There’s a word for those complimentary side dishes you get at your favorite Asian restaurant. You know what I’m talking about – the three to five dishes of brightly colored vegetable slaws, the intriguing shades of fermented soybeans and the golden cubes of gogoma jorim. Banchan, (typically served in strictly odd numbers, on account of good luck) comes in an array of flavors and varieties, leaving room to put your own spin on the classic Banchan side dishes.

The potato is a fairly recent addition to Asian cooking.

Compared to other ingredients, the potato wasn't native to the area, instead introduced in the late 16th century by European traders. Only during the mid 1600s did the potato really start to show up in Asian cuisine. Now there are multiple recipes, variations and names of Banchan potato dishes, Gamja Jorim – more savory – and Goguma Mattang – a take on candied sweet potatoes.

At home, you can create Banchan-inspired dishes that keep in the fridge for up to a week, including sesame-ginger candied sweet potatoes with bok choy. This salad is best served cold from the fridge, on its own, or mixed with a fresh green salad. It’s a vegan alternative to creamy coleslaw, and doesn't contain any gluten.  Compared to traditional starches like pasta salad or cheesy pull-apart bread, this side dish will be an all-around crowd pleaser at your next barbecue or backyard cookout.

Ellen Gibbs

Maybe you don’t have baby bok choy, another sturdy green like swiss chard or kale would substitute fine in this case. If you want to bulk it up even more, blanched snow peas add snap and sweetness alongside the sweet potato. Serve with a sprinkle of scallions, it will make the dish pop and taste as fresh as it did the day you made it – yet the longer the ingredients marinade, the stronger the flavors get.

The must-have ingredient: sesame oil. 

Sesame oil is critical, there is no substitute ingredient. Unlike vegetable, canola, or olive oil, which tend to add little to no flavor to a dish, sesame oil has a very distinct flavor. Without it, the salad would be bland. Think of this dressing as a base, feel free to add toasted sesame seeds or sriracha sauce for that extra kick of spice. Herbs like cilantro, mint or Thai basil would give an air of crisp, making this side stand alone. It’s sure to be the highlight of your next meal.  

Sesame Bok Choy with Ginger Glazed Sweet Potato

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Total Time:40 mins
  • Servings:6
  • Medium


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic grated or minced
  • 2 baby bok choy stalks
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 bunch scallions
Ellen Gibbs
  • Step 1

    Whisk all the ingredients together except for the bok choy, sweet potato and scallions.

    Ellen Gibbs
  • Step 2

    Boil the sweet potato for 30 minutes or until tender. While cooling, blanch the bok choy in the same pot of reserved boiling water for 2 minutes, then submerge in cold water.

    Ellen Gibbs
  • Step 3

    Peel the skin from the sweet potato and dice into large chunks. Quarter the bok choy and toss with sweet potato and dressing. Sprinkle with fresh scallions and set in refrigerator to chill at least 1 hour.

    Ellen Gibbs