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Sunday Lunches: Korean Banchan and Bibimbap

Bowl of korean bibimbap

We love to eat out and try a variety of cuisines. This time I wanted to recreate a Korean dish at home after watching hundreds of Reels on making Korean cucumber salad.

I love that Korean meals have a variety of sides, called banchan, that can be paired with rice; they include greens, vegetables, meats or tofu, pickles, and sauces. Once you get them together in a bowl, you have a full meal called bibimbap. It’s a satisfying, delicious, healthy meal to be made and had at leisure.

Bibimbap literally translates to mixed rice, and you can mix and match different ingredients to make your personalised bowl of this delicacy. The variety of banchan might look intimidating to make, but they’re quite easy, and most of them can be made beforehand. 

Korean Banchan

Banchan is a side dish served with rice and is mostly plant-based. There are hundreds of different varieties you can try depending on your preference and the availability of ingredients. Here are three dishes I made in advance.

Korean Pickled Garlic

This is by far the most time-consuming item to make because it needs time to pickle. I made this almost 45 days ago since the garlic took so long to soften. I used the recipe from Korean Bapsang, which was easy to make. 

In the first stage of soaking the garlic in brine, mine turned green after a few days, but that is normal and doesn’t alter the taste or texture. The pickle is pungent, so I had it with rice to tone down the strong taste.

Korean Cucumber Salad

bowl of spiced cucumbers
  • 5 English cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Gochujang paste or Gochugaru powder
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp salt (I used a teaspoon of miso instead)

Soak the sliced cucumbers in salted water for 15 minutes, then drain the water. Mix all ingredients making sure to cover all the slices. Refrigerate till you need to use it.

Soy Peanuts

bowl of soy braised peanuts

The original recipe calls for a few specialised ingredients that are not readily available or won’t get much use at my house. I made these with a few basic ingredients, which turned out great.

  • 1 cup fresh groundnuts, peeled and boiled
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • A sprinkle of sesame seeds

Drain the water from the boiled peanuts and add the rest of the ingredients into a saucepan.

If the liquids do not fully cover the peanuts, then add a tablespoon of water.

Boil on medium heat until the liquid evaporates, frequently stirring, so the peanuts don’t burn.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.

Banchan Options

  • Kimchi
  • Stir-fried bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and/or spinach 
  • Nori sheets
  • Fried egg
  • Cooked carrots or radish strips
  • Stir-fried mushrooms

These are just a few options, and there are plenty of ways to make them. I stuck to the basic ginger-garlic salt and pepper seasoning for the stir-fried items.


I used this recipe from Korean Bapsang as a guide and modified it based on what I could find.

Jasmine Rice

The traditional way to cook Jasmine rice is to steam it, but I just wash it and put it in the pressure cooker. I used 2 cups for 4 people.


The dish calls for strips of meat. However, I just got some chicken cubes and marinated them for an hour before throwing them all in the frying pan on high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side.

For about 500 grams of chicken, the marinade I used was

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 string of green onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Bibimbap Sauce

korean bibimbap

Assembling the Bibimbap

Since everything cannot be served piping hot, this dish must be at room temperature. Start by placing the rice at the centre of your dish, then add the other items on the side, with a tablespoon of the bibimbap sauce. 

Top with a fried egg (optional).

You could have each item separately with the rice or mix it all in one go. Either way, it is delicious.

Note: Some links are part of an affiliate program, which means that if you click on a link and buy something, I might receive a percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you. 

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