When it gets really hot outside like it has been lately, I crave the little cold Korean side dishes called banchan. My last CSA Box included some lovely cucumbers, perfect for making a quick Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad “Banchan.”
Lately, I’ve been making a lot of little Korean side dishes using the fresh vegetables in my CSA Boxes, including a Quick Kohlrabi “Kim Chi” Salad, Korean Spinach Salad “Banchan,” and a Quick Vegetarian Napa Cabbage Kim Chi. I could make a whole meal out of banchan and a bowl of rice; in fact, that’s my favorite part of the meal whenever we eat at our local Korean restaurant. Korean meals can be accompanied by anywhere from 3, at its most basic, to 12 banchan (used in Royal Korean cuisine).
Banchan are very easy to prepare at home. The only trick is that if you want a variety of banchan to enjoy at a single meal, then you will have to spend a little more time preparing several of these little dishes.
Typically, banchan are single vegetable dishes that are quickly prepared, whether they are simply sauteed like Summer Squash or Zucchini “Banchan,” or marinated raw, like the Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad “Banchan” I made today. The Korean red pepper flakes used in Kim Chi and many banchan can be found at Asian grocery stores. Although the red pepper flakes I bought came in a rather large bag, I’ve been using them up pretty quickly with all the Kim Chi and banchan I’ve been making. I just love the bright red color of these red pepper flakes. Although they are spicy, they’re not as spicy as they look.
This Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad “Banchan” is quite spicy, so adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to suit your taste.
|Korean Red Pepper Flakes are a vibrant red, and a bit spicy.|
Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad “Banchan”
Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to your taste. If you like it even spicier, add some gochujang (contains wheat, so leave out for gluten-free version). I like this cucumber salad best after it has had a chance to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.
- 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes, depending on taste
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon gochujang, optional (contains wheat, so leave out for gluten-free version)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar
- Combine cucumbers and salt in a colander and place over a bowl or in the sink. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Place salted cucumbers on a layer of paper towels and pat dry.
- Combine red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, gochujang (if using), sesame seeds, garlic, sesame oil and sugar in a bowl.
- Add cucumbers and toss well.
- Serve chilled.