Banchan

Kimchi

Banchan [ban-chuhn] refers to small dishes of food served along with cooked rice in Korean cuisine. This word is used both in the singular and plural. The basic table setting for a meal called ‘bansang’ (usually consists of bap (cooked rice), guk or tang (soup), gochujang or ganjang (fermented condiments), jjigae (tofu stew), and kimchi (fermented cabbage). Kimchi is the essential banchan of a standard Korean meal. Some Koreans do not consider a meal complete without kimchi.

According to the number of banchan that is added, the table setting is called as 3 cheop, 5 cheop, 7 cheop, 9 cheop, or 12 cheop bansang, with the 12 cheop used in Korean royal cuisine. Banchan are set in the middle of the table to be shared. At the center of the table is the secondary main course, such as galbi or bulgogi (grilled meats), and a shared pot of jjigae. Bowls of cooked rice and guk (soup) are set individually. Banchan are served in small portions, meant to be finished at each meal and are replenished during the meal if not enough. Usually, the more formal the meals are, the more banchan there will be. Jeolla province is particularly famous for serving many different varieties of banchan in a single meal.

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