10 Essential Korean Side Dish Recipes
Whether you're building a full meal from a number of dishes or looking to complement a main protein with a flavorful side, a variety of Korean side dishes offer delicious alternatives to simple vegetables. Traditional Korean cuisine is well-known for its many side dishes (or banchan) that are often served family style for sharing at the table. These side dishes are not just considered to be after-thoughts or additions, but are essential to the meal itself. Korean cuisine utilizes a number of distinctive ingredients like soy sauce, fermented soybean paste, gochujang, fish sauce, and many other unique elements that make these dishes so mouthwatering.
Kongnamool (Korean Soybean Sprouts)
Kimchi is served with almost every meal in Korean cooking. This spicy fermented cabbage is considered an absolutely fundamental component of Korean cuisine. Kimchi is typically made with cabbage but can be made with radish or other vegetables, and can also be altered to be spicier.
Korean Style Seaweed Soup
This Korean-style seaweed soup (or miyeok guk) is sometimes referred to as Korean birthday soup because many Koreans consume this on their birthdays. It is touted for its many traditional health benefits and often eaten by new mothers to help support recovery and breast milk production.
This colorful, nutrient-rich dish is chock full of vegetables and protein. While this version is vegetarian, many bibimbap dishes include beef or chicken, which means you could adapt this recipe to suit your wants and needs.
Refreshing Korean Cucumber Salad
A refreshing addition to rice and spicy meats, this Korean cucumber salad keeps its crunch by calling for the cucumber slices to be salted first and left to drain off any excess water. Korean red pepper powder (or gochugaru) adds an aromatic kick.
Chap Chee Noodles
Cellophane noodles, also called glass noodles, serve as the base of this savory dish. While it's already filled with lots of delicious vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and spinach, you could also add yellow onion and shiitake mushroom for even more flavor and nutritional value.
Korean Saewoo Bokkeumbap (Shrimp Fried Rice)
The key to really good fried rice is in using leftover rice. It's even better if it has been refrigerated from the night before so the grains have time to firm up--this will keep your fried rice from ending up mushy. This version, with plenty of vegetables and shrimp, pairs especially well with kimchi.
Kimchi Jun (Kimchi Pancake) & Dipping Sauce
This kimchi pancake is a Korean family favorite. It's crispy and spicy and has all of that great fermented flavor from the kimchi itself. This is considered a comforting side dish, often served with rice.
A delicious way to incorporate zucchini into your meal, this Korean-style squash utilizes essential ingredients like soy sauce and sesame oil to create a savory vegetable side that would pair perfectly with steamed rice and kimchi.
Korean BBQ Short Ribs (Gal-Bi)
While this side dish doesn't necessarily fit into the traditional banchan offerings, it could certainly fill in as a delicious side dish option at any barbeque. Sugar and vinegar combine here to create a sweet and sticky marinade for these short ribs.