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If you have been a fan of Korean food, you probably already know what I’m talking about today.  But for some people, 반찬 is a word they have never heard of.  Still for others, Korean style 반찬 is a concept that they do not often enjoy while eating.  So what exactly is 반찬?

Meaning of 반찬

반찬 is the Korean word meaning side dish.  However, Korean side dishes can be very different compared side dishes in other countries.  For example, it is common in the United States to have only 1 or 2 side dishes with a meal.  (Hamburger and fries, hot dogs and potato salad, fried chicken with mashed potatoes and coleslaw.)  However, with Korean food, there can be a wide variety of side dishes to chose from.  These can include some western side dishes like potato and macaroni salad, to more traditional Korean sides like bean sprouts and acorn jelly.

Most Popular 반찬

Of all of the Korean side dishes you can have, the most popular side dish by far is Kimchi.  Sometimes, you can have 3- 4 different types of Kimchi with one meal.  The Kimchi that you will find most often is one make with Napa Cabbage.  But you can have Kimchi made with different types of vegetables, including Radish, Cucumber and different types of Greens.  Some Kimchis are sour, salty, slightly sweet or spicy.  No matter what your taste buds are like, there’s probably a type of Kimchi for you.

While you can enjoy Korean food without 반찬, it won’t be the same.  The sides compliment the meat and rice to perfection, creating a balance that is both tasty and healthy at the same time.  Many restaurants will change up the 반찬 combinations each day of the week.  This can help to provide variety to your Korean meal, even if you order the same thing each time you go out to eat.   So don’t be afraid to try the side dishes the next time you go out for Korean food.  You’ll never know what combination you’ll enjoy next.