menu planning and banchan matching please!!

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    Annyeong-hasaeyo everyone,

    great to be on this forum of Korean food lovers!

    I was wondering if anyone could please point me in the right direction of putting together a proper Korean meal, especially in terms of what recipe goes well with what banchan and what other recipes so as to plan a meal that “makes sense”, if that makes sense ;)

    With so many banchan and recipes and my very limited experience of Korean food I’m finding it hard to figure out, and am curious to know how Korean people would match their food on the table.

    Thanks for your help!




    I’m not very good at banchan planning either. My family always just made what they were wanting/craving. I pretty much can eat whatever banchan with whatever main dish and soup. With that being said, I do know that we Koreans are all about balance. Meaning, have sweet banchan as well as a salty. Spicy and non spicy….also balance your colors….green, red, yellow, brown/black, etc….hope this helps



    This is a difficult subject. Because the combinations are endless.

    Also since korean culture and food are quickly changing it may be difficult to nail this subject down.

    If you have a chance to go to Korea or a large US city that has a large korean population and going to korean markets and restaurants may give you a bit more insight.

    Or if you have the chance to visit/live/eat with a korean family that has one dedicated “stay at home” family member who subscribes to cooking traditional korean food for the family would be ideal.

    Finally your own preferences will be the ultimate guide.

    With that being said, rice, tea, kimchi, soup/consommé, kochijung and soybean paste may be said to be essential to every meal. And fruit to end the meal.

    Seasonal foods help to determine what might be on the table. But not a mandate as dried goods can allow certain dishes to appear at anytime of the year e.g. kosari.

    Some very popular side dishes that go well with any menu imho are, spinach salad, fish cake, sautéed dry anchovies, radish kimchi, pickled garlic, pickled peppers, soy bean sprout salad, sauteed mushrooms, lettuce leaves, seasoned sesame/perilla leaves.

    Below is one menu you might try:

    Menu 1
    1) rice
    2) kimchi – traditional Napa cabbage
    3) bulgogi
    4) lettuce leaves rinsed in water with a few drops of sesame oil
    5) soybean paste
    6) kochijung paste
    7) sliced fresh jalapeños
    8) corn or barley tea
    9) green onion soup

    Hope this helps.



    I like to use contrasting flavors such as:

    Cabbage kimchi or spicy pickled veggies with Bulgogi or any main dish with a hint of sweetness.

    Danmuji or sweet pickled veggies with a Spicy Jjigae.

    My dipping sauce for kimchi dumplings is mostly sweet soy and mirin because they are already fairly spicy. My dipping sauce for pork dumplings has more heat.

    Main dishes may also include something almost neutral such as a mild cucumber and onion salad, water kimchi or a beansprout side dish. I cant claim its very traditional but it works for me. Its been so long since i was in Korea i just dont remember.



    Just curious, but how to you eat soybean and red pepper paste with the meal? I know it’s probably a stupid question, but do you eat it with the rice, or is it an additional seasoning for the side dishes? Forgive me I know nothing about Korean table manners…



    soybean paste and red pepper paste are similar to American condiments like mayo and mustard. or like a dipping sauce, like a thick onion dip.

    one way to use it is to take a lettuce leaf spread a small amount on the leaf like you would mayo or mustard on a slice of bread for a sandwich, then a bit of rice and meat like bulgogi fold into a bundle and eat like a dumpling of sorts.

    of course that is just one example there many different uses

    however before using you need to add a few ingredients, you don’t use it straight out of the container. I think there is a video on that though.


    Foodie Anthony

    Hey there Heinza,
    I will try my best to answer this question. I take it this is for dinner table so As a korean myself, I’ll just share what my dinner table looks like on a typical night.

    1. tofu and kimchi bokkuem :
    I usually have Gae Ran JJim (using 3 eggs rolled up with scallion and crab), that’s banchan 1, must have banchan 2 which is gim (salted seaweed) I really enjoy this with rice of course and kimchi, but I usually stir fry my kimchi with pork belly and set them next to sliced tofu (call is tofu kimchi bbokeum), I can add sliced pork belly to this if I want to or not with little bit of chamgi ruem (seseme oil)

    2. soon dubu jjigae :
    for this table setting, banchan will be kkak TTu Gi (MU a korean radish marinated with hot pepper just like kimchi), you can add different types of kimchi, there are several, and pa jeon (green onion pancake), gae ran jjim (korean steamed egg), and if you can spare fish, then do grilled fish like mackeral.

    well that’s just two of many ways you can set up your table, I’ve added some pictures of what typical set up should look like on my facebook page if you’d like to check it out. and attached image for these two set up.

    1. 8003252184-823b7883a9


    Thank you sawesaydoe! That makes sense



    Check out my blog post about typical Korean homestyle table setting here.

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