Korean Side Dishes

When dining out at any Korean restaurant you will be offered a variety of free side dishes that will be delivered before your main meal. In Korean language these are known as “Banchan”.  These dishes can be eaten and replenished by your waiter or waitress for no additional charge. All the side dishes you get will vary, except one -kimchi. There are hundreds of Korean side dishes, but here are a few of my favorites.

Kimchi (Fermented Cabbage)

Kimchi will be offered with every meal you get at the local Korean restaurant. Koreans I don’t think would view this as a side dish, but rather as an essential component to every meal.  However, for the purposes of categorization Kimchi is usually offered in the same quantity as other side dishes. Kimchi is an aquired taste and you may not particularly care for it at first, but I suggest to try it more than once.

Kimchi can be made using a variety of vegetables including napa cabbage, cucumber, radish, and green onions. When most people think of kimchi they think of the standard napa cabbage version also known as ‘baechu kimchi’. Kimchi is usually made by separating the leaves from the napa cabbage and thoroughly covering them in a mixture of seasoning. The seasoning usually includes brine, chopped radish, garlic, ginger and fish sauce. After the napa cabbage is thoroughly seasoned it is placed in a jar and allowed to ferment for 2-3 weeks. Some Koreans argue the older the kimchi the more healthy properties it will have.

Myulchi Bokkeum (Dried Anchovies)

If you have an aversion to crunching down on tiny fish with their heads still attached this dish may not be for you, but it is a very common side dish within Korea. This dish can be made in a variety of ways, but usually is cooked in a mixture of vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds ginger and garlic. Sometimes gochujang or hot peppers might be added. The anchovies themselves come out quite sticky from the honey and it is relatively unnoticeable that you are eating the anchovies whole.

Manul Changachi (Pickled Garlic)

This side dish is made up of garlic cloves that are pickled in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sugar. These are a good crunchy snack to eat while you’re waiting for your food to be delivered.

Odaeng (Fish Meat in Sauce)

Odaeng is processed fish meat usually made of pollock. When served as a side dish the fish is usually cut into rectangular strips. Generally when you see odaeng it is covered in gochujang and other seasoning. Although, there are a variety of sauces it can be cooked in, too numerous to mention.

GyeRanMalYee (Egg Omelets)

This Korean style omelet is actually made in rectangular blocks and cut up to be served as a side dish. There isn’t anything particularly Korean about this type of banchan other than the cooking technique. It is made by starting out flat slowly rolling it into layers giving it its shape.