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What is your favorite korean side dish [ panchan / banchan]?

any one have any unusual side dishes at their favorite korean restaurant?

I like daikon kimchee.

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    1. re: Dommy

      Me too! That and the blanched spinach in sesame oil with sesame seeds. So simple, but so good! They get the texture just right.

    2. I'm partial to the julienne potato salad type panchan. My SO likes the garlic stems. It's all pretty wonderful, however.

      1. I don't think I have any one particular dish. I think you need around a dozen at a time, so the different flavors and textures can play off of each other during the meal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JMF

          i agree! korean food is awesome because of the variety. but if i had to pick one...I really love the shittake mushrooms with zucchini (usually sauteed with garlic). yummy.

          1. Love kimchee, but I really love those tiny fried fish that I used to get at Sorabol Restaurant in Oakland if I was lucky.

            1. I love the daikon kimchee as well but my favorite is the stir fried rice cake with veg, Tuk bok ki is the correct name, I think. And all of the lightly cooked vegetables are also really nice.

              The one side dish that I just cannot eat is that Nokdumuk, the translucent white jelly stuff that is made from mung beans. But my five year old loves it and it was one of the first solid foods he ever ate!

              4 Replies
              1. re: Kater

                If I may ask - I once got a dish that looked like gray-ish jelly, sliced into a rectangular shape...it was tasteless and not very exciting. Is this the same mung-bean dish?

                1. re: theannerska

                  Yes. The thing about the mung bean jelly is that you have to like whatever they soak it in. I love the Szechuan preparation in Szechuan peppercorns nad chili oil, with just a bit of vinegar and other spices for kick.

                  By itself, it's an acquired taste much like any number of other fairly bland foods (shark's fin, tofu, pasta...)

                2. re: Kater

                  Funny, that's my all time fave! I love the slippery texture and the contrast w/ the brightly flavored sauce it's dressed with. Only drawback is that I've never found a more difficult food to pick up.

                  1. re: lexdevil

                    Even funnier: the challenge of grasping it with chopsticks is the only thing I like about it! : )

                3. I love them all! (being Korean, I don't think any of them are odd... ;P)

                  1. my favs include the marinated seaweed which was refreshing and crisp but slimy, the spicy raw blue crab which was sweet and super spicy, the soft raw meat sucked out of its crevices, and the triangular-sliced tempura fish cake. my ex (korean) used to make several types at home so whenever i went over it was a panchan buffet... =) sigh...

                    1. I love the marinated soybean sprouts. I have tried on a few occasions to make them myself but they never taste as good. Any hints?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: srr

                        marinated or seasoned? Here's recipe you can try out for seasoned soy bean sprouts:


                      2. water kimchi (nabak kimchi?), daikon kimchi, and those lovely potato cubes boiled in sweetened soy... so tasty.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mbe

                          you can refer to them as mool kimchee too

                        2. I don't know if I have one favorite. Here are some banchan I've enjoyed:

                          Various kinds of kimchi, including a napa cabbage kimchi with a delicious tomato sauce, fizzy radish kimchi (at Gam Mee Ok on 32 St. in Manhattan), a dish made with yellow sweet potato (just sweet enough to leave for "dessert" - I had this one at Woo Chon on Kissena Blvd. in Flushing, Queens, NY), and glazed black beans (sweet and slightly salty).

                          What's fun is when good Korean restaurants vary the banchan so that there's always a good surprise or two each time you go.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Pan

                            do you know how the sweet potato and black bean dish was prepared Pan?

                            1. re: kare_raisu

                              Those were two different dishes. No, I really don't know how they're made; I just eat 'em! :-)

                              Oh, the yellow sweet potato dish also had golden raisins in it.

                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                  Possibly. Or boiled, or steamed.

                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                The black beans are usually soaked first (or boiled) and then boiled in a soy sauce mixture with a small amount of sugar (as to which kind of soy sauce-there seem to be hundreds-I can't help).

                            2. What are those tiny whole fishies? I pick those. And please tell me how to make sure I get them next time :-).

                              1 Reply
                              1. A slight tangent that I think is general enough to remain in this thread: How/when are we supposed to eat the side dishes. We eat at a lot of Korean restaurants because our son is Korean but we don't know the protocol. Typically we dig into them as soon as they arrive at table (before the meal) and we each just reach across the table and take what we'd like. Several times, the server or hostess has come over and corrected something else we were doing wrong (not mixing bibimbap correctly, for example) and they're never redirected our approach to the side dishes. But possibly we're approaching the panchan so boorishly that they think we're a lost cause!

                                And when we take out other families they've often been reluctant to eat directly from the little dishes. It is a bit germy if you worry about that sort of thing or dine with friends who have trenchmouth!

                                Any guidance would be appreciated. One more question, in fact! I've always reflexively refused offers of side dish refills thinking that it is probably rude to say "Yes, we'd like some more of that." But if it's not, I wouldn't mind saying yes and getting another little dish of a particular favorite.


                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Kater

                                  It's not rude in the least to accept refills of banchan! I've even been known to ask for more (and tip accordingly).

                                  1. re: Kater

                                    I'm Korean, and my entire family always starts eating the banchan as soon as it comes out, even though technically, it's meant to be eaten with rice. We're hungry :) And Koreans don't care about sharing/double-dipping--we share stews as well as all those side dishes. I do have an aunt, though, who is really finicky and hates it when guests touch one piece of food with their chopsticks and then don't take it, which is pretty easy if you're not that adept. I figure the more you expose yourself to germs, the more you build up antibodies.

                                    My parents always ask for more, and would be horrified if the restaurant didn't give more. The price of the banchan is figured into the cost of the meal.

                                    1. re: Kater

                                      You can eat them as soon as they arrive. If the restaurant means for you to eat them with a particular food they'll bring them with a particular food -- in any case, they're refillable so you can always get more.

                                      Don't be embarrassed about accepting more. I swear to you they have lots more back in the First Bank of Kimchi. They won't look at you funny, they won't think you're being rude, they'll just bring more.

                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                        the First Bank of Kimchi! : )

                                        That makes me laugh because I just bought some kimchi and had to ask the owner of the market to make a special jar for me because the ones she was selling were ENORMOUS! On another thread, a few people had commented that kimchi ought to be allowed to fester for awhile before eating it, but the moment it gets a bit floppy and translucent I just don't care for it. And no one else in my family will touch the stuff unless I make Kimchi Bok Um.

                                      2. re: Kater

                                        Kate, I'm a korean son and can assure you, koreans are never offended by "yes, we'd like some more of that." Don't stress about protocol and dig in -- that's the korean way!

                                      3. Does anyone know what the light brown rectangle-shaped cakes are? They're slightly sweet and I think they must be fish or squid cakes? I really like those.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: emily

                                          They are indeed fish paste cakes.

                                        2. -Fried fish cake.
                                          -Spicy little zako fish.
                                          -Cuttlefish kimchee.
                                          -Mung bean or zenmai.

                                          These are all things I love.

                                          1. This is like asking which child you like best.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. The kimchee crab. Its mushy.

                                              1. Oi kimchi -- the spicy cucumbers. Wow.

                                                1. I love the sesame sprouts, I thought they were mung bean sprouts, but I read above that they are soy bean sprouts. Does anyone have a recipe?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: cynosure

                                                    Here is the recipe that I use. It is good, but not as good as the Kong Namul that we're served in Korean restaurants. Maybe someone will be willing to share their mother's recipe with us! I've found that though even though I buy Korean cookbooks and shop at a Korean market my dishes are usually very good, but not as good as what we get from the caterers or restaurants. I suspect that they leave some of the secrets out of the published recipes!! : )

                                                    1/2 lb Bean sprouts
                                                    1 ts Salt; or to taste
                                                    2 tb Sesame seeds, toasted
                                                    1/2 ts Garlic
                                                    1 pinch korean red pepper
                                                    1/4 c Finely chopped green onions
                                                    1 dash good sesame oil


                                                    Clean the bean sprouts. Drop into boiling water and boil 5 minutes. Drain well. Return to the pan. Stir in the salt, sesame seeds, sesame oil, garlic, red pepper, and green onions. Simmer 2 minute. Serve hot or cold.