Traditional Korean Daily Side Dishes Guide

If you’ve ever enjoyed Korean cuisine, you’ve probably noticed the small dishes of flavorful food that come alongside the main course. These are called side dishes or “banchan” in Korean. Koreans consume side dishes as part of their everyday meals, and they add a layer of taste and nutrition to the dining experience. In this guide, we’ll explore the colorful world of traditional and popular Korean side dishes that Koreans enjoy daily. Whether you’re a seasoned fan of Korean cuisine or a novice, we guarantee you’ll find new and exciting dishes to add to your daily menu.

Introduction to Korean Side Dishes

Korean cuisine is renowned for its flavorful and diverse side dishes, called “banchan” in Korean. These banchan are an essential part of every meal and provide a balanced and tasty complement to the main course. From pickled vegetables to seared meats, Korean side dishes offer a broad range of flavors and textures.

In daily Korean meals, banchan is typically served in small portions and shared among the diners at the table. This communal dining style reflects the value of family and social connections in Korean culture.

Incorporating Korean side dishes into your meals not only add variety to your diet but also provide essential nutrients. Many of the dishes are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, making them an excellent addition to a balanced diet.

Join us as we explore the world of Korean side dishes and their importance in everyday meals.

Must-Have Traditional Korean Side Dishes

When it comes to authentic Korean cuisine, side dishes play a crucial role in enhancing the flavor and overall dining experience. Koreans commonly prepare and enjoy specific side dishes, which are deeply rooted in the country’s culinary heritage. These must-have Korean side dishes are rich in flavors, textures, and nutrients.

authentic korean side dishes


Kimchi is a staple side dish in Korean cuisine and is usually made using napa cabbage, radish, or cucumber. The dish is prepared by fermenting vegetables with a blend of spices and seasonings, which results in a distinct and flavorful taste. Kimchi is enjoyed as a side dish, but it can also be used as a condiment or included in soups and stews.


Bibimbap is a must-try traditional Korean dish served as a side dish. It is prepared using rice, vegetables, meat or tofu, and gochujang sauce. Bibimbap has a unique flavor and is considered to be a highly nutritious dish


Japchae is a combination of stir-fried vegetables, meat, and sweet potato noodles that are lightly seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. It is a colorful and flavorful side dish that is perfect for adding variety to your meals.

These must-have Korean side dishes are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more authentic Korean side dishes that you can explore and enjoy. Incorporating these dishes into your meals will surely evoke the spirit of Korea and its culinary history.

Easy and Healthy Korean Side Dishes

If you’re looking for easy and healthy Korean side dishes to complement your meals, then you’re in the right place! These side dishes can be prepared with basic ingredients found in many kitchens, and are perfect for those busy days when you need to put together a quick meal.

Egg and Vegetable Japchae

This savory dish combines glass noodles with vegetables like spinach, carrots and bell pepper, and is topped off with a fried egg. It’s high in protein and fiber, making it a satisfying dish that will help keep you full for longer.

Steamed Korean Sweet Potato

Steamed Korean sweet potatoes are a delicious and healthy side dish that’s easy to make. Simply steam the sweet potatoes until they’re tender, and add a pinch of salt for flavor. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, making them an excellent addition to any meal.

Easy Cucumber Kimchi

This refreshing side dish is made with sliced cucumbers that are marinated in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. It’s ready in just a few minutes and provides a great source of vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium and vitamin K.

These easy and healthy Korean side dishes will add flavor, nutrition, and variety to your meals. They’re perfect for anyone looking for quick and healthy meal options.

Popular Korean Side Dishes for Everyday Eating

Korean cuisine offers a plethora of popular side dishes that are enjoyed on a daily basis. These dishes not only add variety to meals but also provide a burst of flavor and nutrition. One of the most famous and well-loved Korean side dishes is kimchi, which comes in a variety of types. It is a fermented dish made with vegetables and spices and is known for its sour and spicy taste. Koreans eat it with almost every meal.

Another popular side dish is namul, which refers to a variety of seasoned vegetable dishes. These dishes are typically made with blanched or stir-fried vegetables that are mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and other seasonings. Some of the popular namul dishes include spinach, bean sprouts, and radish.

Other well-loved side dishes include japchae, a dish made with sweet potato noodles stir-fried with vegetables and beef, and pan-fried tofu, a simple but delicious dish made with crispy fried tofu cubes that are seasoned with soy sauce and served with a spicy dipping sauce.

To get a taste of these popular Korean side dishes at home, try incorporating them into your everyday meals. These dishes not only add flavor but also nutrition, as they are typically made with fresh and healthy ingredients. Experiment with different recipes and find your favorites.

Exploring Traditional Korean Kimchi Varieties

Kimchi, a fermented vegetable side dish, is a staple in Korean cuisine. It is made using a variety of vegetables such as cabbage, radish, cucumber, and scallions, along with seasonings and spices. There are over 200 types of kimchi, each with its unique flavor profile and preparation method.

Cabbage Kimchi (Baechu Kimchi)

The most popular type of kimchi is Baechu Kimchi, which is made using napa cabbage. The cabbage is pickled with a combination of chili powder, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce, which results in a tangy and spicy flavor. Baechu Kimchi is often served as a side dish with rice and soups.

Radish Kimchi (Kkakdugi)

Kkakdugi is made using diced radish pickled with seasonings such as garlic, ginger, and chili powder. Its flavor is sweeter and milder compared to the spicy Baechu Kimchi, making it a great side dish for spicy main courses.

Salted Seafood Kimchi (Jeotgal Kimchi)

Jeotgal Kimchi is a type of kimchi that is made by fermenting seafood. The seafood used can vary from shrimp to oysters, squid, and fish. Jeotgal Kimchi has a strong and salty flavor and is commonly enjoyed with rice and stews.

Kimchi is not only delicious but also has numerous health benefits. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and probiotics that aid digestion and boost the immune system. Incorporating kimchi into your diet is a great way to experience the unique flavors of traditional Korean side dishes.

Classic Korean Namul Recipes

In Korean cuisine, namul refers to a variety of seasoned vegetable side dishes that are enjoyed as a part of traditional meals. These dishes are known for their vibrant flavors and amazing health benefits. Namul can be made with a wide range of vegetables, including spinach, bean sprouts, and cucumber.

Here are some traditional Korean namul recipes that you can easily prepare at home:

Sigeumchi Namul (Spinach Side Dish)

Sigeumchi namul is a beloved Korean side dish that is made with spinach, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. The spinach is blanched and chopped before being mixed with the flavorful ingredients.

traditional korean side dishes

Kongnamul Muchim (Seasoned Soybean Sprouts)

Another popular namul dish is kongnamul muchim, which is made with soybean sprouts, garlic, green onions, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. The sprouts are blanched, seasoned, and then chilled before being served.

Oi Muchim (Spicy Cucumber Salad)

Oi muchim is a refreshing and spicy cucumber salad. The salad is made with cucumbers, garlic, chili flakes, vinegar, and sugar. The cucumbers are sliced and seasoned with the flavorful ingredients, then chilled before serving.

These classic Korean namul recipes are perfect for adding some healthy and flavorful options to your daily meals. Try them out and discover the delicious world of traditional Korean side dishes!

Fermented Korean Side Dishes

Experience the rich flavors of traditional Korean side dishes with our guide to fermented banchan. These dishes not only add depth and complexity to your meals, but also offer numerous health benefits. Fermentation is a traditional method of preservation in Korean cuisine, resulting in unique and bold flavors that are truly delicious.

Doenjang (Fermented Soybean Paste)

Doenjang is a staple in Korean cuisine and is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and water. The resulting paste is used to make soups, stews, sauces, and dips, and adds a complex umami flavor to any dish. High in protein, fiber, and antioxidants, it is a healthy and delicious addition to your table.

Gochujang (Fermented Chili Paste)

Gochujang is a spicy and slightly sweet paste made by fermenting chili peppers with glutinous rice, soybeans, and salt. It is a popular ingredient in Korean cuisine and is used as a condiment, marinade, or seasoning for various dishes. Gochujang contains capsaicin, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it a healthy choice as well as a flavorful one.

Experience the unique and delicious flavors of fermented Korean side dishes in your own kitchen. Whether you’re a fan of spicy or savory, there’s a banchan for every palate.

Rice and Soup in Korean Cuisine

Rice and soup are staples of Korean cuisine and play important roles in complementing the various traditional Korean side dishes. Rice is often served as the main carbohydrate and comes in various forms, such as plain white rice, mixed grain rice, and fried rice.

In contrast, soup serves as a palette cleanser and adds a balanced flavor to the meal. Among the popular Korean soup varieties are seaweed soup, kimchi soup, and tofu soup.

Both rice and soup offer versatile options and can be easily paired with any traditional Korean side dish for a complete and satisfying meal.

Next, let’s explore the various ways you can incorporate these staples into your own meals featuring traditional Korean side dishes.

Traditional Korean side dishes

Conclusion: Incorporating Traditional Korean Side Dishes in Your Daily Meals

We hope this guide has given you a taste of the essential Korean side dishes that are enjoyed as part of everyday meals. Korean cuisine is known for its vibrant and diverse flavors, which are showcased in the array of banchan served with the main course.

By incorporating these traditional Korean side dishes into your daily meals, you can experience the depth and complexity of Korean cuisine. Whether it’s the spicy kick of kimchi or the refreshing crunch of namul, these dishes offer a delicious and nutritious addition to any meal.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes and flavors to find your favorites. You can easily prepare these dishes at home with simple and fresh ingredients. By doing so, you can connect with the rich culinary heritage of Korea and enjoy the health benefits of these traditional Korean side dishes.

So, next time you sit down for a meal, remember to include a variety of banchan to elevate your dining experience. Traditional Korean side dishes are not only delicious but also a great way to diversify your meals and explore new flavors.

Thank you for joining us on this journey to discover the world of traditional Korean side dishes


What are traditional Korean side dishes?

Traditional Korean side dishes, also known as banchan, are a diverse range of small dishes that accompany the main course in Korean meals. They are an integral part of Korean culinary culture and add variety and balance to the overall dining experience.

What are some popular Korean side dishes?

Some popular Korean side dishes include kimchi (fermented vegetables), namul (seasoned vegetables), bokkeum (stir-fried dishes), jjigae (stews), and jeon (pan-fried dishes). These dishes offer a wide range of flavors and textures to complement the main course.

Are Korean side dishes healthy?

Yes, Korean side dishes are often healthy as they are made with fresh ingredients, minimal oil, and a focus on vegetables. Many of the side dishes are also fermented, which provides additional health benefits through the presence of probiotics.

Can I make Korean side dishes at home?

Absolutely! Many Korean side dishes can be easily prepared at home. There are simple recipes available that require basic ingredients and cooking techniques. Making your own Korean side dishes allows you to customize the flavors and create a healthier version according to your preferences.

How do I incorporate Korean side dishes into my daily meals?

Korean side dishes can be enjoyed alongside rice, soups, and the main course. They add depth of flavor and a variety of textures to the overall meal. Try including a few different side dishes with contrasting flavors to create a well-balanced and satisfying dining experience.

Leave a Comment