Korean Side Dishes - Banchan
I’m here to talk about how Banchan can and will change your life! Banchan, or little side dishes, that are almost always accompanied with any Korean meal add and compliment flavor while eating. They act as condiments, compliments and add sharp contrast to the main entree making them integral to an enjoyable Korean entree.
The array of Banchan that can be served are unlimited! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of variations you can serve or add to the meal and the options are abundant! Serve as many as you’d like. Add cold banchan, hot banchan, soups, sauces… whatever. The choice is yours.
The recipes I have here are simple, easy to make and very popular so you are likely to find them in any Korean restaurant or served up alongside a sizzling Bulgogi dish.
Many of these side dishes can be bought or prepped ahead and dished out or warmed up right before serving. And if you want good luck, serve an odd number of Banchan! I served 5 with my Gochujang Chicken - Rice, cucumber salad, sauteed sesame broccoli, kimchi and a pickled radish and onion salad.
Some recommendations I’d like to give you before starting:
GET KOREAN CHILI FLAKES - AKA Gochugaru: My favorite brand is Mother-in-Law’s Chili Flakes which can be found online, here.
MAKE MOST OF IT A DAY AHEAD - cold dishes such as the cucumber salad can be made a day before. If you’d like a fresher salad, just whip up the dressing and slice up the cucumbers but toss it all 10-15 min before serving
USE DAY OLD RICE AND MAKE IT CRISPY - I used brown rice in my recipe and didn’t make the traditional sticky, crispy rice only because I wanted a healthier option. If you’d like to make a traditional Korean sticky rice just make rice as directions allow. Reserve about 1 cup and smash down in a hot, oiled skillet and sear until the bottom is golden and crispy… top a regular bowl of rice with the crispy bits!
OKAY - are you ready to make Banchan?
Korean Side dishes - Banchan
Prep – 20 to 30 min/cold dishes can be made a day ahead
1 English Cucumber – skin on, thinly sliced
2 Tbs Low Sodium Soy/Tamari
2 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1 Tbs Honey or Sugar
1tsp dark sesame oil
½ tsp Gochugaru Korean chili flakes
¼ tsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tbs green onions to garnish
Mix all wet ingredients in a small bowl, set aside. In a serving bowl, toss cucumbers in chili flakes and sesame seeds. Pour dressing on top and mix to combine. Garnish with green onions. *add more chili flakes for spicier salad. Serve immediately or let marinate for 15 min before serving.
Pickled Radish and Onion:
1 large watermelon/white radish – thinly sliced into discs
½ white onion sliced into thin rings
3 Tbs Rice Vinegar
2 Tbs sugar or honey
Mix sugar/honey with vinegar until completely dissolved. Add white onion and Radish and let marinate at least 15 min, mixing occasionally. Serve with other Banchan.
Sauteed Broccoli with Sesame and Garlic
1 Broccoli crown – chopped into florets
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic – minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp light sesame oil or olive oil
Heat a medium skillet on Medium-High Heat. Add oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add broccoli and sauté until tops are slightly charred in spots, about 5 min. Add garlic and salt to taste and sauté until broccoli is cooked through (tender crisp), about 3 min. Add sesame seeds and toss to combine. Add pepper to taste. Serve in a small bowl accompanied with rice and other banchan.
Rice as Banchan – Serve Korean entrees with sticky white rice, crispy Korean rice or brown rice for a healthier option!
Kimchi - I buy the best Kimchi I can find and so can you! Go to your local Asian grocer or a natural foods store such as Sprouts or Whole Foods… there are plenty of options to choose from
Other popular Banchan options:
Seasoned Bean Sprouts
Stir Fried Mushrooms
Stir Fried baby Bok Choy