Simple Asian Sides

Banchan come in an assortment of flavour and texture, and give a very easy way of incorporating many different elements into just one meal. The best thing about it is that they can all be prepared beforehand and stored for a week or more at a time, meaning that all you have to do come dinner time is prepare the rice and a ‘main’ dish (steamed fish, anyone?), and with the banchan on the table, there’s more than enough flavour to keep the tastebuds happy.

These two are adaptations are variants on Japanese dishes – soybean and wakame salads, but with slight twists to make them slightly more Korean (though I have to admit that the wakame dish is a well-loved Korean standard, that sort of dish transfer tends to happen when one country occupies another.

Edamame Salad
(Adapted from What Did You Eat)

1 cup fresh/frozen shelled edamame (soy beans)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1-2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1-2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup flaked almonds (toasted or untoasted is up to you)
1-2 spring onions, thinly sliced on a bias
1 tsp gochugaru (substitute with chilli flakes if necessary)

1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and season with a generous pinch of salt, then add the edamame and boil for 3-5 minutes, or till tender. Rinse in cold water, then drain well. At this point you may want to remove the outer skin – I did as I had frozen beans and I find the skins on frozen beans to be icky but if you had fresh beans then it should be fine.

2. Tip the beans into a small bowl, then add the salt, sugar, sesame seeds and vinegar and toss to combine. Give this a taste, then give it a taste. The flavour you want to achieve here is a good balance between sweet and sour, with a certain depth and nuttiness added by the sesame. Add the gochugaru/chilli flakes and half the sesame oil, toss and taste again, and if it’s OK now, add in the spring onion and flaked almonds and toss once more to combine before serving.

3. Serve immediately, but it can also be stored in the fridge for up to a week – though the almonds can get a little soft in the moisture.

Wakame and Cucumber Salad

20g dried wakame leaves (get a good quality Japanese product as the Korean brands tend to have the thick, stringy stems attached)
1 small Lebanese (or similar sweet, thin-skinned cucumber)
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp gochugaru (can be substituted with chilli flakes)
1-2 tbsp brown sugar

1. Soak the wakame in 2-3 cups of cold water (this will expand a LOT in size!) and leave to sit for about 15-20 minutes.

2. Once the wakame is fully rehydrated and soft to the touch, drain and carefully squeeze out any excess water – you don’t want to mush the wakame, but any water will dilute the flavour and make the whole dish…watery. Funny that, ey?

3. Set aside the drained wakame, then cut the cucumber lengthwise in half and again across the width so you have four fingers, then use a teaspoon to carefully scoop out just the seeds (they too will dilute the flavour and make this dish watery). Slice each cucumber length into thin strips (as in the photo), then add to the wakame.

4. Place the wakame and cucumber in a bowl, then add the flavourings and toss well to evenly combine. Give it a taste and adjust as necessary (you want to achieve an equal balance between sweet, vinegary and spicy), then serve immediately. This can also be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

There you have it – two quick and easy banchan to add flavour to your meals!

[tags]recipes, Asian, Korean, Japanese, side dishes, vegetarian[/tags]

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  1. u didnt make it for normal people, next time try doing something easy :(

    • These recipes are very, very basic. I’m not sure what you mean about not making it “for normal people”, but I would say that if these recipes are too difficult for you, then the other side dish recipes I have would be too much effort.

  2. Jozia your comment is rude and nonsensical. Who are the “normal people” you speak of? I love Ellie’s recipes. This is clearly not the website for you. Try mac and cheese if you want something more basic.

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