ESSENTIAL KOREAN COOKING EQUIPMENT
Here is my list of essential cooking equipment for making and eating Korean food. If you are serious about getting into Korean Cuisine this is the best place to start. Make sure you check out of my top 12 Essential Korean Ingredients for everything you need to get going.
11 Essential Korean Cooking Equipment
Pressure Rice Cooker
Delicious cooked rice is very important for Koreans. Traditionally, people cooked rice in a huge pan over a wood fire in the garden or kitchen. I remember waking up to the smell of freshly cooked rice whenever I stayed in my grandmother’s house. Times have changed and Koreans love pressure rice cookers. Korean rice cooker manufacturers keep developing new designs and functions which easily make really delicious rice. It is far better than cooking rice in a pan since it doesn’t burn the rice at all. You can also set a timer before you leave for work so that hot fluffy rice is ready as soon as you step through the door in the evening. You can even set different functions such as white rice, brown rice, mixed rice, slow cooker, Galbijim (braised beef ribs), etc. Korean pressure rice cookers are a must buy item for asian tourists who visit Korea. I recently bought a new one. It makes my rice taste like the fresh rice my grandmother cooked from a big stone pot. Also, it has a nice washing function. 🙂
Used to make Kimbap (Korean style sushi roll) and Korean omelettes. Kimbap is a very popular dish amongst Koreans. Often found in kids lunchboxes, but also eaten by grown ups as a cheap quick lunch or picnic. There must be a million Kimbap restaurants in Korea. Kimbapnara is my favourite. They are very cheap and the kimbap is made fresh to order. Delicious. Making your own Kimbap is not as hard as you think. Once you have mastered the technique you can quickly and easily make as many rolls as you need for a fantastic, nutritious lunch.
Stone Pot (Dolsot)
A Dolsot is a traditional stone cooking bowl. We use it on a stove to make Bibimbap (check out my recipe), soups and stews as well as rice and is small enough to be transferred to the dining table. Make sure you put it on a heat proof mat so it doesn’t burn your table! It keeps the warmth of the food in the bowl for a long time, so, you don’t have to worry about your food getting cold. You will see a Dolsot used in nearly every Korean meal for an accompanying soup or stew. They are hard to come by in the UK so I brought mine from Korea, but now you can pick them up on Amazon.
Korean BBQ Grill Plate
If you like Korean BBQ, you really need to treat yourself to a BBQ Grill Plate. I love BBQ. I have a BBQ grill for outdoor usage as well as a grill plate for when it is raining (which is quite a lot of time in the UK!). They are great for cooking Samgyupsal (belly pork) and Bulgogi. You can have a BBQ on rainy days at your table! Perfect for England. 😉 The plate makes meat very crispy and tasty as the fat drains away and is collected in a small bowl underneath. The sound of grilling meat is as lovely as the taste. It also have separate compartments for you kimchi and garlic so they never touch any uncooked meat.
It probably comes as no surprise but Koreans use chopsticks to eat their meals. Having said that, Korean chopsticks are unique as they are made from stainless steel and not wood or plastic. Of course you can buy disposable wooden chopsticks and plastic ones for children but everyone else uses shiny metal ones. One advantage to this is that they last a very, very long time. 🙂 When you sit down for a Korean meal, the table will be set with a pair of chopsticks and a soup spoon for each person. A Korean soup spoon has more in common with a western style dessert spoon.
While not strictly a Korean invention, they are widely used to chop vegetables (and sometimes even meat) thinly and evenly. Perfect if your chopping skills aren’t great. Just make sure you keep your fingers well away from the blades! They are incredibly sharp. I use special gloves that are cut-resistant to make sure my fingers stay intact. 🙂 The Mandoline I use has settings for slicing at different levels of thickness and additional blades for julienne chopping, dicing, chipping and is great for making vegetable noodles. It also has a safe mode so it is very easy to clean.
Portable Gas Stove
Not just for camping! Every Korean household will have at least one of these so that they can barbecue at home. Just pop your grill plate on top and away you go. I use this CampingGaz model because it has a handy carry case and is very portable. Just don’t forget to buy gas! There is nothing worse than running out of gas when you have only cooked half your meal. I usually have at least four spare gas bottles as you never know when you might need them. I have found this model to be super easy to use, reliable, sturdy and only requires a quick wipe clean when you are done cooking.
I use my paella pan to make Dakgalbi as it is very similar to the pans used in Dakgalbi restaurants in Korea. It is a versatile pan as it is quite large. I searched everywhere for a large frying pan but there was never anything suitable. I used my wok for a long time but it wasn’t quite right for making Dakgalbi. It was only when my Spanish brother-in-law made Paella for us in a huge paella pan that a lightbulb switched on and I bought one for me. It is perfect for cooking Dakgalbi at my dinner table. Reminds me of one of my favourite restaurants in Daegu. 🙂
I use my food processor to make the base sauce for kimchi and for anything that needs chopping up finely. It is heaven sent for making cheesecake bases and crumbles. It also cleans very easily as long as you soak it straight away. Sometimes I forget and have to give it a bit of a scrub to get rid of the stuck on garlic paste but it always comes up nice with a bit of elbow grease. If you don’t have a food processor you really need to get one. It saves a ton of time. This one also comes with a nice attachment for making smoothies. Perfect for a quick, tasty nutritious breakfast.
Disposable Plastic Gloves
These are an absolute must if you are going to make your own kimchi. Stirring the ingredients doesn’t give the same results as really getting your hands in there and mixing it all together. Why do we wear gloves when making kimchi? Have you ever chopped a chilli pepper and then inadvertently rubbed your eyes? That’s why. 🙂 I’m not sure what Koreans did before they were invented. I suppose they just sat on their hands after making kimchi and ignored the urge to scratch their itchy nose. They must have had more willpower than me! They are also great when handling raw meat as it saves you having to wash your hands all the time.
Believe it or not we have a separate fridge for kimchi! These can be as big as your normal fridge but go down in size to nearly portable depending on your needs. University students usually have a small one tucked away in the corner of their dormitory room. Almost always filled with soju instead of kimchi though. 🙂 The reason we have a separate fridge is that kimchi can be very potent especially as it ferments. If you are serious about getting into Korean cooking I recommend you get one. It will stop all your co-habiting dairy products from tasting of kimchi goodness.