Greetings, fellow Korean foodies! This one is for you. Shopping for a Korean foodie can be tricky, but also simple. The nice part is that with Korean food items, a lot of things actually make excellent gift items. So whether you are shopping for gifts for birthdays, the holidays, you can’t go wrong with the items on my curated list.
Click on images for detail.
Disclaimer: For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links for your holiday shopping fun.
Let’s start with the staple of Korean cuisine. KIMCHI!!
For kimchi lovers
Mother in law’s kimchi has been showing the world what kimchi is all about since they’ve been branding their kimchi. Their kimchi days roots back to the humble days of serving it as a side dish at Jangmo Jip in Garden Grove, CA. They have another location in La Palma, CA, which I have been frequenting for decades. I can proudly say that it’s one of the very few restaurants that I’ve been able to enjoy for almost a lifetime. A lifetime! I go there for my sullungtang fix. And what makes me keep going back (when there are other options closer, with equally good sullungtang) is their kimchi (love their ggakduki).
In Korean culture, when a woman marries into a family, it is customary for her to master the kimchi taste of that family’s kimchi. And the kimchi making skills are usually learned from her new mother-in-law.
So can you imagine? You had perfected the kimchi recipe that tops all other kimchi recipes. You get married into a family where the mother thinks her kimchi is the shit and expects you to make kimchi that way every single time. She would want you to feed her son the kimchi he grew up eating and nothing else. Don’t be surprised if that’s one of the ways that family feuds start in Korean families. lol okay, maybe this type of scenario was probably more common in the old days. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this type of drama still went on in some families.
And yes, kimchi makes a great holiday gift. Sharing kimchi love during the holidays is greatly appreciated. No one will be disappointed with a kimchi gift. One can never have enough kimchi. When I was growing up, around this time of year, I remember receiving jars of kimchi from a family friend of ours. She’d make a huge batch and share it with friends and family as holiday gifts. “What could be a better gift than kimchi?” I still remember one of the other friends saying after receiving a batch.
And if you’re inclined to give a go at kimchi making but are apprehensive about the intricacies of it, Mother in law even has a DIY Kimchi Kit to make life easier!
OMG growing up, our backyard was filled with crocks like these (but bigger and uglier). It would make our backyard stink of fermentation action. This is where you would find dwenjang (soybean paste), gochujang, kimchi, among other fart smelling items. As a kid, I used to be embarrassed by these fart smell producing things and wished we didn’t have them. These are called hangari. And they’re the source of everything amazing. In perfecting the taste of kimchi, it’s all about the terroir. To achieve and maintain that taste, our ancestors used to dig up dirt to bury the kimchi in. Here is a video clip that shares a bit about that. In this video clip, it shows a short footage from the Chosun era of those strategically hauling hangari to the destined spot. Kimchi dates back to 7th century in Korea. (info about ongi)
If you’re going to partake in kimchi making fun, you’re definitely going to need one of these! Kimchi making is serious business. In many Korean families, it’s usually the women that make kimchi. On a designated kimchi making day, they gather and make kimchi! It’s a bonding experience.
If you don’t have underground space to bury your kimchi in, a kimchi refrigerator is going to be your best friend. You can control the settings to mimic the fermentation process as when it’s buried underground. This kind of reminds me of a funny story. A chef I know told me about the time he was at a friend’s house (who was Korean) and had a kimchi fridge. Chef asked the Korean friend if he had any beer. The Korean friend replied, “Yeah, it’s in the kimchi fridge.” When chef opened the can of beer to drink it, he said that it tasted like kimchi! Kimchi flavored beer lol. ummm….pass on that one! Whether treating yourself or for a fellow Korean food lover, this is one gift item you can’t go wrong with. Great tasting kimchi every time!
Korean style table
When I was growing up, I don’t think we sat in chairs at the dining table until I was a teenager. We sat on the floor as we gathered around a table like this. Almost every Korean household that I know has one. As my parents became more Americanized, I guess that is when we evolved to the more *American* table settings.
These days, the Korean style table my family has is tucked away and pulled out for special occasions (i.e. family gatherings). It’s not used for everyday meals, but we can’t be without one. Jesa food is usually displayed on this type of table. More about jesa here.
Let’s get cookin’!
Koreans like to eat family style. With your own stovetop grill pan, you can have your own KBBQ party at home!
Of course, if you don’t already have one, you’re going to need a burner.
M.V. Trading Co NS7000C/GN Soniko Portable Gas Stove with Infrared Technology Ceramic Burner, Mini, Green
GasOne Butane Fuel Canister (12 Pack)
……and plenty of butane to last.
Stone pots (dolsot)
This here is the secret to Korean cooking. Stone pots just seem to create magic.
Perfect for bibimbap and stews!
Crazy Korean Cooking Korean Stone Bowl (Dolsot), Sizzling Hot Pot for Bibimbap and Soup – Premium Ceramic (Medium with Lid)
Have you tried eating a bibimbap in one of these? OMG! The hot stone turns the rice into something magical. But of course, there’s so much more you can do with these than just bibimbap!
One is not a true Korean if one does not own a rice cooker! Cuckoo is a trusted brand that my family has been using for years. It’s strange for me to have a rice cooker that doesn’t speak to me, informing me that my rice is starting to cook or that my rice is ready. Mine is set to speak in Korean. But langauge setting is also available to set in English or Chinese as well. This rice cooker is amazing.
Korean style spoon and chopsticks set
Growing up, I remember somebody giving us a gift set of spoons and chopsticks. They were tucked away in its original casing and taken out when we had parties. Korean chopsticks are metal. Ever wonder why Korea is the only country that uses metal chopsticks? Read more here.
I have a confession to make. As American as I am, I still have no idea what a typical American packs their lunch in. For me, bento boxes have always been it. If I’m packing food, it’s usually rice and banchan. I can put rice in one compartment and banchans in the others. And it comes with a cute little bag for convenience. If you’re a fan of Kdrama, the girls are always packing lunches in one of these for the man they’re after and bringing them by to their work. You’ll see them bringing artful labor of love that they got up at the crack of dawn to make or something they made their maid ajooma prepare and trying to pull it off as something they made themselves. Sometimes it’s thoughtful (if the attraction is mutual). Other times, it’s just stalkerish and annoying! And in some scenes, they’ll walk in to the office carrying this only to find them going out to a fancy lunch with another woman! Gotta love Kdramas.
Korea Noodle Pot / Hot Shin Ramyun Aluminum Pot 6.3″(16cm)/ Traditional HOT POT
I effing love these old school ramen pots. The first thing I ever learned to cook was ramen and it was in a pot like this. It seems like these went away for a while and then made a comeback in the recent years. When I came across them, it reminded me of the good old days and I just had to buy a couple. I swear, this is the only way to do ramen. And that lid!! Koreans need that lid to slurp the noodles from. It’s #akoreanthing . KEEMI shows how it’s done here.
You guys know what a fan I am of the fire noodle series! I’m proud to say that I have tried all of them, except for Mara. But this pack here contains Mara, known to be 4x the spicy! The fire noodle series is not for everyone. But if you’re shopping for a spicy food lover, challenge them with this gift set!
Snacks in a box
Delight any Korean foodie with these box of favorites. From newbies to the Korean food scene to seasoned pros, like myself, these boxes are packed with goodies to love. They’re excellent choices if you’re trying to introduce someone to Korean snacks
Get all the favorite classics in a box! One customer described it as “memories in a box”. I couldn’t agree more.
Healthy Snack and Asian Meals – College Care Package – Gift Pack –
More goodies to love!
My experience with bbundaegi has been one of my most viewed posts (read here if you’ve missed it). It’s a popular Korean street food snack that’ll put some people in “Fear Factor” mode. But if you or your fellow Korean food lovers are daring enough, give it a try!
I love Korean style coffee. Maxim is a top selling Korean coffee brand. When I am too lazy to use my Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer System with Stainless Thermal Carafe (CF097), I sometimes resort to one of these. I honestly prefer using the Ninja….but it takes work! I have to grind the coffee, add water, and also have to deal with the cleanup afterward. With these coffee packets, there’s less hassle. All I need is hot water and I simply add the packet. I have these tucked away for lazy days.
Normally, I am not a fan of hard candy. But these two here are candies that I actually like.
Well, maybe it’s because I just love coffee anything. When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to have coffee (or it would’ve probably been considered bad parenting). But every once in a while, I was able to enjoy coffee candy.
Korean Red Ginseng Candy
I used to watch my parents enjoying these. But as a child, with a child palate, I remember spitting it out after a taste. Years later, when I tried them again as an adult, my adult Korean palate kicked in and I’ve acquired a taste for them. The Korean Red Ginseng flavor really pops for a refreshing taste.
KGC Cheong Kwan Jang Korean Red Ginseng Extract
Korean Red Ginseng Extracts are my parents’ favorite gifts to receive. They get so excited every time someone gives them a case, usually on their birthdays or for Christmas. They diligently take it until the last sip of the last pouch is all gone. Korean Red Ginseng is known for boosting the immune system, reducing tiredness, boosting sexual stamina, and so much more!
Shaved ice maker
I love patbingsu (red bean Korean shaved ice dessert). As a patbingsu lover, I would love forever, whoever got me this!
When this first came out, I was ecstatic. Boongeobbang is another childhood favorite of mine. It’s especially so good to have during the cold winter months. In Korea, people follow their noses to the nearest boongeobbang stand to get their fix. It comes out piping and is just what is needed during the bone-chilling winter months in Korea. WIth the boongeobbang maker, you can make your very own, just the way you want. Watch video clip. So easy and fun to make!
I kid you not. It’s not uncommon for SPAM to be given as gifts in Korea. Spam was one of the things I blogged about when I first started blogging. SPAM holds a special significance in Korean history. SPAM was introduced to Korea during the Korean War. Americans see it as “trashy” food that they wouldn’t give a second thought to. Koreans have a high reverence for SPAM. It played a vital role during a dark period in Korean history. Growing up, I rarely saw a Korean family without SPAM in their pantry.
She’s the OG Korean cooking Youtuber. She breaks things down so that even a novice cook can follow her simple recipes.
The Editorial Reviews on this one are impressive. Here is my favorite from the many reviews.
“Koreatown is not a place. It’s an energy, an attitude, a painstaking stew of spice and frugality and brutally honest flavors. For the first time, here’s a book that captures all of its electricity and mystery in a voice that is both vibrant and respectful.” —Edward Lee, chef and author of Smoke and Pickles
For Soju Lovers
I have a thing with soju accessories. I think it started back in the day when I used to be obsessed with Mashimaro. I had a keychain of Mashimaro holding a soju bottle and I kind of got a kick out of it.
I’d sport these! lol
So there you have it! I’ve personally picked out the items on this list myself and hope it’ll be of help for anyone shopping for a Korean foodie!
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Korea -Korean food & recipes (this one is a group board that I was invited to join a long time ago)
Learning Korean through food (this board I created specifically geared towards Korean 101 series)
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