're a seasoned foodie or you’re simply looking to expand your palate, this

guide has you covered with the basic ingredients, staples and recipes to get started cooking Korean food at home.

Staple Ingredients and Spices

Keep these Korean spices and staple ingredients in your pantry for delicious homecooked Korean dishes:

Garlic, Ginger and Scallions

The trio of garlic, ginger and scallions is a fundamental flavor base in Korean cooking, similar to the use of mirepoix in French food or sofrito in Spanish dishes. These three ingredients are used together to create a fragrant and savory foundation for many Korean dishes.


Gochugaru, or Korean red pepper flakes, is a key spice in Korean cooking. It adds a mild to moderate level of heat and vibrant color to dishes. It’s prominently used in making kimchi, stews and various sauces.

Gochujang Sauce

Gochujang sauce is a spicy and savory fermented red chili paste. A dollop of gochujang is typically added to dishes like bibimbap for a bit of heat.


Doenjang is a fermented soybean paste made with seasoned soybeans and fermentation starter called meju. Like Japanese miso, doenjang plays a crucial role in Korean cooking and is used to add depth of flavor and umami to a wide variety of dishes like soups and stews.

Sesame Oil

In Korean cuisine, there are two primary types of sesame oil: toasted or dark sesame oil and untoasted or light sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil is more commonly used in Korean cooking, and its robust flavor is a signature element in many Korean dishes. Untoasted sesame oil has a milder taste and is generally used for dressing salads and cold dishes.


Perhaps the most iconic Korean staple food, kimchi is served with nearly every Korean meal. It's a fermented vegetable dish made with napa cabbage or Korean radishes and seasoned with a mixture of spices, like gochugaru, garlic, ginger and fish sauce.


Rice serves as the foundation for many Korean dishes, including bibimbap, kimchi fried rice and vegetable, bulgogi and tofu bowls. In addition to being a staple Korean food, rice holds cultural significance in Korea. It's a symbol of sustenance and is often associated with Korean identity and tradition, having been a central part of Korea’s agricultural history for centuries.


While you may not keep this staple in your pantry, its cultural significance and prominence in Korean cuisine is certainly worth a mention. Meju in its purest form is a solid block of fermented soybeans, though there are various types of meju, each shaped by family traditions and regional recipes. This ingredient plays a key role in Korean cuisine by serving as a natural fermentation starter, making condiments like doenjang and ganjang possible. The traditional process of making meju has been passed down through generations, and meju-making is often a part of cultural events and festivals in Korea.

Explore Korean Recipes

Popular Korean Dishes

Want to learn how to cook Korean food at home? Here are some of our favorite dishes to try:


Bulgogi is a popular Korean dish made with thinly sliced, marinated beef that’s grilled to perfection. Marinades for this dish are often made from a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, ginger and other ingredients like sesame oil and pear juice to create a blend of sweet and umami flavors. This recipe uses a blend of soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, mirin, garlic and ginger to create a complex and tasty flavor profile before the meat even hits the grill.


Bibimbap is a popular and iconic Korean dish known for its vibrant ingredients and versatility. It's a colorful bowl of rice topped with an array of vegetables, meat and a fried egg. Mix it all together with some spicy gochujang sauce, and you've got a delicious Korean dish.


Galbi is a popular Korean dish known for its savory and slightly sweet flavor. Usually made with marinated and grilled beef or pork short ribs, galbi is often enjoyed as a main course in Korean cuisine.

Kimchi Bokkeumbap

Kimchi bokkeumbap, or kimchi fried rice, is a staple comfort food prepared in Korean households and restaurants all over the world. A great introduction to the distinct flavor of kimchi, this beginner-friendly dish comes together in just 15 minutes and can be topped with a runny egg for a full meal.


Ramyeon, also known as Korean ramen, may not be considered a traditional staple dish like rice or kimchi, but it’s become a popular and well-loved dish in contemporary Korean cuisine. This kimchi ramyeon dish marries traditional flavors with modern convenience for a dish that’s as delicious as it is easy.

Want Even More Fresh Inspiration?

Want to expand your cooking horizons? Check out our blog for even more fresh inspiration, including meal planning, recipes and more.