Surprising Side-Dishes: Peculiar Banchan

By Kyle Voong

While the word banchan, a Korean term used to refer to various side dishes, may bring forth thoughts of dishes like kimchi and pajeon, there’s a variety of banchan that aren’t as common. How does raw marinated crab sound? Or maybe you’re more interested in some fermented squid? Kimchi and other more typical banchan are amazing, of course, but what are your thoughts on some of these less well-known dishes?

Fermented Squid (Ojingeojeot)

When considering fermented Korean foods, kimchi may be the most prominent, but did you know that seafood is commonly fermented in South Korean food as well? The act of fermenting seafood is a way of preserving fresh fish, and it’s still used in many places today! Ojingeojeot, a dish made of fermented squid, is a prime example of this. Fermented in a combination of hot pepper flakes, fish sauce, sesame oil, and other seasonings, this dish is a delicious way to enjoy squid that you may have not experienced before!

Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi (Oisobagi Kimchi)

Unlike other kimchi, oisobagi kimchi is made by slicing cucumbers open and stuffing them with even more vegetables! These vegetables often include Asian chives, carrot, and onion. All of these vegetables are first sliced thinly and then marinated with kimchi paste before being stuffed into the cucumbers. Also unlike other kimchi, oisobagi kimchi can be enjoyed freshly made rather than having to ferment, so don’t be afraid to enjoy this delicious and unique form of kimchi!

Spicy Raw Crabs (Yangnyeom Gejang)

While thoughts of crab may involve images of steamed crab and lots of butter, yangyeom gejang is a take on crab that some may find surprising. Rather than being cooked, Yangyeom gejang is a dish that involves marinating raw crab in a spicy sauce. This deliciously saucy side dish is commonly known as a “bapdoduk,” or “rice thief,” so be sure to enjoy both the crab and its marinade with a nice bowl of rice!

Seaweed Salad (Miyeok Muchim)

Unlike Japanese seaweed salad, Korean miyeok muchim is a sweet, vinegary dish that features bite-sized pieces of seaweed commonly mixed with a selection of onion, garlic, radish, or cucumber. Not only does the dish taste delicious, but the seaweed gives it an interesting texture as well! Luckily, miyeok muchim can be made in advance and kept in the fridge, so be sure to make some and enjoy it throughout the week!

If you’re looking for a recipe, Maangchi has one on her website.

Fermented Skate (Hongeohoe)

Hailing from the Keolla province of Korea, this dish features fermented skate, a fish common in the province. Commonly eaten as small slabs, this dish is commonly served alongside bossam or kimchi as part of a meal. However, this dish is widely known for an ammonia-like odor, so it isn’t for everyone!

The world of banchan is an expansive place with many popular favorites. Dishes like kimchi and pajeon are well-known, but it’s also important to recognize the less popular dishes. Have you tried or heard of any of these dishes before? What do you think?

Written by Kyle Voong

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