South Korean banchan are side dishes that are often served with a meal. They are known for the large number of them. Koreans also cook each dish individually to ensure the proper cooking time and seasoning is applied to each dish. This takes a bit of patience but totally worth the effort. I made five different sides to enjoy with the galbi (BBQ) and as a bonus with the leftovers, I made their famous dish called bibimbap for lunch the next day.
There are hundreds of choices for banchan. A few that I bought instead of making myself were two types of kimchi (napa cabbage and radish) a hot seasoned spicy seaweed, the famous gochujang (fermented red pepper paste), red lettuce leaves and white rice was also served just make sure to use a short grain white rice and cook using package directions. Here is what the feast looked like with all the South Korea banchan and you can get the details on the sides I cooked below.
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South Korean Banchan (Side Dishes)
- 1/2 lb bean sprouts
- 1 bunch spinach or 8 0z bag baby spinach cut into pieces
- 8 shitake mushrooms stems removed and sliced
- 2 zucchinis peeled and cut in strips/julienne
- 2 carrots peeled and cut in strips/ julienne
- Seasonings you will need:
- 4 cloves garlic cloves minced
- 4 green onions chopped
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil per vegetable dish used
- 1/2 tsp sesame seeds per vegetable dish used
- pinch salt
- pinch pepper
- 1 tsp soy sauce per vegetable dish see below
- 1/2 tsp sugar per vegetable dish see below
- To blanch the bean sprouts: Boil a large pot of water. Once boiled add in the sprouts. As soon as the water returns to a boil, remove the sprouts and put under cold water to stop the cooking. This should only take about one minute. Drain and then season 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste. 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon green onions, 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds plus a pinch of black pepper to taste. Serve in a small banchan bowl or dish.
- To blanch and season the spinach: Boil a pot of water with about 1 tsp of salt once it is boiling, add in the spinach for about 30 seconds. Drain the water and run cold water over the spinach to stop the cooking.Squeeze the spinach to remove excess water. Season with 1 teaspoon chopped green onion, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste, 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Mix well and serve in a small banchan bowl or dish.
- For the shitake mushrooms:If using dried mushrooms soak in 1 tablespoon sugar and two cups of water for 30 minutes or until soft. Rinse, if using fresh just wash in cold water and slice. In a skillet or wok saute mushrooms with 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon green onions, 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds and a pinch of pepper.Saute on high heat for 3-5 minutes. Serve in a small banchan bowl or dish
- For the zucchini: Saute the sliced zucchini with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon of slat, 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of chopped green onions, 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, pepper to taste and cook on medium heat for 3 - 5 minutes. Serve in a small banchan bowl or dish.
- For the carrots: saute the sliced carrots with 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper, cok on medium for 5 minutes or until cooked. serve in a small banchan bowl or dish.