Korean Seasonings (양념 Yang nyeom)

Korean Soy Bean Paste (Dwenjang/Deonjang 된장)It’s only been a few days since my arrival in Seoul but I just couldn’t wait any longer to post–

The last couple months have been a very exhausting but also a very meaningful time. I went through every single item (including 5 cans of WD40’s – don’t ask me why we have so many -and 10 pairs of tweezers!!!!) that we had in the house and so many things brought back all the wonderful memories we had in the US. Leaving was really sad but it was also a catharsis for me. There was a sense of freedom and lightness that came over me as I kept purging away…

And now.. I have to start a whole new life here – including a whole new set of Korean seasonings (양념 Yangnyeom) for cooking. So I started writing down a list and then thought that this list may be useful to many of you. So here it is. This is a minimal list of Korean seasonings and condiments that I feel are must-haves if you are going to cook Korean food.

I have organized the list based on Escoffier’s categorization of seasoning and condiments: (ones in italics are extra and not a ‘must-have’)

Seasonings (양념 Yang nyeom )

Saline Seasonings

  • Salt (소금 Sohkeum) – Korean sea salt is best. (see my K Ingredients page)

Acid Seasonings

  • Vinegar (식초 Shikcho) – Brown Rice Vinegar (현미식초 Hyunmee Shikcho)
    • Persimmon Vinegar (감식초 Kaamshikcho )
    • Apple Vinegar (사과식초 Saakwashikcho)

Hot Seasonings

  • Red chili powder (고추가루 Gochukaroo)
  • Ground black pepper (후추가루 Hoochookaroo)
  • Fresh green chili pepper (풋고추 Putgochoo)
  • Dried Red chili pepper (홍고추 Hong gochoo)

Saccharine Seasonings

  • Sugar (설탕 Seoltang)
  • Rice Malt Syrup (조청 Jochung) – substitute corn syrup or maple syrup
  • Honey (꿀 Kkul)
  • Plum syrup/extract (매실청 Maesilchung) – this syrup was not used much traditionally but is now very popular. Both my mother-in-law and mother gave me a bottle so you can imagine how popular it is now.


The pungents

  • Garlic (마늘 Maaneul), ginger (생강 Saengkang), onions(양파 Yangpa), chives (부추 Boochoo), green onions ( 파 Pa )

Hot condiments (Sauces and Wines)

  • Soy sauce (간장 Kanjang) – see my K Ingredients page
    • Soup soy sauce (국간장 Kook kanjang aka 조선간장 Chosun Kanjang)
    • Dark soy sauce (진간장 Jin Kanjang)
  • Soy bean paste (된장 Dwenjang/Doenjang)
  • Red pepper paste (고추장 Gochujang)
  • Yellow mustard (겨자 Gyeoja) aka Oriental yellow mustard
  • Rice wine or Mirin (미린)
  • Fermented Shrimp (새우젓 Saewoo jeot) -see my K ingredients page
  • Fermented Anchovy Sauce (멸치액젓 Myulchi-aek-jeot)

Fatty Substances

  • Sesame oil (참기름 Chaamkireum)
  • Vegetable oil (식용유 Shik yong yu)

Additionally, following are garnishes that are often used to add finishing flavors and decoration:

  • Sesame seeds (깨 Kkae)
  • Perilla leaves (깻잎 Kkaetnip) – my favorite!!
  • Crown dasises (쑥갓 Ssukkat)
  • Chives (부추 Buchu)
  • Water parsely/water dropwort (미나리 Minari) – aka Japanese parsely
  • Pine nuts (잣 Jaat)
  • Jujube (대추 Daechoo)
  • Gingko Nuts (은행 Eunhang)
  • Roasted Sea Laver (김 Keem) – substitute Nori

Below is a photo of seasonings and some condiments that I was able to get so far.

Korean seasonings - list of essentials with labels

Korean seasonings – list of essentials with labels


With these seasonings and condiments, you should be able to cook almost every Korean recipe. Hopefully I did not forget anything… 😉

PS. If you want to know what brands I like – 풀무원 Pulmuone, 오뚜기 Ottogi and CJ are all good brands in general. 샘표 Sampyo has been making soy sauce for many years…and 해찬들 Haechandeul makes good 고추장 gochujang.


  1. nikki says

    Thank you so much for this comprehensive guide to Korean seasoning. I also really appreciate the brands referral as well as pictures. I am not Korean but I love Korean food and try to make it when I can. I have tried a few of your recipes and everything is excellent. Your chapchae recipe has been made at least 5 times and I have taken it to a couple of pot lucks and it is always popular. Thanks so much. I hope you’ll updates a little bit about life in Korea too. I have always wanted to visit but have not had the opportunity. I hope to see Korea soon. BTW, your garlic tip, buying peeled garlic and processed in food processor and freezing was life changing! I love garlic but i HATE the lingering smell that you get on your hand after you are done cooking and eating. BLEH but now I don’t have to deal with that anymore.

    • says

      Hi! Thank you SOOO much for your comments. It is so encouraging to hear that my posts have been helpful to you. I am debating right now whether to include the life in Korea updates in my posts or to create another blog..there’s certainly plenty of things to write about since I have come back as a foreigner (since I’m not a US citizen). So glad that you read about my garlic tip. I will try to learn more tips from my family and friends here. And so happy to hear that you like the chop chae dish. If you don’t feel like making all the different ingredients, you can always omit some of it or stir fry all of the ingredients together or just use mushrooms, onions and beef in lieu of carrots and spinach. Enjoy!

    • says

      Sorry for the late response! I thought I had responded already..모듬 means “mixed” and 곡밥 means “grain rice” so together they refer to mixed grain rice. But it does not define what the mix is so I guess you are kind of right in that it’s a mystery rice! fyi, there’s also 오곡밥 which means five grain rice that is comprised of white rice/glutinous rice, adzuki beans, sorghum, glutinous millet and black beans or soy beans. The term 오곡밥 (ohgokbap) is used loosely in many situations and can basically refer to mixed grain rice. Hope this helps! Thanks.

  2. says

    Your new life must be so exciting! I love posts like this, and i was pleased to note that I have everything you listed, so I must be doing things right. I even have a bottle of 매실청 that was made by friends who invited me to their home to make kimchi with them. And my kimchi refrigerator is all set up and full – I found a used one through Yelp! When you have time (and inclination), I would love to see a post on fish and seafood like the comprehensive one you did on meats, including cooking tips – I am always frustrated when I go to the market, see all this beautiful seafood, and have no idea what to do with it.
    I would also enjoy posts about life in Korea, whether you put them in this blog or another – I think it’s less stress to maintain one site, but whatever you do, I’ll be following along. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi! So good to hear from you!! And very happy to hear that you enjoyed my post on seasonings. Sure, I will def. keep your request of seafood on my “to post” list. I have been actually debating whether I should create another blog about life in Korea or not…I am kind of leaning towards putting them in this blog – at least for now. I have so so much to talk about I have been thinking about it all day wondering where I should start…
      Anyway, thanks so much for your comments. take care

  3. SL says

    Hello JinJoo,

    I am really impressed on the details you have for us on these Korean seaonings….

    Its a great help for non Koreans…really, what make me wanted to whip up your traditional korean dishes at home like kimchi,panfried floured & egg zucchini (side dish),seaweed soup and many more are the health benefits it hold.
    I wonder …how come most korean homemakers are so.. so good in the traditional Korean cooking ?
    I hve not cover your whole blog yet…and i am wondering you must have a very good Korean crusine family base….you must have take after some elderly members in your family that you could put everything in this blog in such length in details..
    I must say you know your Korean cooking very well at your age..good efforts you must have put in.

    • SL says

      What make homemade kimchi special is the asian brown pears that i add in…it makes a great difference except its liquid is more on the runny side..

      I save all left over liquid from my kimchi into kimchi stews…my nieces loved them so much.

      its worth making kimchi at hme but we finished it very quickily too….5-6 kgs in about a month or so..fingers hurt…

      • says

        Yes, asian pears do add great flavor to kimchi. And the left over juice does make kimchi stews taste wonderful doesn’t it? Thanks for stopping by!

    • says

      Thank you so much SL for your compliments. I really appreciate your thoughts. I do have a great family base as you said – I have 3 older sisters (all 10+ years older) who are fabulous cooks, my mother-in-law, my dad are also great great cooks.

      I do worry about future generations though – as my generation has not been the best in absorbing all the knowledge our parent generations had to offer.

      That is one big reason for this blog – so I can pass on whatever I know to future generations…


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