Banchan is a collection of side dishes in Korea which people enjoy with steamed rice. In Korean BBQ restaurants, you can find the side dishes served as appetizers. These side dishes come in small portions, but you can ask for refills if you feel like having more.
In Korea, these side dishes are categorized based on their ingredient and preparation methods. So, we will take you on a tour to get to know banchan better.
6 Korean BBQ Side Dishes Types
When thinking of Korean cuisine, it is hard to deny kimchi as the face.
To make kimchi, you need two ingredients. One is the fermented vegetables, such as Korean radish and napa cabbages, soaked in sea salt water for over 8 hours. The other is the mixed seasoning of gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes), fish sauce, minced garlic, and grated ginger.
Kimchi might release a strong smell, which you need time to accommodate the fermented scent. What is good about kimchi is it aids in weight loss and slow aging. This is the reason why many Korean people can maintain their youthful glow for a long period.
Namul refers to the edible plants, including leaves, herbs, roots, and mushrooms. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and sometimes seasoning is added to enhance the flavor. You can find more than two namul dishes served on the table.
Koreans will eat boreum-namul, the leftover vegetables, during the first full moon of the new year. They believe eating this side dish in the winter will help them withstand the summer heat.
Jorim is a braised or simmered side dish with the ingredients cooked within a broth to absorb its flavors. The broth is typically soy-sauce based, but some jorim dishes have a gochugaru base.
Two famous jorim type banchan are the gamja jorim (braised potato) and dubu jorim (braised tofu). The braised potato is boiled with a soy sauce broth. Braised tofu has a more versatile cooking method, as you can make them either salty or spicy.
Any side dish that is stir-fried is referred to as bokkeum, and they fit either the dry or wet category. Dry bokkeum is crunchy to taste while wet bokkeum has a softer texture.
Fun fact: Korean fried rice is a part of the bokkeum family, known as bokkeumbap.
Jjim is a term referring to the act of boiling or steaming, which also applies to banchan dishes that are cooked in this method. The gyeran-jjim (steamed egg) is an example of Korean jjim which is best enjoyed while hot.
However, it is rare to have jjim to serve along with other banchan dishes in Korean BBQ restaurants. You can order it as an a la carte from the menu.
Although this is a rare item on Korean BBQ menus, we still think jeon deserves an honorable mention in our banchan list.
Jeon is a pancake-shaped dish made from wheat flour batter and an ingredient of choice. Most jeon is served along with savory meals, but there is one variant which is enjoyed as a dessert, which is hwajeon (flower jeon).
Koreans never enjoy banchan dishes individually. It is set in the middle of the table so everyone can have a taste. The spirit of Asian food culture is all about sharing a delicious, healthy meal with your friends and family members.
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