The Best Korean Short Ribs Side Dishes

What are the best sides for Korean short ribs? Korean side dishes, or banchan, pair well with BBQ short ribs. Choose dishes with intense flavors, garlic, sesame, and soy, to echo the ribs’ marinade, such as stir-fried glass noodles. Brightly flavored pickled vegetables add freshness to the spicy meal. Sautéed spinach, crunchy bean sprouts, tangy cucumber salad, and fresh green salad add color, crunch, and a vitamin punch to the meal.

If you’re making Korean-style short ribs, it’s fun to pair them with traditional Korean sides and enjoy a complete taste experience. Let’s look at some recipes for banchan.

Stir-Fried Glass Noodles

Although you’ll probably have a bowl of perfectly cooked short-grain white rice on the table, serve these tangy, veggie-rich noodles as an alternative, mouth-cooling starch.

Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil and one tablespoon of sesame oil in a large skillet or wok.

Fry one thinly sliced onion and two crushed garlic cloves for one minute.

Add ½ pound of baby spinach, two sliced carrots, ½ cup of chopped napa cabbage, and five shiitake mushrooms. Fry for three to four minutes – the vegetables will still be crunchy.

Turn down the heat and add eight ounces of cooked glass noodles, a tablespoon of sesame oil, a teaspoon of sugar, and three tablespoons of soy sauce.

Cook gently for two minutes until the ingredients are combined. Season and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Pickled Radishes

Pickles offer a refreshing contrast to the richness of short rib. Use red radishes or, for authenticity, Korean daikon for this quick pickle.

Slice the radishes into ⅛-inch strips or rounds.

Place the radishes in a bowl with a tablespoon of sugar, 1½ teaspoons of rice vinegar, one teaspoon of red chili flakes, ¼ teaspoon of crushed garlic, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix gently until combined.

Cover and refrigerate the pickles for an hour or so before eating. Drain off excess liquid and serve.

Pickled Onions

Another zesty pickle that pairs well with Korean short rib is pickled onions. Add sliced chili for an extra bite.

Chop 16 ounces of onion and pack them in a sterilized mason jar. Add the sliced chili between the onions if included.

In a small saucepan, boil together a cup of water, a cup of soy sauce, a cup of rice wine vinegar, and a cup of sugar over medium heat. Cook for two to three minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the mixture over the onions and seal. Allow the onions to cool, and then refrigerate. The pickles will be ready for eating in two days and will keep in the fridge for a month.

Sautéed Spinach

Sesame oil is a typical Asian ingredient that adds a nutty, earthy undertone to the spinach, marrying well with the BBQ ribs.

Steam a pound of spinach with a pinch of salt – softening spinach only takes 10 seconds. Drain the spinach, then squeeze as much liquid out as you can.

Dress the spinach with two tablespoons of sesame oil, one tablespoon of soy sauce, one teaspoon of rice vinegar, one teaspoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon of crushed garlic, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Stir to combine the spinach and dressing and refrigerate for an hour or two.

Serve at room temperature, garnished with white sesame seeds.

Crunchy Bean Sprouts

Sesame-flavored bean sprouts make a tasty, crisp side dish to add texture to the meal.

Trim the stringy roots from four ounces of fresh soybean sprouts.

Place the soybean sprouts in a small saucepan with ¼ cup of water, a chopped scallion, a teaspoon of crushed garlic, two teaspoons of sesame oil, and two teaspoons of roasted sesame seeds.

Simmer the sprout mixture over low heat for about three minutes. Stir periodically to prevent the mixture from sticking, and stop cooking as soon as the sprouts wilt.

Serve at room temperature.

Tangy Cucumber Salad

The crunch and freshness of cucumber combine with typical Korean spices to pair with sticky ribs.

Thinly slice a cucumber, sprinkle with a teaspoon of coarse salt, and mix. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Slice ¼ onion.

Make a dressing with one teaspoon of red chili flakes, one teaspoon of rice vinegar, one teaspoon of sugar, one teaspoon of crushed garlic, and a teaspoon of sesame seeds.

Drain, rinse and dry the cucumber. Place in a sealed mason jar with the onion and seasoning sauce, mixing well. Refrigerate for half an hour before serving.

Spicy Scallion Salad

Scallions or spring onions have a sweetness and bite that contrast well with grilled meat. This quick salad is bright and tasty.

Thinly slice eight scallions into long strips, cutting both the white and green parts. Place the scallions in a bowl of iced water. Soaking the scallions helps them to curl up. Refrigerate for at least five minutes.

Drain the scallions and place them in a salad bowl.

Make a simple dressing with a tablespoon of sesame oil, two teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.

Mixed Green Salad

A green salad is always beautiful as part of a lunch or dinner table, adding color and crunch to a meaty meal. This salad has a traditional Korean dressing that uses umami-forward fish sauce.

Whisk together two teaspoons of soy sauce, two teaspoons of sugar, two teaspoons of rice vinegar, and one teaspoon of fish sauce. Set aside.

Make a salad with four ounces of mixed lettuce, two ounces of sliced apple, two ounces of thinly sliced cucumber, and a little sliced red onion.

Dress the salad and toss to coat the lettuce. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Best Beverage Pairings For Korean Short Ribs

Serving BBQ short ribs with a table of sides creates a smoky, salty, spicy, intensely flavored meal that can make choosing wine tricky. However, you can still enjoy red and white wine with Korean food.

If you want to go for red wine, choose something light-bodied, bright, and simple, like a Sangiovese, Shiraz, Chianti, or Zinfandel. Avoid any fruity, complex wines, especially reds with heavy tannins.

White wines go well with spicy foods, so pick a light, dry Riesling or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc that will cut through the fattiness of the ribs.

Sweet white wines, like a Gewurtztraminer, don’t work well with spicy food.

Alternatively, go for Korean soju, a vodka-like beverage or saki that will clean the palate of robust flavors.

Koreans also typically combine beer (a lager like Cass) and soju, creating somaek.

Finish the meal with bokbunja ju, a sweet, blackberry wine perfect with or for dessert.

Best Sauces For Korean Short Ribs

Korean-style BBQ short ribs are spicy and flavorsome from their gorgeous marinade, so they don’t need much topping or sauce apart from kimchi, the fermented cabbage staple.

It’s possible to make kimchi at home, but we recommend buying a bottle.

Typical toppings for Korean short ribs are:

  • Thinly sliced scallions or green onions
  • Diced red chili
  • Korean chili threads
  • Toasted sesame seeds

If you want to serve an additional sauce, try this deliciously creamy dipping sauce:

In a blender, combine ¼ cup of soybean paste, two tablespoons of chili paste, two tablespoons of sesame oil, ½ tablespoon of honey, two teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds, and ½ teaspoon of crushed garlic.

Add a tablespoon of diced onion, a tablespoon of chopped apple, and two tablespoons of mixed nuts and seeds.

Blend the dipping sauce for a minute or so until smooth.