If you’ve been to a Korean restaurant you are no doubt familiar with all the little side dishes that come with your meal. Know as Banchan these side dishes can transform the whole eating experience.
Korean meals usually have multiple components such as rice, soup, a main dish, kimchi and a selection of other side dishes. Even the plainest meals will have a selection of Banchan.
The Kimchi can come in a variety of ways using different ingredients. Cabbage, radish and cucumber are popular, but you might also be served kimchi made from Korean chives, or even mustard leaves. Kimchi is usually fermented but can also be served ‘fresh’ particularly in Spring and early Summer.
Namul are vegetables that have been cooked or marinated and then seasoned. Bokkeum is something such as pork, octopus, or mushrooms stir fried with a sauce, while Jorim is something simmered in a broth. A fairly common version is tofu simmered in soy sauce.
Korean versions of potato salad and pasta salad also show up from time to time among the more traditional Banchan. Jjim are steamed seasoned eggs, or steamed fish, and Japchae are glass noodles.
Jeon are savory pancakes made with green onions, or kimchi, potatoes or even seafood.
Danmuji is the yellow pickled radish that comes with many meals, once we even got it with pizza.
Banchan are usually carefully chosen with a variety of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty flavors presented in order to enhance the meal. In some cases just adding an aged kimchi to rice can be wonderful, at other times Japchae can be the perfect cool down companion to a spicy meal.
Banchan are presented on the table for all to share so next time try all of them even if you’re not quite sure what they are and you’ll have fun food adventure.
Our temple food had so many dishes and courses we didn’t know what was the ‘main’ meal and what were Bachan, but everything was interesting with some items being spectacular. These are a very few of the many choices that kept coming in a never ending stream of colors, tastes and textures.
Have a great day everyone.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to original owners, Elizabeth Marzec, Kenneth Kim, and Debora Marzec.
From a meal last week, we had no room on the table so we had to make do with a Banchan plate!