The Funky, Flavorful Side Dishes to Complete Any Korean Meal

“Banchan is very important to me,” says Sunny Lee, who leads the banchan program at the Korean restaurant Insa in Brooklyn, New York. “It has a very long history in Korea.”

Banchan means side dish in Korean, but in reality it’s a bunch of small dishes…

"Banchan is very important to me," says Sunny Lee, who leads the banchan program at the Korean restaurant Insa in Brooklyn, New York. "It has a very long history in Korea."

Banchan means side dish in Korean, but in reality it's a bunch of small dishes filled to the brim with pickles and the like that scatter the table at lunch or dinner. And if you've ever eaten at a Korean barbecue restaurant, or somewhere more traditional, you'll know them by their multitude, and that they all somehow fit together: often different kimchis and beans, or sprouts and tiny fish to snack on before and with a meal. I asked Sunny, and Michael Stokes, Insa's chef de cuisine, to give me a lowdown on banchan, and how its history details much of Korea's itself.

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What’s the Deal With Dalgona Cookies From ‘Squid Game’?

First, it was viewers’ obsession with Netflix food documentaries like Chef’s Table and Ugly Delicious. Next, everyone was talking about the Boom Boom Lemon Drink from Netflix’s Kate.” And now the internet can’t get enough of Dalgona Cookies, a popular South Korean street food that has captivated Squid Game viewers. Netflix’s new dramatic television show follows hundreds of cash-strapped contestants who are invited to participate in a bizarre series of children’s games. The ultimate prize is tens of millions of dollars. Those who lose are faced with deadly consequences. But along the way, a sweet challenge awaits.

What Are Dalgona Cookies?

Dalgona, which means “honeycomb toffee” in Korean, is a type of candy that rose in popularity after the Korean War. Note: this is not to be confused with Dalgona Coffee, the viral whipped coffee drink that took TikTok by storm earlier this year. Rather, it’s an inexpensive dessert that is made with just sugar and baking soda. TikTok User Cooking With Lynja tried her hand at making Dalgona Cookies—she starts by melting granulated sugar in a skillet over medium-high heat. She adds a little bit of baking soda, mixes it with the sugar until it starts to thicken and then pours the mixture into thin discs on a pre-lined baking sheet. She uses a bowl to flatten them even further, though you could certainly use a cup or plate. And then the real fun begins.

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First, it was viewers’ obsession with Netflix food documentaries like Chef’s Table and Ugly Delicious. Next, everyone was talking about the Boom Boom Lemon Drink from Netflix’s Kate.” And now the internet can’t get enough of Dalgona Cookies, a popular South Korean street food that has captivated Squid Game viewers. Netflix’s new dramatic television show follows hundreds of cash-strapped contestants who are invited to participate in a bizarre series of children’s games. The ultimate prize is tens of millions of dollars. Those who lose are faced with deadly consequences. But along the way, a sweet challenge awaits.

What Are Dalgona Cookies?

Dalgona, which means “honeycomb toffee” in Korean, is a type of candy that rose in popularity after the Korean War. Note: this is not to be confused with Dalgona Coffee, the viral whipped coffee drink that took TikTok by storm earlier this year. Rather, it's an inexpensive dessert that is made with just sugar and baking soda. TikTok User Cooking With Lynja tried her hand at making Dalgona Cookies—she starts by melting granulated sugar in a skillet over medium-high heat. She adds a little bit of baking soda, mixes it with the sugar until it starts to thicken and then pours the mixture into thin discs on a pre-lined baking sheet. She uses a bowl to flatten them even further, though you could certainly use a cup or plate. And then the real fun begins.

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A Documentary All About Korean Cold Noodles? We’re In.

Netflix’s newest food program is a splash into cold foods, namely cold noodles, ideal for this time of the year. Korean Cold Noodle Rhapsody, which came out this past Friday, is a two-part documentary series that explores the complex nuances defining o…

Netflix’s newest food program is a splash into cold foods, namely cold noodles, ideal for this time of the year. Korean Cold Noodle Rhapsody, which came out this past Friday, is a two-part documentary series that explores the complex nuances defining one of Korea’s most beloved and seemingly simple dishes: naengmyeon.

Naengmyeon translates literally to “chilled noodles,” and typically, it’s considered a summertime staple. But it turns out, there’s so much more to it. Hosted by South Korean chef and food researcher Paik Jong-Won, the series is a follow-up to 2020’s Korean Pork Belly Rhapsody. This second chapter journals Paik as he travels to different parts of Korea, from the cities of Seoul, Jinju, and Busan, to the islands of Baengnyeongdo and Jeju, to taste how naengmyeon varies from region to region. “Other people may see [naengmyun] as another item on a menu but it’s unique to us,” Paik says in the show. “I’d love for people all over the world to learn why we eat this and what the advantages are. I want to share with them what its secrets are.” As such, viewers are served countless bowls of noodles by proxy of Paik’s intense slurps, gulps, and thoughtful explanations of how each eats. But even he is just one part of the complete noodle oracle.

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14 Flavor-Packed Recipes for the Best Korean Barbecue

There’s no barbecue quite like Korean barbecue. The glorious feast, often reserved for restaurants that specialize in the technique, is defined by air saturated with smoke and tables that quite literally sizzle, due to the grills installed smack-dab in…

There’s no barbecue quite like Korean barbecue. The glorious feast, often reserved for restaurants that specialize in the technique, is defined by air saturated with smoke and tables that quite literally sizzle, due to the grills installed smack-dab in the middle. It’s a meal that seems to never end—in addition to the food you order, such as kalbi and kimchi tofu stew, there’s a smorgasbord of complimentary banchan, or side dishes, that get constantly (and generously) refilled.

While Korean barbecue makes for an extraordinary dining out experience, it shouldn’t strictly be considered restaurant cuisine. Though it’s a multicourse meal, it’s not tough to successfully execute at home if you think beyond the humble backyard franks and patties. Korean barbecue is so customizable, fun, and easy to assemble that you can actually whip it up in your own kitchen—hybrid grilling tables not required.

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A Viral Hack for Homemade Tteok in Minutes

I come from a long line of tteokbokki lovers on my mom’s side of the family. A few years ago, I even set up a Google Alert that updates me on the latest fusion flavor twists, snack launches, cutesy merch—and one hack I had to try.

Tteokbokki—spicy, st…

I come from a long line of tteokbokki lovers on my mom’s side of the family. A few years ago, I even set up a Google Alert that updates me on the latest fusion flavor twists, snack launches, cutesy merch—and one hack I had to try.

Tteokbokki—spicy, stir-fried rice cakes—is a​ staple dish in South Korea​, often sold from street carts​ and at snack shops​. Tteok traditionally come in two shapes: Tteokguk-tteok, thinly sliced circles, are the slurpable star of Dduk Guk (aka tteokguk), rice cake soup. Garaetteok, finger-sized cylinders, are the preferred vessel in saucier dishes like tteokbokki.

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All About Minari, the Peppery, Bright, Wonderful Vegetable

If you haven’t seen Minari yet, drop everything now and go watch it. Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s award-winning semi-autobiographical film is a profoundly moving tale of a multigenerational Korean American family setting down roots in the Arkansas…

If you haven’t seen Minari yet, drop everything now and go watch it. Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s award-winning semi-autobiographical film is a profoundly moving tale of a multigenerational Korean American family setting down roots in the Arkansas Ozarks of the 1980s. The father, Jacob (played by Steven Yeun), dreams of success as a farmer after a decade of grueling labor in the poultry industry in California. But the move strains the family’s bonds, particularly on the arrival of Jacob’s mother-in-law Soonja (played by the legendary Youn Yuh-jung), from South Korea. Amidst the current wave of anti-Asian hate crimes across the country, part of a long legacy of violence toward, and erasure of, Asian communities and identities within the broader American story, this film is all the more powerful and urgent.

Once you have finished watching Minari, though, the next thing you should do is eat it. The film’s namesake, which halmoni Soonja plants on the bank of a stream early in the film, is a hollow-stemmed, leafy vegetable with a green, peppery flavor and a hint of bitterness. As director Chung explains, “[t]he interesting thing about it is that it’s a plant that will grow very strongly in its second season after it has died and come back. So there’s an element of that in the film…. It’s a poetic plant in a way for me.” It is also delicious. If this is the first you’re hearing about minari (or Minari), let this serve as an introduction.

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21 Kimchi Recipes To Fire Up Dinner Tonight

A jar full of kimchi is a beautiful thing. It sits in my fridge like a bright, orange beacon calling me to tangy, comforting bites—especially in this bitter cold. Salty, spicy, crunchy kimchi is the perfect solution for instant warmth and zip. The com…

A jar full of kimchi is a beautiful thing. It sits in my fridge like a bright, orange beacon calling me to tangy, comforting bites—especially in this bitter cold. Salty, spicy, crunchy kimchi is the perfect solution for instant warmth and zip. The complex, fermented flavors of cabbage, radishes, cucumbers, garlic (and just about any other vegetable you can think of) usually pack enough heat that I keep a glass of water nearby. Plus, it keeps for ages (some might argue forever), making it an ever-dependable dinner helper.

I’m more than happy to eat kimchi straight from the jar, but if you’re looking to add depth to rice bowls and noodle salads, or brightness to heavy stews and crispy french toast, here are 21 ways to use up that jar.

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This Is How We Celebrate Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving

Happy Chuseok!

Photo by Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service

You might be able to readily identify what the third Thursday of November is, but w…

Happy Chuseok! Photo by Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service

You might be able to readily identify what the third Thursday of November is, but what about the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar?

To Koreans, this time is called Chuseok, also known as Hangawi. And as big as Thanksgiving is in the U.S., Chuseok is huge in Korea. It's one of the country's most significant holidays of the year, and could even be called Korean Thanksgiving.

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The Crispy, Cheesy Midnight Snack That Happened Completely By Mistake

Lobster blow-torched until crispy. Pots of fried chicken bubbling away. Giant mung bean pancakes flipped on a griddle. Endless skewers of meat sizzling, filling the air with a cloud of eau de pork belly. These are the sights, sounds, and smells that ha…

Lobster blow-torched until crispy. Pots of fried chicken bubbling away. Giant mung bean pancakes flipped on a griddle. Endless skewers of meat sizzling, filling the air with a cloud of eau de pork belly. These are the sights, sounds, and smells that haunted my dreams—the street food of Seoul, South Korea.

Weaving around crowds of people holding overflowing plates of piping-hot savory and sweet snacks—while simultaneously trying to find a wall to lean on and dive into a giant cabbage-and-egg-stuffed sandwich—was my hope for 2020. I was desperate to go to Seoul for the first time in 2020, but COVID derailed my plans.

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Hooni Kim’s Crisp-Golden Pajeon Are All About the Scallions

COVID-19 changed the restaurant industry as we knew it. And even as businesses begin to reopen across the country, there are countless challenges ahead. In this series, Restaurant Quality, we’re checking in with a few of our favorite chef-slash–cookboo…

COVID-19 changed the restaurant industry as we knew it. And even as businesses begin to reopen across the country, there are countless challenges ahead. In this series, Restaurant Quality, we're checking in with a few of our favorite chef-slash–cookbook authors and seeing how they're holding up. Along the way, you'll get signature recipes to make at home—and find out how you can support the chefs and their staffs. Today, get to know Hooni Kim.


Hooni Kim loves seeing people enjoy his food. In fact, the chef cites this as the best part of running his New York City restaurants Danji and Hanjan. Of course, right now, his restaurants aren’t open for usual service, so this side of the business—making people happy—is hard to see.

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