Korean Earthenware Cooking

Korean Earthenware Cooking

What makes Asian cuisine different from the West is not only the ingredients but also the art of cooking them. For centuries, Koreans keep the secret to their delicious food in the kitchenware, rather than an unknown sauce or luxurious spices. Today, we will take a look at Korean earthenware and why it helps enrich the flavors of the dishes cooked in them. Shh… let’s enjoy the bubbling sounds now...


Ddukbaegi is a clay pot that comes without a lid and one could use it to cook any dish that would otherwise be prepared in a dutch oven. This cookware must be gradually heated (or soaked in a room temperature water) in order to prevent cracking the clay before cooking, but other than that, using it is really simple! Ddukbaegi bulgogi has all you ever wanted in one hot, sizzling pot. The beef is tender and the soft but crunchy vegetables soak all the flavor from the meat, which brings a great variety of tastes that remain preserved for a very long time because of the pot’s ability to hold warmth.


Another piece of fine pottery is the onggi, a ceramic earthenware that dates back around 4000 BC, and is also used as a storage container. What does it store, you ask? Everything from water for the household hundreds of years ago, to candlesticks and tobacco, to all kinds of fermented banchans! Onggi kimchi is a rather old traditional dish. The special, breathable structure of the onggi helps with the fermentation of the napa cabbage, which is one of the things that makes kimchi so unique in flavor.

Of course, anything can be fermented and stored in the onggi, including soy sauce. A specific type of onggi, called jang-dok, is best for the winter time, during which the soy sauce is fermenting so that the taste remains the same at all times. The jangdok has a gold wire attached to the handhold which prevents irregularities in the process of making it, and there is a belief that if the taste of the soy sauce changes, the house is “ruined.”


Made of stone, or ceramic, the dolsot is popular earthenware for guk (soups) and jjigae (stews). Just like ddukbaegi, the dishes are cooked over a longer period of time on low-heat. The wait is always worth it since the dishes look so appetizing even when you just listen to the bubbling sounds. Of course, one of the most famous dishes is dolsot bibimbap. We all know what bibimbap is, but in the dolsot version, the pre-cooked ingredients get heated in the pot on a stove top, blending into something one would describe as the taste of “Korean home.”

Doenjang-jiggae is a huge hit in Korea both in the cold winters and in hot summers. The vegetable broth and chopped veggies are a healthy and guilt-free meal that will make even those who hate to eat their greens enjoy them in this delicious stew.  Kimchi-jiggae and soondubu-jiggae (soft tofu) are other stews that are generally cooked in a dolsot so that one can enjoy the meal hot for as long as possible.

Just like doenjang-jiggae, samgyetang is a popular dish, especially in summer. Even though the weather might seem too hot for a poached chicken in a temptingly bubbling broth, don’t let that fool you! The dolsot gives the chicken time to drink the flavor of ginseng which gives it a very refreshing and revitalizing taste that will keep you full for a long time!

They say in Korea that a dish tastes the best if it’s hot, so keeping the meal bubbling for a long time can only be achieved if the serving tools are able to retain heat for as long as possible. This brief introduction to Korean earthenware won’t be enough to help you understand the difference kitchenware makes in the flavor of the dish, so choose your meal and make sure to give it a try Korean-style when you have the chance!

Written by Monica Boyadzhieva

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