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The Common Spices Found in Korean Food

by Serena Martinez / May 12, 2023 11:31 AM EDT

Korean cuisine is known for its rich and bold flavors, and spices play a vital role in achieving these flavors. Korean food is often associated with spiciness, and this is largely due to the use of certain spices. The use of spices in Korean food has evolved over time, and today Korean cuisine is characterized by a blend of traditional and modern flavors. In this article, we will discuss the most common spices used in Korean food.


Gochugaru, or Korean red pepper flakes, is one of the most important spices in Korean cuisine. It is used in many dishes, from stews and soups to kimchi and bibimbap. Gochugaru is made from dried and ground red chili peppers, and it has a smoky and slightly sweet flavor. The level of spiciness can vary depending on the type of chili pepper used and the region where it is produced.


Garlic is another essential ingredient in Korean cuisine, and it is used in many dishes. It has a pungent and slightly sweet flavor that adds depth to savory dishes. Garlic is often used in marinades and sauces, and it is also a key ingredient in dishes like bulgogi and galbi.


Ginger is a versatile spice that is used in many cuisines around the world, including Korean cuisine. It has a spicy and slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with savory dishes. In Korean cuisine, ginger is often used in marinades, sauces, and stews.

Soy sauce

Soy sauce is a staple in Korean cuisine, and it is used to add depth and flavor to many dishes. It has a salty and savory taste that is essential in dishes like bibimbap and bulgogi. There are many different types of soy sauce, including light, dark, and aged, and each type has its own unique flavor profile.

Sesame oil

Sesame oil is a fragrant oil that is used in many Korean dishes. It has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor that adds depth and richness to savory dishes. Sesame oil is often used as a finishing oil, and it is also a key ingredient in dressings and marinades.

The use of spices is an essential part of Korean cuisine. From the bold and spicy flavor of gochugaru to the fragrant and nutty flavor of sesame oil, each spice plays an important role in creating the complex and delicious flavors that are characteristic of Korean food. Whether you are a fan of spicy food or prefer milder flavors, there is sure to be a Korean dish that will satisfy your taste buds.

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