Last week I shared a recipe for Kalbi (Korean BBQ Beef Short Ribs) and Ssamjang sauce. (To read those two amazing recipe, check out Summertime and the Grillin is Easy - Korean Style) We can never over-emphasize the importance of a show-stopping meat dish. But I would argue that side dishes also play a significant role in making the main dish shine. Just think about Thanksgiving. Can you have turkey with no cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie? Absolutely not!
In addition to grilled meat marinades with bold flavors, what also makes a Korean BBQ distinct is their side dishes. Banchan translates to “side dishes,” which are usually served alongside a Korean meal and are used as a gesture of hospitality. You could prepare your own or buy them from your local Korean grocery store. Some of these side dishes can be kimchi, braised lotus root and stirred fried anchovies, seasoned bean sprouts, stir-fried zucchini, and so on.
To prepare your own, we suggest using local produce and Korean condiments to add the Asian flair. You don’t need to make a trip to a Korean supermarket to cook banchan. You can get the produce at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Get ingredients like fennel, kale, English cucumber. And feel free to play with the gochugaru, soy sauce, and gochujang.
If this all sounds appetizing and you want to give it a try, we have included three banchan recipes that will go perfectly with your Korean BBQ Beef Short Ribs. Those banchan are easy to replicate at home. For those who are interested in making kimchi at home, don’t miss our quick Cucumber Kimchi. It’s refreshing, spicy, and perfect for a BBQ party or to enjoy daily with rice!
Crunchy Gochujang Fennel
- 1 large fennel bulb stems and dark green parts removed
- Kosher salt
- 1 ½ pieces ginger peeled, finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons gochujang paste
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons gochugaru
- 1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- Slice fennel bulb into quarters lengthwise through the core. Cut out core and discard. Slice bulb lengthwise 1/4 thick. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just beginning to soften and turn translucent (about 2 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
- Whisk together ginger, garlic, gochujang, vinegar, honey, oil, gochugaru, and sesame seeds in a medium bowl. Add fennel and toss to coat. Season with salt.
- Note: fennel can be made 4 days in advance. Cover and chill
Quick Cucumber Kimchi
- 1 pound small cucumbers such as Kirby or small Persian (about 6), ends trimmed, halved crosswise
- Kosher salt
- 1 small yellow onion finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup very thinly sliced scallions both white and green parts (about 2 medium)
- 10 fresh chives sliced crosswise into 1-inch pieces (1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon chopped saeujeot Korean salted shrimp or fish sauce
- 1 medium clove garlic minced (1 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon gochugaru Korean red chile flakes or crushed red pepper flakes
- Stand the cucumber pieces on their trimmed ends, and using a small knife, cut an X into each, stopping about halfway down. Season inside and out with 1-1/2 tablespoons of salt and let them sit in a shallow bowl at room temperature for 1-1/2 hours to soften.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the onion, scallions, chives, saeujeot, garlic, ginger, gochugaru, and 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
- Rinse the cucumbers well inside and out under cold running water and shake dry. Gently spread open the cucumbers and press about 1 heaping teaspoon of the chile mixture into each piece. Transfer them to a shallow glass or plastic container, standing them on their trimmed ends and packing them tightly together. Press any of the remaining chile mixture in and around the cucumbers and pour over any accumulated liquid. Cover and let sit at room temperature to ferment for at least 24 hours. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes, and then serve.
Quick Cooked Kale
- 1 large bunch purple or any other type of kale
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon perilla sesame leaf oil or toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon white or regular soy sauce kosher salt optional
- Trim woody ends from kale stems. Remove ribs and stems from leaves and finely slice crosswise. Coarsely chop leaves; keep them separate from stems.
- Heat grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook stems, tossing occasionally, until crisp and tender. (About 3 minutes.)
- Add leaves a handful at a time, tossing and letting them wilt slightly before adding more. Cook until all of the leaves are wilted. (About 2 minutes.)
- Add garlic, perilla oil, soy sauce, and cook, tossing often, until leaves are soft. (About 3 minutes.) Season with salt if needed.
Now you have everything you need to put your Korean BBQing skills to the test, so throw a party for your friends or enjoy it with your family! This Asian cuisine will leave them wanting more and give you full bragging rights for hosting the best summer food party ever!
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Photographer and Content Creator
Camila Pesantez is the owner of @camipphotography. She is a wedding, portrait, and fashion photographer based in New England. She loves capturing authentic, candid, fun, and spontaneous moments. In her spare time, Camila enjoys singing and serving at her local church, cooking, and spending time with friends.
What sparked your passion for the industry?
The creativity behind it. It’s what I use to express my creativity and feel free to express myself through it. The photography world is so diverse and the possibilities are endless.
Cake or Pie? Why?
Pie because it has a lot of texture and moisture and reminds me of a nice cozy fall day at home.
Favorite dish to cook at home?
Vegan meat pasta. I have my own recipe, and I make it at least twice a month