Discover the essential kitchen tools that make Korean cooking unique.

By Maryn Liles
May 13, 2021
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Korean cuisine is among the most distinctive cuisines on the planet, but cooking such unique food requires some specific kitchen gear and gadgets.

So if you're planning on cooking Korean food—whether that means trying out a quick and easy bulgolgi recipe or putting together the perfect bowl of bibimbap—there are a few basic tools you'll want to have on hand to help you master any meal.

Here are five items you'll find in most Korean kitchens—plus tips and ideas on how to use them.

Paleo Korean Beef Bowl
Korean Beef Bowl
| Credit: Allrecipes

Rice Cooker and Spatula

Rice has been a staple of the Korean diet for centuries. The little grain makes a great base for a variety of different meal types and flavors while providing the body with filling carbs.

You'll want a rice cooker in order to properly and easily prepare your rice. This machine will allow you to cook as large a quantity as you want at any given time. You can use a spatula to easy control and corral your rice, as well as maneuver it within your bowls and rice cooker.

Pro tip: Put individual portions into zip-top bags and freeze them, then just pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to defrost, so you don't have to cook rice quite as often.

best rice cookers
Credit: Allrecipes Illustration

Explore the 9 Best Rice Cookers.

Cooking Scissors

It may seem odd to western audiences, but Korean chefs use cooking scissors to cut their massive cuts of Korean BBQ meat. The scissors are also used to cut noodles. Although noodles are served in bite-size, manageable portions in restaurants and even some supermarkets, noodles actually come in massive quantities and fantastically large lengths. Cooking scissors help cut these noodles down to size and keep them manageable on plates and in bowls. Scissors are highly durable and easy to use, unlike overly large knives and other Western cooking utensils.

Zwilling Kitchen Shears
Credit: Amazon/Macy's

Woks

Woks serve a variety of needs. First and foremost, woks are used to mix vegetables together in a way that is both easier to manage and helps retain the flavors of the vegetables and meats being mixed. Woks are deeper than ordinary pots and pans, allowing the juices of the dish to gather and mix to create a unique and delicious culinary delight. Bulgolgi, japchae, and other iconic Korean dishes are cooked using a wok. The cooked food is naturally moved to the sides of the wok while the raw food stays at the bottom, where it meets the heat.

nonstick flat bottomed wok on a yellow background with teal square
Credit: Allrecipes Illustration

Rolling Mats

For making kimbap, a rolling mat is essential. The preparation of kimbap is similar to that of a traditional sushi roll. Rolling mats may seem like an item you could skip, but they're crucial to cooking Korean like a pro. They're inexpensive, too, and make rolling kimbap into a nice tight roll considerably easier.

Sushing rolling mat with ingredients for sush
Credit: Meredith

Stone Bowl

Stone bowls are just that—bowls made of stone. Called Dolsots, these bowls are used extensively in Korean cooking because of their durability and ability to retain heat without hassle or harm. The texture of the bowls also produces perfectly cooked rice, helping develop just the right balance between softness and an almost crunchy texture.

Some of the most delicate and delicious Korean dishes, such as bibimbap and dol sot bi bim bap, use stone bowls to bring their rice to a perfect consistency. While heavy and sometimes immobile, you'll want to invest in a stone bowl or two if you're serious about creating great and authentic Korean dishes.

Korean Stone Bowl
Credit: Amazon

Check out our complete collection of Korean Recipes.

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