Attending college for the first time often means having to give up eating warm, delicious, signature home-cooked meals that are often taken for granted while growing up. Especially in a Korean-American household, we often eat meals with a base of rice (brown or white) with a variety of side dishes collectively called banchan. These side dishes are masterfully created using recipes that are often passed down in families for generations. Some of the most widely known side dishes are kimchi and roasted seaweed laverwhich now can be found in prepackaged containers at many local supermarkets. However, banchan consists of much more than just these two popularized dishes. It can range from simple 5-minute fried egg rolls to 1-day braised beans. As a college student, instant rice packs and store-bought kimchi can only do so much to satisfy your craving for the innumerable other banchan that you grew to love and cherish. Here are five easy, delicious, and lesser-known Korean side-dishes to remind you of home or inspire you to make them yourself!

1. Soy-braised beans- Kongjaban

A fairly simple but popular side-dish is soy-braised beans, which is considered a "mit-banchan," meaning it is commonly served at every meal. Although the recipe itself is fairly simple, it is quite time-consuming, often involving an overnight soaking on top of the 30-40 minute cook time. However, it can be said that the taste is truly worth the wait, with a rich sweet and salty flavor as well as its slightly chewy texture that pairs just right with a spoonful of rice. If you are interested, feel free to check out some easy-to-follow recipes from Crazy Korean Cooking or Korean Bapsang

2. Stir-Fried Fishcakes- Eomuk bokkeum

In Korean culture, fishcakes are often enjoyed by themselves or paired with tteokboki, or spicy rice cakes. However, did you know that they can also be served on their own as banchan? Despite its name, eomuk bokkeum does not particularly taste "fishy," but rather tastes a little sweet and savory with a soft texture. This side-dish is not nearly as time-consuming as the previous kongjaban, but is by no means any less delicious! An easy, classic recipe can be found in My Korean Kitchen, whereas one with a spicier kick can be located in

3. Egg roll omelette- Gyeran mari

Eggs are probably one of the most versatile ingredients in the world of food. They can be served alone boiled or fried, or even combined with other ingredients to form extravagant dishes like pastries and pancakes. However, as a banchan, eggs are fried with a few other ingredients into omelettes, which are then cut up into bite-sized pieces. The result is called gyeran mari. Much like the name, these mini omelette bites are light, eggy, and taste absolutely amazing when eaten with rice. When in a pinch in terms of ingredients, this side-dish can be a lifesaver; the baseline recipe only involves eggs, a little bit of salt, some oil for frying, and diced green onion, which are a staple in the Korean household. However, many variations exist, such as recipes with chopped carrots and others with roasted seaweed.

4. Spicy Braised Tofu- Dubu jorim

Tofu has been rising in the world of food as a healthy, yet equally delicious alternative protein source. Also a popular ingredient in many Korean dishes, it can simply be served fried or thrown into a stew like Korean soybean paste stew, also known as doenjang jjigae. As a side dish, though, tofu can be combined with various other ingredients to form spicy braised tofu, or dubu jorim. With its salty, spicy flavor and soft texture, this side dish is complementary to the milder flavor of rice. Recipes can vary from family to family, but one easy example can be found in a Korean cuisine blog, the futuredish.

5. Soybean sprouts dish- Kongnamul muchim

Last but not least on this list is soybean sprouts, also referred to as kongnamul. Soybean sprouts are widely used in Korean cuisine, often found in various stews or served in a popular mixed rice dish known as bibimbap. However, when mixed with a couple other ingredients and about a 15 minute cook time, kongnamul can turn into kongnamul muchim. As this dish is quite mild on its own, recipes can vary based on personal preference. For instance, those who seek a slightly spicier dish can add in red pepper flakes to their liking. However, the very basic, non-spicy recipe can be found on various Korean cooking websites, like this one via "drivemehungry."  

Ranging from having a mild taste to a spicy kick, or softer texture to a chewier consistency, the one thing all banchan have in common is a complementary taste to rice. It is not uncommon to see multiple banchan served during a meal. This means that each spoonful of rice can be paired with any side-dish, or even a combination of two side -dishes. All in all, the ones listed in this article are only five of the countless other banchan that Koreans have grown to love and cherish throughout their lives. So when the homesickness hits, it's not a bad idea to whip up some of these easy recipes to satisfy your craving for authentic Korean cuisine.

For more banchan recipes, check out some Korean cuisine blogs!