The first thing you notice when visiting Seoul, South Korea is that amid the frenetic energy of the city, you can find moments of quiet reflection. Proof of this dichotomy can be found in the quiet temples and parks that are built into the city and act as a retreat from fast moving districts like the iconic Gangnam, made famous by Gangnam Style, an ear worm and uber viral Youtube music video from Korean comedian and pop star, Psy.
This dual personality can be found in Korean food as well. From classic dishes, like Soon Du Boo (a spicy and satisfying tofu stew) to innovative street food. The new Korean culinary scene is representative of a broader cultural movement that honors its traditions while welcoming influences from around the world. We've recruited Chef Danielle (Dani) Kim to give us her three pantry must haves for any modern Korean home kitchen along with recipes that cover an expansive culinary culture.
Gochujang is a spicy red pepper paste that is an essential staple that should definitely be in every Korean kitchen according to Chef Dani Kim. "It's an all purpose condiment that brings together all of the major flavor profiles that are indicative of Korean dishes: spicy, savory and sweet."
Gukganjang is a unique soy sauce created to be a flavoring base for many soups and stews. "We Koreans love our soups and stews and this is an essential ingredient that brings umami to any soup stock," says Chef Dani.
Buchim garu is a seasoned pancake mix that typically includes wheat flour and other ingredients such as corn starch, rice flour and sometimes baking powder. This pantry staple makes Chef Dani's list because "The inclusion of rice flour gives it a slightly chewy and crispy texture that is unique to Korean savory pancakes."
Get Chef Dani's favorite modern Korean recipes!