Seasonings and flavorings in Korean Cuisine
Let's get one thing out the way first. THE seasoning is salt. All others may contribute to seasoning, but are used more to add flavor as much as for their saltiness, -prime example: Soy sauce. The distinction is worth making because whilst all food need seasoning, they do not necessarily need flavoring. It seems that with hitherto relatively scarce flavorings now commercially available, use of flavorings have become rather indiscriminate. It used to be that soy sauce was used sparingly since they were made only once a year and had to last.
Having said that, these are the flavorings that are absolutely found in every Korean kitchen. Salt, pepper, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, toasted and crushed sesame seed, dried chilli powder, sugar, chilli paste, soy bean paste, vinegar, garlic, ginger, spring onion, salted shrimp sauce, salted anchovy extract, mustard and MSG.
Some recipe calls for flavorings to be added during cooking, and seasoned to taste before serving such as those using soy bean paste or shrimp sauce, whilst others need to be seasoned, with only tiny amount of flavoring to be added before serving, such as sesame oil and MSG. One last thing: As in any cuisine, quality ingredients will tell; it is always worthwhile to try to get the best.
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