- Korean Pancake (Jeon)
- Braised Potatoes (Gamja Jorim)
- Korean Fish Cake (Odeng)
- Dried Seaweed (Gim)
- Braised Lotus Roots (Yeonkeun Jorim)
- Korean Egg Roll (Gyeran Mari)
- Fried Spicy Tofu (Dubu Jorim)
- Radish Kimchi (Kkakdugi)
- Spicy Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)
Everyone knows about Korean BBQ and Korean food in general. However, amazing side dishes are what makes Korean food extra special. Korean side dishes (Banchan) are an essential part of any Korean meal. They are not just for decoration or even appetizers. They are eaten with your main course along with rice and soup. We have selected the best Korean side dishes that everyone needs to try when visiting Korea. So take a break from Korean fried chicken and beer and try some Korean side. Best of all most, of these side dishes, are vegan and can be enjoyed all year round.
The top Korean side dish is Kimchi and there really is no dispute about it. If you go to any Korean restaurant you will have kimchi as a side dish. Kimchi is spicy fermented cabbage made of chili powder, garlic, ginger, red pepper, salt, and sugar. There are actually over 100 different types of kimchi. 1.5 billion tons of Kimchi are consumed in South Korea every year. All bring a lot of health benefits and are liked to weight loss, healthy skin, and improving one’s digestive system. It is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods.
Best Kimchi Recipe
- Cut the cabbage lengthwise through the stem into quarters.
- Salt the cabbage. About 2 tablespoons per cabbage then massage the salt into the cabbage. Add enough water to cover the cabbage then weigh it down with something heavy. Leave it alone for 2 hours.
- Rinse and drain the cabbage 3 times. Then let it drain by itself for 30 minutes.
- Make the spice paste. Mix 1 tablespoon of grated garlic, 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, and 3 tablespoons of Korean red pepper flakes.
- Combine the cabbage and spice paste. Add in some radish and scallions.
- Mix thoroughly. Put on some gloves and mix it well getting all the leaves of the cabbage individually.
- Pack the kimchi into the jar. Pack it in very tight. Make sure there is at least 1 inch of space at the top. Close the lid.
- Let it ferment for 3 days at room temperature.
- It is ready to be refrigerated and eaten.
Korean Pancake (Jeon)
“Jeon” means pancake in Korean. However, Koreans don’t eat jeon for only breakfast, it is eaten at all meals as a side dish. It is made with flour, egg, and can include vegetables, meat, for seafood. Some of the top jeons are kimchi jeon, potato jeon, scallion jeon (pajeon), and seafood jeon. It goes great as a complimentary dish when drinking alcohol (makgeolli) in Korea.
Best Kimchi Jeon Recipe
- combine 2 cups of fermented kimchi that have been chopped into tiny pieces with 2 tablespoons of the kimchi juice. Then add half a cup of chopped scallions, a teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and coat the pan (12 inches).
- Put the kimchi batter into the pan and spread it around until the whole pan is covered.
- Try at medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Flip it and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add more oil if needed.
Braised Potatoes (Gamja Jorim)
While America has french fries, Korean’s use potatoes to make Gamja Jorim which is a braised potato side dish. It is braised in sweet soy sauce until they are sticky and chewy. Gamja Jorim goes perfectly with steamed white rice. It is very easy to make as you only need potatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and garlic.
Best Braised Potato Recipe
- Cut 3 potatoes into small cubes. Cut 1 onion as well.
- Make braising sauce by mixing 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of corn syrup, 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 3/4 cup of water
- In a non-stick pan, add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil.
- Add the cut potatoes and onion and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes stirring often.
- Then add the braising sauce and bring it to a boil over high heat. Then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the cover and raise the heat to medium and stir for an extra 2 minutes.
- Add in 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon of roasted sesame seeds and mix.
- Refrigerate for 1 day before eating.
Korean Fish Cake (Odeng)
Most Korean side dishes come with stir-fried fish cake. It is called “Odeng” and restaurants use them as side dishes because they are very cheap to make and easy to cook. Odeng is typically made in a big batch and can last up to a week in the refrigerator. It can be made spicy or non-spicy and goes perfectly with kimchi and rice.
Best Korean Fish Cake Recipe
- Get 2 Korean fish cake sheets and cut them into strips.
- Slice an onion and green bell peppers into thin slices.
- In a bowl add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
- Heat up the pan with 2 tablespoons of cooking oil.
- Add all the vegetables and cook them for 1-minute stirring often on medium heat. Then add the fish cake and stir for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the mixture and cook for a minute stirring often.
- Refrigerate for 1 day for best taste.
Dried Seaweed (Gim)
Koreans love dried seaweed which they call “Gim”. It is roasted seaweed that is cut into a rectangle and used as a side dish. You can use it to make your own kimbap! It offers a lot of flavor for such a thin cut of dried seaweed that it is perfect with rice and a dab of soy sauce. It is coated on one side with oil and seasoning salt and roasted on high heat. Furthermore, Gim is a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Best Dried Seaweed Recipe
- Combine the cooking oil and sesame oil in a small bowl.
- Get a small brush and brush a thin layer of the oils on the Gim sheet.
- Sprinkle some salt over the gim.
- Place the gim in a pan and cook for 30 seconds on each side until it turns green.
- Remove from heat and cut the sheet into smaller pieces.
Braised Lotus Roots (Yeonkeun Jorim)
This might be the most controversial Korean side dish on this list. Some love it and some hate it. Some might not have ever tried a lotus root before. It is called “Yeongeun Jorim” and it is not only sweet but crunchy as well! It is a cross between undercooked potato and a radish. Therefore, most restaurants in Korea will not serve this as a side dish as it is served on special occasions because it takes a long time to make. This is because the roots have to be soaked in water for some time before braising them.
Best Braised Lotus Roots Recipe
- Peel the lotus root and slice them into 1/4 inch pieces.
- Add the lotus root slices into a medium-size pot and add enough water to cover them.
- Add a tablespoon of vinegar and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling cook for an additional 8 minutes.
- Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Put the drained lotus roots back into the pot and add the raised sauce which is a mixture of 1 cup of water, 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Bring it to a boil.
- Boil for 15 minutes stirring often until it has 3-4 tablespoons of the sauce remaining.
- Add 2 tablespoons of corn syrup and 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
- Turn off heat and add some sesame seeds then serve.
Korean Egg Roll (Gyeran Mari)
Korean egg rolls or “Gyeran Mari” is a popular Korean side dish because they are very easy to make. It is one of the most pretty looking Korean side dishes around. It is both salty and savory and goes perfectly with ketchup. You can add all sorts of ingredients to the egg roll such as carrots, peppers, onions, and even SPAM!
Best Korean Egg Roll Recipe
- Break 5 eggs into a bowl. Remove one yolk. Mix the rest well.
- Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1/4 tablespoon of salt and whisk them well.
- Add 1 tablespoon of chopped green onion and 1 tablespoon of chopped onion.
- Heat a pan on medium-low heat and add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil.
- Once the oil is hot reduce the heat to low and pour out a thin layer of the egg mixture.
- Once the top layer starts to cook add in 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese.
- Fold the egg over and over until you have a rolled-up long piece of an egg roll.
- Repeat the same process until the egg mixture is gone.
Fried Spicy Tofu (Dubu Jorim)
Koreans love tofu which is why it is understandable that they made a side dish out of it. The spicy fried tofu is great because of the sauce. It is a blend of soy sauce, chili powder, garlic, and sesame oil. You can adjust the spice of the sauce as you feel. Furthermore, it is a great side dish because it tastes better after refrigeration.
Best Fried Spicy Tofu Recipe
- Slice 300 grams of tofu and cut it into squares.
- Fry it in a pan with some oil until each side is golden brown.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of gochujang, and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook 1 teaspoon of garlic and 1/2 chopped onions until golden brown.
- Add the tofu and the sauce into the pan with the garlic and onions and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Serve and garnish with some chives and sesame seeds.
Radish Kimchi (Kkakdugi)
Radish Kimchi would be higher on the list but it is difficult to find it with the right amount of fermentation. There is nothing worse than eating under fermented Kkakdugi. Therefore, if you want to eat perfectly made radish kimchi then you need to go to an Ox-Bone Soup restaurant in Korea.
Best Radish Kimchi Recipe
- Cut the radish into medium cubes and put them into a big mixing bowl.
- Add in 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of salt and mix well.
- Leave it at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Chop 4 stalks of green onions into small pieces and leave them aside.
- Make the kimchi base by blending 1/2 onion and 1/2 red apple (seed and core removed) into a blender with 3 tablespoons of fish sauce.
- Make a rice porridge by mixing 1/4 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of rice flour. Heat it up for 1 minute in the microwave. Set aside.
- Mix the kimchi base, the porridge, and 2 tablespoons of Korean chili flakes into a bowl.
- Drain and wash the radish of any excess water for 5 mins.
- Put the radish into a bowl mix in 2 tablespoons of Korean chili flakes.
- Add the green onions and the kimchi base and mix them evenly.
- Move it all into an airtight glass container and leave it at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Afterward, keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat.
Spicy Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)
There are those that do not like cucumber. But for those that love them, you have to try the spicy cucumber salad. Again the sauce is what makes this side dish so delicious. The cucumber itself does not have a lot of flavors, however, the sauce is very similar to the sauce used for the Fried Tofu side dish. Therefore, makes sure to add salt for taste. It is one of the easiest Korean side dishes to make. All you need is some salt, garlic, vinegar, sugar, chili oil, sesame oil, and Korean chili powder.
Best Spicy Cucumber Salad Recipe
- Thinly slice one cucumber and add 1 teaspoon of salt and mix. Set it aside for 15 minutes.
- Add in 1 tablespoon of Korean red chili pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon of chopped scallions, and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic (minced)
- Mix well. Then add 1 teaspoon of vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds.