Hi Neighbors! If you will start cooking Korean food regularly, I would invest into a few Korean kitchen appliances. Listed below are the ones that I've used and recommend:
1. Rice cooker
Korea's staple ingredient is rice. We eat it with everything! So invest into a high-quality rice cooker. The most famous brand in Korea is Cuckoo. Cuckoo has a solid reputation of never breaking down. All of the parts are manufactured in Korea. I have been using my CR-0351 cooker for the last 9 years without a problem! Till this day, I get perfect rice every with the touch of a button.
Note: I have also owned a Zojirushi machine. But it broke down 8 months after purchase - the motor started to whirr very loud and took over 2 hours to cook plain white rice. I did some research and learned that Zojirushi had actually moved its manufacturing from Japan to China. Bummer!
Here are the Cuckoo models which I've used and recommend:
- Cuckoo CR-0351 (Best if you live alone / bachelor / college student)
I've used this model for the last 9 years. Haven't had a single problem! Perfect for bachelors or newlyweds. It's easy to clean, maintain and use.
- Cuckoo CR-0631F (Best for families)
My mom uses this machine at her house. It's perfect if you routinely cook rice for at least 4 people or more. If you will only cook 1-2 servings of rice, don't get this big one. Go for the CR-0351.
- Cuckoo CRP-HS0657F (Pressure Rice Cooker)
Many families eat Japgokbap (Korean multi-grain rice) instead of white rice. As part of prep, the multi-grains in Japgokbap are soaked in water overnight before cooking. With a pressure rice cooker like this, you can skip pre-soaking. Simply wash the grains and throw it into the cooker immediately. It will cook perfectly. That's why you pay a premium for these pressure rice cookers.
2. Korean BBQ grill
We get alot of comments on our Youtube videos about where to buy K-BBQ grills. In Korea, we use a large indoor K-BBQ grill from KitchenArt. But KitchenArt is a small Korean company and they don't export to the US. So I can't recommend that one! However, my parents (who live in the US) have been very happy with a recent purchase from CookKing. They offer a round grilling plate that's slightly raised so all of the fat and oil drips off the meat. The top has a small concave where you can place in garlic slices or Kimchi. My mom likes it as it's very easy to clean.
Note: You need to pour a little bit of water to the water pan to keep it from smoking. You will also need to buy a portable butane gas stove. Here are links to the products:
3. Mini Food Processor
It's all about the garlic! There's alot of minced garlic in Korean food and marinades. Instead of grating fresh garlic on the spot, its much easier to make and store a small jar of minced garlic in the refrigerator. Then you can quickly throw in a few scoops into marinade or sauces. Our family uses this mini food processor from Cuisinart. I like it because it's easy to rinse out after each use.
4. Dolsot 'Bibimbap' Bowls
Two years ago, I gifted my sister a pair of dolsot bowls from SpiceBerry as part of her wedding gifts. She loved it and uses it a few days out of the week. Lately, she has been testing out the vegetarian lifestyle, so bibimbap is one of their go-to meals.
Note: Follow the instructions carefully on how to season these bowls before using. (It's similar to cast iron pans where they need some loving before using them!)
4. Metal chopsticks
This is by no means a "must-have". Use whatever chopsticks you got! But I like metal chopsticks as they stay the same condition... forever! The Japanese and Chinese like to use wooden chopsticks. But wooden chopsticks tend to discolor after months of use. If you will regularly eat Korean food, why not try out Korean chopsticks? They are slender and flat. It may challenge your chopstick skills!