Side Dish Types

So far we've learned the joys of grilling great meats and slamming excessive shots; we've come to see the wisdom in choosing Korean cuisine over a boring and overpriced turdburger.  If we need a third reason it's right in front of you, sprawled across the table in the many bowls and dishes.

Holy Banchan!  
At most Korean restaurants, side dishes are free and unlimited.  So don't hold back.  Just shout for the waiter ("저기요") and ask more ("더 주세요") of whatever your heart desires.  With this guide you can learn the names of your favorites and how to order them in Korean for free and unlimited satisfaction.

The BBQ Basics

김치 (Kimchi) is the national pride of Korea. It accompanies their soldiers to battle and their astronauts to space[1].  It is cabbage fermented in varying sauces and spices, such as salt, garlic and often fish sauce.  Since arriving from the New World in the 1500's, red peppers have also been a prominent ingredient.  Depending on the fermentation season and location the flavor varies greatly, usually on a triangular spectrum of salty, sour and spicy.

밥 (bap) - Rice
A staple of Korean cuisine, even lending its name to mean "food" or "meal" in general.  Most restaurants offer 공기밥 (gong-gee bap) for 1,000krw.  Helps fill a stomach or dilute a spicy mouthful. 

고추 (go-choo) -  Peppers
Sometimes hot, sometimes not.  You won't know until after the first bite.

But don't inspect one for too long in public.  Peppers are also traditionally a symbol of the male penile organ.
양파 (yang-pah) - Onions
Either chopped or sliced, in soy sauce or not. 

파 (pah) - Spring onions,
as in Pajun (파전), or spring onion pancakes.
마늘 (mah-neul) - Garlic.
A stinky rock or tender delight, a few minutes roasting on the grill makes all the difference.

상추 (saeng-choo) - Lettuce.
Usually provided as a vessel for 쌈 (ssam), the act of wrapping up a mixture of sides, meat and.... 
쌈장 (ssam-jahng) - Lettuce-wrap sauce
Not to be mistaken for pepper paste (고추장) or fermented bean paste (된장), this lettuce-wrap sauce (쌈장) is actually a mixture of the two.  So based on their portions it tends to be redder and spicier or browner and saltier, depending on each restaurant's secret recipe.  It probably belongs in the next category.


간장 (gahn-jahng) - Soy Sauce
The term also applies generally to any soy-based dipping sauce.  Varies greatly from place to place.

Sometimes referred to as:

소스 (so-seuh) - "Sauce"
기름장 (gi-leum-jahng) - Sesame oil sauce
Be sure to lubricate that hunk of meat before stuffing it down your throat.
막창장 (makchang jahng) - Makchang Sauce
Made from peanut and bean powder, add shredded pepper (고추) and spring onions (파).  This is the standard sauce for meat from a pig's digestive system, like Makchang (막창) or Gopchang (곱창).
양념(yang-nyum) - Spicy marinade
Meat is usually served pre-marinated, although sometimes an extra dipping tray is provided, especially at a restaurant that takes pride in their sauce.
소금 (so-geum) - Salt
The greatest invention known to mankind.  Preserves food for long voyages of discovery, inspires civil disobedience against British imperialism, and most importantly, adds flavor to food.

새우젓 (say-ooo juht) - Shrimp sauce
These baby shrimps add extra saltiness.  A common condiment for steamed/boiled pork, such as Bossam (보쌈) or Jokbal (족발). 
초장 (cho jahng) - Vinegar sauce
This sauce is made of vinegar (초식) and red peppers (고추).  It's sour and spicy and commonly served with seafood.


된장찌개 (dwen-jahng jji-gae) - Fermented bean-paste soup
Contains assorted veggies, tofu and sometimes meat in a thick spicy broth.  Homemade by most establishments, it varies greatly in flavor, potency and exact ingredients.  Therefore, may serve as a measure of a restaurant's quality and devotion.
계란탕 (gyae-lan tang) - Egg soup
A light and bland freebie sometimes served at BBQ places.  
물김치 (mool kimchi) - Kimchi in water

콩나물국 (kong-na-mool gook) - Bean sprout soup

오뎅 (O-daeng) - Thick noodle soup

General Banchan Types

나물 (na-mool) - 
Various veggies cooked with "water," meaning boiled or steamed, then usually seasoned.  Pictured examples:

  • 콩나물 - Bean sprouts
  • 시금치나물 - Spinach
  • 미역무침 - Seaweed
볶음 (bokk-eum) -
Means stir-fried in an oiled pan.  Can refer to a main dish, such as 볶음밥 (fried rice).  In the case of side dishes it is usually seafood or veggies, often marinated in spicy pepper paste.  Pictured examples:

  • 오징어볶음 - Squid stir-fried
  • 버섯볶음 - Mushrooms stir-fried
  • 오뎅볶음 - Fish cake stir-fried

전 (juhn) -
Battered and fried "pancakes," usually containing vegetables or seafood.  Pictured examples:
  • 김치두부전 - Kimchi tofu pancake
  • 파전 - Spring onion pancake

More Kimchi!

  • 오이김치 - Cucumber kimchi
  • 깍두기 - Radish kimchi
  • 백김치 - "White" kimchi