Korean side dishes, also known as banchan, are a staple in Korean cuisine. They use a combination of vegetables, meat, and spices to create a variety of different dishes that can appeal to any palate. Common ingredients found are green onion, radish, and gochugaru (a Korean red pepper).
A pivotal part of Korean cuisine are the side dishes. They are served in small dishes across the table and usually the more side dishes, the more formal the meal is.
In Korean, these shared side dishes are known as banchan. They typically have very bold and unique flavors that can appeal to any tastebuds.
These side dishes are able to be sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, and salty. There are many different types of Korean side dishes that each bring a different flavor to the table.
Most of these side dishes are easy to make and can be done in a short amount of time. We have compiled a list of our favorite Koren side dishes for you to try at home.
|Korean Radish Kimchi (Kkakdugi)||35||1 hour 30 minutes|
|Sweet And Salty Lotus Roots (Yeonkeun Jorim)||101||35 minutes|
|Korean Dried Zucchini Side Dish||16||50 minutes|
|Korean Tuna Pancakes (Chamchijeon)||122||15 minutes|
|Korean Cucumber Salad||32||10 minutes|
|Spicy Korean Tofu||121||20 minutes|
|Kelp Noodle Salad||116||25 minutes|
|Quick And Easy Spicy Korean Coleslaw||133||15 minutes|
|Korean Candied Sweet Potatoes (Goguma Mattang)||174||45 minutes|
|Korean Lettuce Salad (Sangchoo Geotjeori)||48||10 minutes|
1. Korean Radish Kimchi (Kkakdugi)
It is impossible to have a list of Korean food without mentioning kimchi. It is a staple food in Korea and is found at almost every dinner table.
While kimchi is traditionally made with cabbage, this recipe is made from daikon, a type of radish. This gives it a crunchy texture and an almost refreshing taste.
The spice used in this kimchi is a common Korean red pepper powder called gochugaru. You can make your kimchi as spicy as you like by changing the amount of gochugaru in it.
To aid in the fermentation process, sugar and salt have been added to the daikon. Red apple is also added which provides a natural sweetness and aids in the fermentation process.
This kimchi only needs to ferment about 3 days before it is ready for consumption but of course, it will taste better if left for slightly longer.
Since it is fermented, it helps your gut health as it has developed beneficial microbiotics.
2. Sweet And Salty Lotus Roots (Yeonkeun Jorim)
Lotus roots aren’t as common in western cuisine but it is crunchy, slightly sweet, and perfect for a side dish.
The aim of this recipe is to achieve that crunchy texture of a lotus root while giving it a sauce that is perfectly balanced between sweet and salty.
It is relatively low in calories with the sauce being made out of soy sauce and maple syrup instead of raw sugar or corn syrup. This sauce needs to create an almost glaze to coat the lotus roots.
You are able to get fresh or blanched lotus roots but fresh is harder to find and prepare.
Whatever kind of lotus root you use, you need to make sure it is completely dry so that it can completely absorb the sweet and salty glaze.
3. Korean Dried Zucchini Side Dish
This recipe uses rehydrated zucchini slices. This is because dried zucchini has a deeper, more concentrated flavor.
They are soaked in water for only about 45 minutes until they are pliable and still retain that concentrated taste.
Zucchinis naturally have a lot of water in them and they have a crunchy texture when raw. Rehydrated zucchini slices have a chewier texture and are able to absorb flavors better.
This recipe is perfect for the summertime as the zucchini is sauteed in garlic, scallions, and sesame oil. It is simple but really highlights the taste of the zucchini and makes it very light and refreshing.
4. Korean Tuna Pancakes (Chamchijeon)
This is a popular savory pancake recipe and for good reason. The results are a perfectly crispy pancake with a soft inside.
They are very quick to whip up as you just need to combine all the ingredients and then fry the batter in a little bit of oil.
The pancakes are very versatile and can be served with a bunch of different foods, or enjoyed by themself.
Tuna is used as a protein and there are also a lot of vegetables in the pancakes as well such as onion, carrot, green onion, and garlic. These ingredients can be changed based on preference.
A great addition to this recipe is the inclusion of cheese. Not only does it make the pancake taste even better, but it can make the outside of the pancake even crispier.
5. Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)
Oi muchim roughly translates to ‘seasoned cucumber’ which aptly describes this simple dish.
This recipe is very refreshing and is the perfect side dish to serve in the summer. The cucumber gives it a wonderful crunchy texture, while they are also coated in a slightly spicy sauce.
The cucumbers should be cut to about 1/8 inch thick, this way you get a perfect bite of cucumber to the sauce.
The sauce itself has soy sauce, salt, and sugar to give it that classic sweet and salty taste but the inclusion of vinegar provides a slight tartness.
There is also gochugaru for the spice and some chopped-up scallions for extra flavor and color.
6. Spicy Korean Tofu
This recipe creates wonderful braised tofu that is absolutely packed full of flavor. This is because tofu is notorious for absorbing the flavors it is cooked in.
Ideally, you want to use firm tofu in this recipe as it means that it can hold its shape while cooking.
The sauce is savory and relatively spicy being made from soy sauce, sugar, garlic, gochugaru, and green onion.
7. Kelp Noodle Salad
Kelp noodles are made from an extract created after steaming kelp so they are almost clear in color, gluten-free, and low in calories.
These noodles absorb flavor well which is good for this dish which comes out slightly sweet and tangy.
The kelp noodles are served with cucumber, carrot, and imitation crab sticks to provide color to the dish and a crunchy texture.
The sauce is made from mayonnaise, mustard, and sugar which give the noodles a slight spice keeping them light and delicious.
8. Quick And Easy Spicy Korean Coleslaw
Even if you don’t like coleslaw, this could be the dish for you. This is because it is less of a coleslaw and more of a salad.
The main difference between this recipe and regular coleslaw is the sauce.
This recipe uses no mayonnaise instead the sauce has garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and gochugaru. You can adjust the amount of gochugaru based on your spice tolerance.
The name for this recipe comes from the vegetables it uses. You can use a bag of coleslaw mix to save time or chop up your carrot, onions, and cabbage by yourself.
It is best to eat this dish the same day so it retains its crunchiness. But you can leave it until the next day for a more developed flavor, but a softer texture.
9. Korean Candied Sweet Potatoes (Goguma Mattang)
This recipe seems more of a dessert than a side dish. That is because it is made with a thick caramel-like sauce that gives the sweet potatoes a crispy finish. The sweet sauce works perfectly with rice as well.
The deep-fried chunks of sweet potato are soft which works well with the caramelized sugar. Some people use corn syrup or honey instead of sugar but the outside won’t be as crispy if you do so.
This dish is best consumed warm and garnished with crushed nuts or sesame seeds. It is super easy to make and produces a sweet and sticky side dish.
10. Korean Lettuce Salad (Sangchoo Geotjeori)
This super simple and light side dish is perfect for summer.
It is made from an assortment of greens such as lettuce, perilla leaves, and chrysanthemum leaves. They are all served with a slightly sweet and salty sauce.
The sauce includes vinegar for a subtle tanginess and also has gochugaru to make it slightly spicy.
11. Steamed Chilies With Shishito Peppers
Shishito peppers are small, green, and wrinkled and provide a mild spice to them. This makes them ideal for steaming.
After steaming the chilies they become tender and soft with a slight crisp to the outside as they are tossed in flour beforehand.
While the chilies themselves aren’t too spicy, you can make them spicier with the sauce. The sauce is made from soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and gochugaru.
12. Gochujang Sesame Broccoli
In this recipe the broccoli isn’t boiled. Instead, it is roasted so that it remains crunchy and has a deeper flavor. When it is boiled broccoli comes out mushy and somewhat bland.
The broccoli is cooked in sesame oil, garlic, and gochujang paste. Gochujang paste is bright red in color and spicy, the spice level depends on the brand of paste.
The dish is served with sesame seeds to give it a little texture difference.
13. Sweet And Sour Radish Salad (Musaengchae)
This recipe is suitable for a paleo diet. It creates a crunchy texture with the radish and the sauce is tangy, sweet, and spicy.
The tanginess comes from the apple cider vinegar whereas the sweetness is from the coconut sugar. Gochugaru is used for flavor and spice.
As the radish salad sits the flavors develop and incorporate so it’s a good idea to make a large batch so you can have it over a few days.
14. Crispy Korean Pan-Fried Tofu (Dubu Buchim)
Tofu is a wonderful plant-based protein and this recipe keeps it chewy and soft but gives it a crispy outside.
This recipe uses firm tofu so that it crisps better, but is softer than extra firm tofu. You don’t need to press the water out of the tofu which saves time.
The tofu is accompanied by a soy chili drizzle which is made from soy sauce, gochugaru, sugar, green onion, and garlic.
Shrimp powder is also added to the sauce in this recipe to enhance the flavor but you can remove it if you want your dish to be vegetarian.
15. Korean Noodle Stir-Fry (Japchae)
This recipe is very popular because it is so customizable. You can use any vegetables or proteins you like so it is a great way to use up any leftovers.
Traditionally japchae is made with sweet potato noodles, also known as glass noodles.
These noodles are made from sweet potato starch and are almost transparent in color. Glass noodles are chewy and have a slightly sweet taste and are a popular gluten-free replacement.
The vegetables used in this specific recipe are mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, onions, spinach, and garlic. They are all cooked in a sauce of maple syrup, sesame oil, and soy sauce.
16. Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Soup (Sundubu Jjigae)
Soft tofu soup is the ultimate comfort food. You get chunks of silken soft tofu in a spicy broth.
You can customize the vegetables and toppings in this recipe with popular choices being mushrooms, green onions, and dumplings.
People also commonly crack a fresh egg on top of the soup so that way it can cook in the hot broth.
The broth is made out of anchovy stock so that it has a very rich flavor and then gochugaru is added for spice.
17. Quick Steamed Perilla Leaves (Kkaennip Jjim)
Perilla leaves are common in Korean cuisine and are quite fragrant and taste slightly like mint. They can be eaten raw, fermented, pickled, or steamed and are perfect with rice.
This recipe makes steaming perilla leaves super easy by doing it in the microwave. It can be done in less than 2 minutes and you get super flavorful perilla leaves.
The perilla leaves are steamed with dried anchovies for added flavor and are served with a sauce of garlic, sugar, gochugaru, and soy sauce.
18. Steamed Eggplant Side Dish (Gaji Namul)
This recipe is great for the summer when eggplants are in season. You want to use slender eggplants that are a rich purple color because they have tender skin and sweeter flesh.
When steaming the eggplants you don’t want to overcook them into mush but still, cook them until soft. It should only be about 3 minutes of steaming to achieve this.
The eggplants are flavored with scallions, soy sauce, gochugaru, garlic, sesame oil, and sugar.
19. Spicy Korean Rice Cakes (Tteokbokki)
Tteokbokki is a popular Korean street food. It is made from cylindrical rice cakes that are coated in a bright red/orange sauce. Fish cakes are also commonly included in this dish.
The sauce is both sweet and spicy being made from gochugaru, gochujang, sugar, soy sauce, and garlic.
Popular additions to tteokbokki are cheese, eggs, and green onions.
20. Korean Seasoned Dried Squid (Ojingeochae Muchim)
This recipe uses shredded dried squid which by itself also makes a perfect snack. They are salty, and fishy, and make a great replacement for a bag of chips.
The squid is tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from honey and gochujang.
This recipe can keep for up to a month so don’t be afraid to make a large batch.
21. Korean Mung Bean Sprout Salad (Sukju-Namul Muchim)
Mung bean sprouts are used in many Korean dishes. They are crispy, crunchy, and refreshing.
Mung bean sprouts don’t keep very well so you ideally want to make this recipe right before it is served. Make sure it is all consumed over the next couple of days.
The mung bean sprouts are only boiled for 2 minutes so that they stay crispy but any bacteria is killed off.
Mung bean sprouts have a relatively subtle flavor so this recipe flavors them with garlic, green onion, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
22. Sweet And Salty Soybeans (Kongjaban)
This soybean recipe produces a result that is flavorful and isn’t mushy like store-bought versions.
The black soybeans are soaked overnight and then boiled until they are slightly soft.
The soybeans are then further boiled in a sauce made of soy sauce, sugar, and maple syrup so the soybeans have a sweet and salty flavor to them.
The sauce is reduced into almost a syrup so that the soybeans are completely coated and almost sticky.
The flavor of the syrup incorporates into the beans over time so they get better over the next few days.
23. Corn Cheese
There are no better flavors than cheesy and buttery, and this recipe provides both. You get a baked corn and cheese casserole that can work as a dip, spread, or simply enjoy by itself.
The casserole has mayonnaise in it so that it has a creamy texture and then sugar is also included for a slight sweetness.
Bell peppers are added to the corn cheese for some extra flavor and texture as well as to provide hints of color to the mostly yellow dish.
The cheese used in this recipe is mozzarella cheese which is super creamy and gives that iconic cheese pull.
24. Korean Spinach Side Dish (Sigeumchi Namul)
For this recipe, the main green is spinach but you can use essentially any green you like. The spinach works well as it is light and can hold the flavors of the sauce well.
The spinach is quickly blanched and then squeezed of water so that it retains its freshness while being dry enough to stick to the sauce.
The sauce itself isn’t spicy and is made from minced garlic, sesame oil, sugar, and scallions.
25. Korean Sausage Stir Fry
This sausage stir-fry is ridiculously easy to make. You can use up any vegetables you like so it is a great recipe to use up any leftovers. This recipe is perfect for children as it has a lot of fun colors and the small sausages are fun.
The sausages used are traditionally Korean-style mini Vienna sausages that have a smokey flavor.
However, if you can’t find these sausages then you can use any mini sausages you like. Just make sure you cut slices into the sausage skin so that way they don’t explode while cooking.
You want to make sure the vegetables, that are bell peppers and onions in this recipe, are still crunchy so you don’t want to overcook them.
Some recipes include sheet fish cakes that bring an umami flavor that works well with the sweet soy sauce in the stir-fry.
26. Meat and Vegetable Skewers (Sanjeok)
These skewers are typically served during occasions where there is something to celebrate. They are comprised of thinly sliced meat and vegetables that are lightly fried.
The ingredients vary depending on who is making them but common vegetables are carrot, pickled radish, and green onion and common meats are imitation crab, ham, and steak.
Sometimes the meat is marinated in a soy sauce marinade.
The use of different vegetables makes the skewers super colorful.
Toothpicks are used to hold all the meats and vegetables together as they are coated in flour and egg before being fried.
This gives them a light crisp that pairs well with the different textures of the meat and vegetables.
27. Sweet Crispy Mushrooms (Beoseot Gangjeong)
The mushrooms in this recipe are dried shiitake mushrooms as they pack a strong flavor and are high in protein.
When they are deep-fried they get a slight crisp to them as they are coated in potato starch beforehand.
Bell pepper is also cooked with the mushrooms for a slightly sweet taste and a bright color.
The sauce that the mushrooms are cooked in is sweet, sour, and spicy being made from gochujang sauce and rice syrup.
28. Spicy Bellflower Root Salad (Doraji Muchim)
Bellflower root is commonly found in Asian cuisine and it has a crunchy texture. You can use fresh bellflower roots or dried ones that are easier to find.
If you are using fresh bellflower roots then you need to thoroughly wash them in salt water to remove the bitter taste. For dried bellflower roots, they will need to be soaked overnight.
The sauce for this salad is spicy and tangy being made from gochugaru, sugar, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and garlic.
29. Korean Egg Roll (Gyeran Mari)
This is similar to a rolled omelet and is a fantastic grab-and-go snack as well as a side dish. You don’t need a square pan to make them but it does make rolling them easier.
The egg is mixed with dashi broth in this recipe but you can use any broth of your choice. This is to add extra flavor and to make the eggs fluffier.
The egg rolls are also packed full of vegetables and meats including carrots, green onions, ham, and crab meat.
When cooking the omelet you can add cheese into the middle of it so that when you cut into it you get a river of cheese flowing out.
30. Korean Fernbrake Side Dish (Gosari Namul)
Fernbrake is an edible fern that tastes salty and garlicky. It is quite earthy and softer than you would expect when cooked.
It is much easier to find dried fernbrake to cook with so you will need to soak it overnight to rehydrate it.
The fernbrake has a meaty texture when cooked with soy sauce and garlic as this recipe suggests.
31. Stir-Fried Dried Anchovies with Almonds (Myeolchi Bokkeum)
This side dish is a unique flavor combination of anchovies and almonds. It is easy to make, packed full of flavor and is quite healthy.
Since this dish is stir-fried, the anchovies stay crispy and pair beautifully with the crunch of the almonds.
The anchovies and almonds are cooked in soy sauce and corn syrup but you can add sriracha for a bit of heat if you like.
While it may seem like an odd choice, adding mayonnaise to the sauce helps to make it creamy and binds all the ingredients together.
32. Spicy Stir-Fried Octopus (Nakji-Bokkeum)
This recipe is perfect for seafood lovers. The octopus used in this recipe is small so you can use a whole one to make your side dish.
To allow the octopus meat to be tender you need to thoroughly massage it beforehand.
The octopus is cooked with ginger, onions, green chili peppers, and green onions for added flavors and textures. The green chili peppers also add extra heat.
The sauce with the octopus is spicy and thick being made out of gochugaru, soy sauce, sugar, and rice syrup. This also makes it slightly sweet which pairs well with the octopus.
Banchan are typically served with a bowl of rice and are flavorful and relatively healthy. They are made from various vegetables and spices that can be customized to your tastebuds.
Most of these recipes you can make in under an hour so they are perfect for a last-minute meal.
Even if you aren’t cooking a whole meal, one of these side dishes makes a tasty snack to tide you over to your next meal.
So, next time you are deciding what to cook, why not try one of these simple recipes to add some diverse flavors to your diet.
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