200+ Best Korean Side Dishes

Original blog post (with audio): https://ling-app.com/ko/korean-side-dishes/

Are you ready for mouth-watering traditional Korean side dishes 반찬 (banchan)? Here is a list that you can try when eating Korean food. Aside from delicious Korean cooking, Korean side dishes complete the whole dining experience. It’s very unusual to see a Korean meal without even a single traditional side dish on the table. Today we will discover some Korean side dishes served with Korean BBQ. We will also learn some Korean side dish recipes that you can prepare at home. If you are ready for all that and more, let’s dive into it!

What Are Korean Side Dishes?

반찬 (Banchan)

When you’re in a Korean BBQ or any other Korean restaurant, you will be first served small plates with different snacks that are usually vegetables seasoned. These small dishes are called Korean side dishes.

Banchan (반찬) are little side dishes customarily served with rice and are designed to be shared by everyone at the meal. They’re more like small complimentary snacks within a meal than actual appetizers. Most Korean side dishes have staple ingredients like vegetables, sesame seeds, fish sauce, sesame oil, green onions, Korean red pepper flakes, and more.

Koreans Love For Side Dishes: Where It All Started?

Did you know that Koreans are one of the highest consumers of vegetables? This is because for 700 years, starting from the era of the Three Kingdoms, Koreans were influenced by strict Buddhist practices. Because of this, they don’t consume meat for a long time. Vegetables have been their only form of food, so the Koreans adapted and created different recipes. Korean side dishes or Korean banchan have always been a part of Korean culture.

Koreans also learned how to preserve their vegetables because of the harsh winters that they are experiencing. This is why fermentation is greatly used in Korean side dishes and Korean main dishes.

Today, even if Koreans also love meat, like pork belly, you cannot remove vegetable dishes and side dishes in a typical meal. It has and will always be part of their culture as Korean.

Types Of Korean Side Dishes

Fun fact, in a typical Korean meal, the table setting is named after the number of side dishes: 3 cheop (삼첩) for three side dishes, 5 cheop (오첩) for five, 7 cheop (칠첩) for seven and 9 cheop (구첩) for nine. The number of Korean side dishes served at a dining table should be an odd number. They believe that serving even several Korean side dishes will bring bad luck. But, in the Korean royal cuisine, there are 12 Korean banchan dishes that are served.

Now, let us discover different Korean side dishes that are typically served in Korean meals.

Kimchi (김치)

Kimchi is a term that refers to salty and fermented vegetables. It is typically fermented in earthenware pots and stored underground to avoid being exposed to the cold winters, which can cause them to freeze and to keep the fermentation process from being hurried unduly.

There are hundreds of different kimchi recipes that use a variety of vegetables. The most popular kimchi Korean side dish is the napa cabbage kimchi.

Namul (나물)

Namul is the type of Korean side dish that refers to edible grass, leaves, herbs, and vegetables that are steamed, blanched, marinated. Koreans usually use green onion, sesame oil, sesame seeds, minced garlic, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes) to season this side dish.

Jorim (조림)

Jorim is a slow-cooked Korean dish created by simmering vegetables, meat, seafood, fish, or tofu in seasoned broth until the liquid has been absorbed and reduced.

Jeol-in (절인)

Pickled side dishes are also common in Korean cuisine. Pickling is done by adding vinegar to the vegetables go through a rapid pickling process overnight. When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, they have a shelf life of around 2 weeks.

Bokkeum (볶음)

In Korean cuisine, bokkeum refers to stir-fried meals with a sauce such as fish sauce and soy sauce.

Famous Korean Side Dishes Perfect For Korean BBQ

Now, let us discover different Korean side dishes typically served in Korean meals and are perfect for Korean BBQ.

1. Traditional Napa Cabbage Kimchi

통배추김치 (Tongbaechu-kimchi)

This is the most popular Korean side dish in Korean cuisine. It is also one of the easy Korean side dishes anyone can make. You can see Koreans partner this with almost any Korean food.

It’s easy to make homemade kimchi using napa cabbage. Here are the ingredients that you’ll need:

  • 1 Large Napa Cabbage
  • 1 cup Korean coarse sea salt (for making kimchi)
  • 1 pound Korean radish
  • 5 cups of water
  • 3–4 scallions
  • 1/4 Korean pear
  • 1 piece dashima
  • 1 tbsp of glutinous rice powder
  • 1/2 cup gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes)
  • 3–4 raw shrimps
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp myulchiaekjeot (fish sauce)
  • 1/4 cup salted shrimp
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup water or dashima

2. Korean Soybean Sprout Side Dish

콩나물 무침 (Kongnamul Muchim)

The Korean soybean sprout is a famous Korean side dish that you can typically see at a Korean dining table. This easy-to-prepare side dish is slightly crunchy and well-seasoned with garlic, sesame oil, scallions, and salt. It also has a subtle flavor, but you can make it spicy if you want.

3. Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad

오이무침 (Oi Muchim)

The spicy cucumber salad is a Korean side dish with a sweet, salty, crunchy, spicy, and tangy flavor. Pickled cocktail cucumbers and Korean red pepper flakes provide flavor to this simple dish.

4. Korean Zucchini Side Dish

호박 볶음 (Hobak Bokkeum)

This sweet and soft stir-fried Korean zucchini side dish is perfect for Korean meals, especially meat dishes. It is made with traditional Korean ingredients like medium zucchini, saeujeot (salted shrimp), garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, cooking oil, and scallions.

5. Korean Braised Potatoes

감자조림 (Gamja Jorim)

If you’re a potato lover, the Korean Braised Potatoes side dish is perfect for you. This Korean side dish is made with baby potatoes coated in a sweet and savory glaze. To make Korean Braised Potatoes, you need mini/baby potatoes, vegetable (or any neutral) oil, soy sauce, honey, garlic, gochugaru (Korean chili flakes ), water, sesame seeds, and green onions.

6. Korean Steamed Eggplant Side Dish

가지 나물 (Gaji Namul)

Gaji Namul is also one of the easiest Korean side dishes to prepare. It is a healthy side dish because it is made of steamed eggplant that is well-seasoned.

7. Korean Spinach Side Dish

시금치나물 (Sigeumchi Namul)

Another side dish that is one of the Korean staples is the Spinach Side Dish. This side dish is best paired with many Korean dishes. It is made of baby spinach, scallion, guk ganjang (soup soy sauce), garlic, sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. If you want it to be spicy, you can add gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste).

8. Korean Pickles In Soy Sauce

장아찌 (Jangajji)

Jangajji is another common side dish usually served at the Korean dining table. It has salty, umami, sweet, crunchy, and spicy flavors. Creating jangajji is simple: prepare a brine using soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar, bring it to a boil, then pour it over crisp and sturdy raw veggies to marinade.

Although jangajji is traditionally cooked with perilla leaves, cucumbers, garlic scapes, chayote squash, moo radish, and chile peppers, you can use any veggies that are in season and accessible.

9. Korean Radish Salad/Korean Spicy Radish Salad

무생채 (Musaengchae)

Musaengchae is a radish-based meal. There are various varieties, such as sweet and sour radish salad and non-spicy radish salad. The Korean radish used in this side dish is similar to the Daikon radish of Japan, but it has quite a different texture and taste. The most famous and common variation served is the spicy radish salad.

10. Korean Steamed Eggs

Gyeran Jjim (계란찜)

The Korean steamed eggs are one of the crowd’s favorites. It is a Korean side dish made with eggs, broth, or water and seasoned with salt, sesame oil, and green onions. It is served in a pot to contain the heat. It is also called volcano steamed eggs because of the volcanic cone shape combined with the steam that releases from the eggs.

Other Easy Korean Side Dishes (Banchan)

Go Beyond Korean Side Dishes, Learn Korean Now!

Pretty sure that you’ll satisfy your taste buds with the crave-worthy side dishes you have learned above. But, your Korean dining experience will never be complete without discovering some essential Korean vocabulary like ordering food, Korean food, and more. But, if you’re serious about learning Korean beyond just Korean food, Ling App is the perfect partner for you.

With the well-developed lessons and features, Ling App will give you a Korean language learning experience that is fun, engaging, and meaningful. Since it can be downloaded from your phone or accessed online, you can learn Korean anytime and anywhere you wish. So, be in a hurry and start your lesson in Korean with Ling App now!



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