3 Easy Korean Sides


May 22, 2015 by Sarah


It’s so nice to be back in a cooking groove. I feel like I’m feeding my family well and that I have good options on hand for when my pregnant body needs a little something-something, which is almost every hour or two these days! I haven’t had a ton of cravings lately (well, except for some really strong desires for CHOCOLATE), I just feel hungry, all the time.

The last few weeks, we’ve had a good sized jar of kimchi in our fridge so a lot of Korean food has been coming out of our kitchen to go with it. I crave Korean food pretty often, both when I’m pregnant and when I’m not! Korean food for me is all about the banchan, those little small plates that add so much to the meal. I’m fine with just rice, kimchi and some meat or tofu-centric main, but if I have a few other sides to go with it, it takes things to a whole other level. The following sides have been on our table recently and each one of them is so, so easy to make.


The first up is quick pickled cucumbers. The base of the recipe is from Roy Choi’s cookbook, you know, the guy who made Korean tacos a thing. All the recipes are at the bottom of this post, but with this one, I don’t even measure. I just cut up the cucumbers, add the sesame oil and vinegar, then give Gianna a salt shaker and sesame seeds to season herself. The last time when I tasted it, it was pretty salty. But after letting it sit for a little bit, the water that naturally came out from the cucumbers diluted it and it was still great. Meaning, it’s hard to mess up.


And then next, we have assorted pickled vegetables.

DSC_8242What I love about this one is that the recipe is so easy to remember (equal parts soy sauce, white vinegar, and sugar) and you can throw so many different things into it. My favorites are Korean radish and Korean pepper, but I’ve also had it with chunks of carrot and celery, and I’m sure you could experiment with so many more things too.



And lastly, steamed chard with doen-jang (soy-bean paste).


This one is just two ingredients, but the second one you might not necessarily have in your kitchen. Doen-jang is a staple Korean pantry ingredient that you can find in Korean stores and Asian markets. This one is pretty earthy tasting and my least favorite of the three, but it’s a nice way to use the chard coming out of our garden and it also rounds out a set of banchan really nicely.

So, now for the recipes. Enjoy!

Korean Quick Pickled Cucumbers, adapted from Roy Choi’s recipe

4 cucumbers (Persian, Korean, or Japanese cucumbers work best)
1-2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
a few teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
optional chopped green onion
optional pinch of sugar, black pepper, and Korean red pepper flakes

Rinse and dry the cucumbers. Slice them thinly, with a mandoline or by hand. Add all the other ingredients and give everything a good mix. You can eat it right then, but if you let is sit in the fridge for 30 minutes the flavors will really come out.

Assorted Pickled Vegetables 

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 small Korean radish, cut into small chunks
3 Korean peppers (they’re not spicy), sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
a handful of garlic cloves
1/2 white onion, chopped into chunks
optional: bit size-able chunks of carrot, celery, and any other vegetable you think would pickle well!

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar in a bowl. Prep the vegetables and place them into a mason jar or other container. Pour the liquid over. Push the vegetables down so that everything is covered. Leave the jar out for a day or two, depending on how sour you would like the vegetables. Refrigerate after and eat. When you finish all the vegetables, you can add new ones into the leftover sauce and enjoy all over again.

Steamed Chard with Doen-Jang

1 bunch chard
a few tablespoons doen-jang.

Wash the chard and roughly chop, into pieces that are about 1-2 inches in size. Put into a saucepan, add a few tablespoons of water, and cover. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 6 minutes. Take off the heat, drain out any remaining water, then mix in the doen-jang. 


  1. Jenny Power says:

    Sarah I made your pickled vegetables once and my husband and I are hooked. I add a little nuoc mam sauce and sriracha. So great. Last time we added the vegetables and sauce to the top of some fried rice I made, really good topping. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  2. P. G. says:

    Awesome! Every time I watch a show where they’re eating all these great side dishes, I wonder how they make it. Thanks for the recipes for some of them! Excited to try it!

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