You don’t always need to keep these in your pantry for immediate use because they are less versatile than the other ingredients in this guide. They are usually for more specialized dishes, but they are crucial to those dishes! So if you don’t have easy access to Korean ingredients and are stocking up, then get the ones that are used in the dishes you really like.


Starch noodles (dangmyeon)

These noodles are a necessary ingredient for making good japchae. I often make japchae when I have a guest over or go to a potluck party, so I always keep these on hand.

I sometimes use these in my bulgogi too: I make a bed of noodles at the bottom of the platter and then layer the bulgogi on top. The juice from the bulgogi mixes with the noodles, and everybody tells me how delicious it is.

These noodles are also known as “glass noodles” in the store.

Store in a cool, dry place.

See all recipes that use these noodles


black bean paste

Black bean paste (chunjang)

This salty paste is a needed to make jjajangmyeon, but you can also use it in mapa tofu or dakjjim to give those dishes a bit of color and enhance their taste. Some of my readers have asked me how to make chunjang at home because it’s very hard to find outside of a Korean grocery store. But Koreans rarely make homemade chunjang, so personally I don’t know how to do it.

Store in the fridge after opening.

See all recipes that use black bean paste


Mung bean starch powder (cheongpomukgaru)

This is mainly used for cheongpomuk muchim, which I often make in my cooking classes or when I go to a potluck party. The dish is always popular. Not only is it delicious, but it’s very healthy, low in calories, and vegetarian, so anyone can enjoy it.

Store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 to 3 months.

See all recipes that use mung bean starch powder


Barley malt powder (yeotkireumgaru)

I use this powder to make shikhye for my family on special occasions, or when I have a party with people who enjoy Korean food.

Store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 to 3 months.

See all recipes that use barley malt powder



Dried pollock (bugeochae)

I use this for bugeoguk, which is not only delicious but also a good hangover cure.

Store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

See all recipes that use dried pollock strips



Pine nuts (jat)

I use pine nuts to make jatjuk or to add to my ginger tea. They are great as a garnish for dishes like galbijjim, mapo tofu, and steamed pumpkin with rice filling.

Store in the fridge for up to a few months.

See all recipes that use pine nuts

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