food

The Stuff Every Korean Family Buys From the Supermarket Is Also Online

Photo: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Korean supermarkets (like H Mart) are true emporiums that carry everything from gochujang to small appliances to skin-care products. My favorite category? All the practical (and affordable) kitchen and home goods that you’ll see in most Korean households. If you know what to look for at a Korean supermarket, you can, say, find everything you’d need to engineer a makeshift Korean-barbecue restaurant at home, or stock a Korean-mom-approved kitchen, or delight a host or hostess with an unexpected (but useful) housewarming gift. And if you can’t make it to an actual store, don’t worry. Many of the best things found at Korean supermarkets — from tabletop grills to ramen pots to exfoliating towels — are also available online.

For city dwellers with limited access to outdoor space, this nonstick, electric tabletop grill by (Japanese brand) Zojirushi is the next best thing to an open charcoal flame. It gets really hot and cooks a mean short rib, pork belly, and, heck, even hot dogs — complete with grill marks. And a removable drip pan makes cleanup a breeze.

It’s not a Korean kitchen unless there’s at least one pair of shears around. These chef-recommended scissors are meant for cutting up galbi and other barbecue but would be just as good at portioning pizza slices and snipping herbs.

You’ll find this faux-wood (actually plastic) table in many Korean households, where the older generation prefers to sit cross-legged on the floor for their meals. Or maybe you’ve seen it in Hong Sang-soo movies; characters are often featured gathered around one as they get hammered on soju like there’s no tomorrow. While preferred by elders, the table’s shorter height also makes it great for kids. This one even has foldable legs, making it that much easier to store.

These can be found at homes and restaurants alike, usually in a little utensil box with chopsticks that lives on the table. Korean spoons have shallow, wide mouths and long stems, the better to eat a steaming bowl of tofu stew or oxtail-bone soup with. You’ll never go fishing for a lost spoon ever again.

Here’s a set of stainless-steel chopsticks to go with those spoons. According to Strategist editor Maxine Builder, who uses these for cooking and eating food, the chopsticks are lightweight, easy to clean, and virtually indestructible.

For those, like this writer (Lauren Ro), who find wood an easier material to get a grip on than metal, this set of twisty bamboo chopsticks might be a better option.

And for the budding Asian-food enthusiast, a plastic set of “training” chopsticks that will help younger eaters learn how to hold and use them. This set comes with an added bonus: It will introduce kids to the world of Pororo, Korea’s most popular little penguin, whose friend Petty sits atop the chopsticks.

When it comes to rice makers, Cuckoo is the brand of choice in Korean households. You can usually find a few different models at your local Korean supermarket; this one can make up to six cups at a time and has ten different settings. Once the rice is ready, a more authentic way to fluff it is with a Japanese rice paddle.

A less expensive way to prepare rice would be on the stove in one of these stoneware bowls, which can go directly from the burner to your dining table. And they’re not just for rice — you can use the bowls to make stews and soups, which will continue to bubble inside them even once they’re taken off a flame.

For serving rice, these lidded stainless-steel bowls are a staple in Korean restaurants. Each is the perfect serving size and will keep contents nice and warm.

Some households have dedicated pots for whipping up instant ramen (or ramyun, as it’s called in Korean). They’re usually made out of lightweight aluminum, like this one. Wisdom dictates that the more banged up a pot, the better-tasting your noodles are. (You can of course use aluminum pots like this to cook other things as well, but they’re not very insulating.)

Instead of a traditional sponge, you’ll find cute, crocheted dishcloths shaped like fruit in many Korean kitchens. Made of acrylic, these are durable, fast-drying, non-scratching, machine washable, and dishwasher safe.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

While you’re stocking up on scrubbers, don’t forget a pair of these Korean dishwashing gloves, more affectionately known as “mommy hands.” According to contributor Rachel Khong, “They will change your life.”

When I first saw this pastel play mat at a friend’s house, I was surprised by how nice it looked in her living room. It’s like those those ubiquitous puzzle play mats but better: thick, cushiony, smooth to the touch, and foldable — the latter making it even more ideal for city apartments. It won’t only keep your baby comfortable from tummy time to when they’re toddlers, but even their older caretakers, too.

Most Korean households rely on hermetically sealed food containers to prevent garlicky aromas from permeating the refrigerator. While some kinds are plastic, this glass Snapware set is one of the best.

If you’re going to ferment your own kimchee at home, you’ll need a dedicated container like this one, which has an inner vacuum lid to prevent air from getting in.

The Strategist has covered the glove version of these towels before, but the bath-size ones are great because you can sling them over your shoulders and scrub your back in a diagonal motion. Using one is like getting a really satisfying back scratch every time you shower.

I drink this tea like it’s, well, water. I don’t know exactly what it is except that it comes from the root of a flowering plant of the same name and that my parents like it. It has the nutty flavor of barley tea, but imparts a cleaner taste. It’s like the hot-tea equivalent of Gatorade. It quenches your thirst.

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The Supermarket Things Korean Families Buy Are Also Online