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The Funky, Flavorful Side Dishes to Complete Any Korean Meal

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The Funky, Flavorful Side Dishes to Complete Any Korean Meal

“Banchan is very important to me,” says Sunny Lee, who leads the banchan program at the Korean restaurant Insa in Brooklyn, New York. “It has a very long history in Korea.”

Banchan means side dish in Korean, but in reality it’s a bunch of small dishes filled to the brim with pickles and the like that scatter the table at lunch or dinner. And if you’ve ever eaten at a Korean barbecue restaurant, or somewhere more traditional, you’ll know them by their multitude, and that they all somehow fit together: often different kimchis and beans, or sprouts and tiny fish to snack on before and with a meal. I asked Sunny, and Michael Stokes, Insa’s chef de cuisine, to give me a lowdown on banchan, and how its history details much of Korea’s itself.

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