There are several Korean ingredients that I have at all times either in my pantry or refrigerator. Sometimes I come across an item in the most unexpected places, like at Mollie Stones. However, the Korean supermarket is a sure bet, and Asian markets like Ranch 99 may also carry them. Also, if you cannot get to these specialized markets, you can purchase them online.
(I try to stay away from store bought sauces or packaged Korean flour mixtures. I make an effort to recreate certain flavors without using MSG. Of course, there are exceptions like Japanese Curry or Oyster Sauce, which is just better store bought.)
Kochujang or gochujang: A hot pepper paste that is slightly sweet. It’s used in stews, dressing or as a condiment. Store in the refrigerator.
Kochugaru or Gochugaru: Red chili pepper powder, that is either coarsely or finely ground. It’s used in kimchi, sauces, soups and stews. It can be stored in the pantry or refrigerated for longer shelf life.
Miso(light): Japanese soybean paste that is used for soups, stews, dressings and marinades. Store in the refrigerator.
Daenjang: Korean Soybean paste, very similar to miso but deeper in flavor. Store in the refrigerator.
Dashima or Kombu (Dried Version): Dried edible kelp that is often used to make stock. Store in the pantry.
Myeolchi: Large dried anchovies that are used to make stock. Store in the freezer, and use it in the frozen state.
Sesame Oil: It’s used in sauces, marinades, stews, and as a finishing oil. Store in the refrigerator for longer shelf life. If using regularly, store in the pantry.
Toasted Sesame Seeds: Store in the refrigerator for longer shelf life or in the pantry if using regularly.
Soy Sauce: Extensively used in marinades, sauces, dressing, and in place of salt in many Korean dishes. Store in the pantry.
Rice Wine Vinegar: Mild vinegar with a sweetness. Store in the pantry.
Fermented Salted Shrimp (Saeujeot): Salty and briny shrimp paste is used in kimchi preparation. It’s also used in certain soups and quick kimchi. Store in the refrigerator.
Fish Sauce (Korean and Vietnamese): Used in making kimchi or added into sauces. Store in the refrigerator.
Sweet Rice Flour: Used to make mochi and other Asian desserts. Store in the pantry or freezer to prolong shelf life.
Dried Peeled Mung Beans: Used to make savory pancakes. Store in the pantry.
Rice: Korean short grain rice is sticky. Sometimes referred to as “sushi rice,” this rice can be stored in the pantry. Rice cooking 101 can be found here.