A guide to Korean Banchan


  • Cabbage Kimchi (Baechu Kimchi)
  • Persian Cucumber Kimchi (Oi Kimchi)
  • Cubed Daikon Radish Kimchi (Kkakdugi)
  • Garlic Chive Kimchi (Buchu Kimchi)
  • Water Radish Kimchi (Dongchimi)
  • Pineapple Kimchi

Pickles (Jangajji):

  • Daikon and Garlic Pickles (Maneul Jangajji)
  • Green Chili Pepper Pickles (Gochu Jangajji)

Seasoned Vegetables (Muchim/ Namul):

  • Soy-and-Sesame Spinach (Sigeumchi Muchim)
  • Seasoned Bean Sprouts (Kongnamul Muchim)
  • Toasted Seaweed (Gim)
  • Soy-Marinated Eggplant (Gaji Namul)

Stir-Fried Banchan (Bokkeum):

  • Stir-Fried Baby Anchovies (Myulchi Bokkeum)
  • Dried Squid and Gochujang (Ojingeochae Bokkeum)
  • Spicy Stir-Fried Fish Cake (Eomuk Bokkeum)
  • Blistered Shishito Peppers (Kkwarigochu Myulchi Bokkeum)

The Rest:

  • Bubbling Egg Custard (Gyeran Jjim)
  • Pancakes (Jeon)
  • Soy Sauce Beef and Eggs (Jangjorim)
  • Soy-Braised Tofu (Dubu Jorim)
  • Stir Fried Glass Noodles (Japchae)
  • Spicy Marinated Crabs (Yangnyeom Gejang)
  • Potato Salad (Gamja Saelleodeu)



Matt Rodbard is the co-author with Deuki Hong of Koreatown: A Cookbook. All Matt wants is for the world to eat more gamjatang. It’s not banchan, but still…

Banchan, the opening series of small plates that thump on the table with tommy-gun-like frequency to mark the beginning of a Korean meal, are not “free.” No, you’re paying for that baechu kimchi(cabbage kimchi) that has aged for six weeks in some faraway land (New Jersey, likely). You’re paying for the kongnamul muchim(seasoned bean sprouts) and the gyeran jjim (bubbling egg custard) and the tiny dried silver fish stir-fried with rice syrup and garlic. Those dried breadsticks served at strip mall red-sauce joints? Thoseare bullshit freebies.

Banchan translates to “side dishes,” and they are fundamental to Korean eating. That is, snacked on throughout the meal with great enthusiasm. Banchan is so important that restaurants should be judged by the quality of their banchan—and how often they get refilled.

The most commonplace banchan include various kimchis (cabbage, cucumber, radish) and seasoned vegetables called muchim, like blanched or steamed water spinach or bean sprouts tossed with sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and chili flakes. But there are also plenty of curveballs, like potato salad. And there’s a secret ingredient in that potato salad that I’ll tell you all about if you stick with me through this guide to banchan.


I could be pedantic and drill down into which vegetable pairs best with which bubbling stew, and which pickled radish goes with which

Read more here.

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