Three Easy Banchan (Korean Side Dishes) – Recipes

Three Easy Banchan
Three Easy Banchan (Korean Side Dishes)

No Korean meal is complete without a selection of at least a few banchan - the small side dishes that are served in the middle of the table for everyone to enjoy. Banchan are usually chilled or at room temperature

There are hundreds of different banchan recipes, many of which can be whipped up in just a few minutes. Once you get an idea of the flavor palette, you'll be able to improvise your own. Here are three of my current favorites (all vegan).

Here are a few Korean or Korean-inspired dishes that these banchan would go well with: mandu (Korean potstickers), tofu & kimchi bowl, vegetarian japchae, and the kimchi stew that will be in my upcoming book!

Bean sprouts with sesame oil

  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Sea salt

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the bean sprouts for 90 seconds. Drain, rinse in cool water, drain again and pat dry, then toss with toasted sesame oil and a big pinch of sea salt. Chill. 

Squash in sweet soy sauce

  • 1 small delicata squash, halved, seeded, cut into 1/4" thick half moons
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 thinly sliced jalapeno pepper (optional)

In a small saucepan, cover squash with water, bring to a boil, and simmer until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Mix soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar and ginger. Pour over the squash and bring back to a simmer; cook until fully tender. Chill. Stir in jalapeno pepper. Serve with only a small amount of the liquid. You can also do this with sweet potato.

Spicy stir-fried zucchini

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small zucchini, 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon gochujang
  • 1/2-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds

 Heat a small skillet over high heat. Add toasted sesame oil. When it shimmers, add the zucchini, salt, gochujang and ginger. Stir fry until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and mix in sesame seeds. Chill.


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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, June 6th, 2011 in Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan or Modifiable.

11 Responses to “Three Easy Banchan (Korean Side Dishes) – Recipes”

  1. Reply
    June 6, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    The banchan looks so delicious! ­čÖé So cool that you’re writing a book!!!

    Do you use mung bean sprouts or soy bean sprouts? I was under the impression that it was soy sprouts, but maybe not. I love to add a hint of gochugaru for a spicy kick and color! YUM!

  2. Reply
    June 6, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Yum, I love banchan – it’s one of my favorite parts of a Korean meal!

  3. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Thanks, Esther! There are banchan made from both of those types of sprouts. I believe the mung bean sprout version is known as sookju namul and the soy bean sprout version is kongnamul muchim – but someone please correct me if that isn't right… I'm definitely no expert on Korean food, just an appreciating amateur!

  4. Reply
    June 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I just brought in a batch of zucchini from our garden, and I think i just found the recipe to put them to use! What other dishes would you suggest to go alongside?
    ~Nancy Lewis~

  5. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 9, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Thanks, Nancy! Here are some ideas for dishes these banchan go well with: mandu (Korean potstickers), tofu & kimchi bowl, vegetarian japchae.

  6. Reply
    June 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Banchan! It’s the best part of going to my Korean friend Cathie’s house for dinner. She’s always got those out, but when I ask her how she makes them, she does that shrug of the shoulders “it’s easy, I don’t have a recipe” kind of thing. Thanks for posting these!

  7. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I love that there are 100s of them and you can feel free to improvise… maybe we should start a banchan meme: post one and tag a friend ­čÖé

  8. Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    I adore small little sides like this, especially with these large flavors.

  9. Reply
    December 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Banchans rock!
    we’ve been eating lots of Korean food lately. Funny thing is that the main focus in Korean food is meat but to me the side dishes have always been the star in the meal. I am going to try your recipe with a couple of dishes using Kabocha squash and white sweet potato. Toasted sesame oil and gochugang go so well with these two veggies.

  10. Reply
    November 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    I gotta say, all of these awesome veggie versions of Korean dishes have me flipping out over here. Now I’ve got a long list of new stuff to try to get my inner Asian on!

  11. Reply
    May 28, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    Made the zucchini banchan last night to go with a Korean stir-fried pork belly recipe – it was delicious and easy and fast. Thanks!

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