Quick and Easy Korean Side Dishes or Banchan

Banchan that doesn't take days to cure or pickle.

Did you know that almost all Korean meals are served with anywhere from two to 12 side dishes, known as banchan? With that in mind, it's easy to see why whipping up a Korean meal can seem like a daunting task if you're in a hurry or pressed for time. If you're an organized cook, hopefully, you'll always have at least a few of the items needed to make sides in your fridge, pantry or cupboards. With these tips, prepare quick and easy Korean sides when your pantry and cabinets...MORE don't have a lot to spare.

  • 01 of 08

    Spicy Korean Coleslaw

    Harald Walker / Stocksy United

    This is an easy Korean 'salad' that my mother would always make with Western cabbage (yang baechu). While we ate it, she'd usually reminisce about how she used to make this as a replacement for kimchi when she first moved to the United States. Like many immigrants, she couldn't always find Korean cabbage at her local grocery store. Sometimes, she just didn't have the storage space, time or materials necessary to make large batches of kimchi. If you're Korean or...MORE Korean-American, you likely can relate.

    Fortunately, today, when you can easily find bagged coleslaw in grocery stores, this Korean coleslaw is downright easy to make. There's no mayo, so this coleslaw is light and pairs well with both picnic food and Korean meals. Enjoy!

  • 02 of 08

    Steamed Egg (Gaeran Jim)

    Steamed chicken's egg
    DigiPub / Getty Images

    This quick and easy steamed egg dish (gaeran jim) can be made in the microwave, which is super convenient, or on the stove. Koreans enjoy eggs at any meal of the day, so this steamed egg recipe is an easy side dish for the morning, noon or night. Eggs have a lot of protein and are a good source of selenium.

  • 03 of 08

    Stir Fried Anchovies (Myulchi Bokum)

    Fried Anchovies
    Topic Images Inc. / Getty Images

    This Korean anchovy dish (myeolchi bokkeum) may not be up your alley if you're more accustomed to American cuisine. If you have an open mind (and stomach), however, this side is easy, satisfying and nutritious. Full of crunch and calcium, it tastes a lot better than it looks. Are you willing to give it a try?

  • 04 of 08

    Quick Pickled Cucumbers

    Korean cucumber salad
    Gary Moss Photography / Getty Images

    This quick cucumber pickle recipe only takes 20 minutes to prepare, and the sweet and salty flavor makes it the perfect side dish. With just four ingredients, you can make this really snappy, crunchy cucumber salad that goes well with Korean meals and sandwiches. If you like cucumbers or pickles, don't hesitate to make this dish.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Korean Braised Tofu

    Korean braised tofu.

    This braised tofu recipe is a healthy, sweet, spicy, salty, smooth and savory dish that is good for any meal. It also adds a hearty element for meatless meals or vegetarian nights. 

  • 06 of 08

    Scallion Salad (Pa Muchim)

    Spring onions
    Kevin Summers / Getty Images

    This fresh Korean scallion side is often served with grilled meat and seafood dishes in Korean restaurants. You can add it to your lettuce wraps or just treat it as another side dish or salad.

  • 07 of 08

    Bean Sprout Salad (Sookju Namul)

    Bean Sprout Salad

    One of the most popular side dishes, sookju namul (Korean mung bean sprout salad) can complement almost any Korean meal. It is delicious, fresh, healthy and easy to make.

  • 08 of 08

    Spicy Seafood Salad

    Spicy Seafood Salad
    Naomi Imatome

    This spicy seafood salad features a spicy Korean dressing for both the seafood and the greens. I usually make it with shrimp and squid because they are favorites in my household, but it is also very good with abalone, scallops, tuna or a variety of different seafood.

    The Korean love affair with chili peppers is well known, so it should be no surprise that we even manage to add chili spice to Western-style dishes like tossed salads.