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Asian-Inspired Side Dishes That Will Take You All Over The Continent

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

The flavors of Asian cuisine are far-reaching, and we’ve got plenty of side dishes that show all the best of the continent and go perfectly with a bánh mì, Korean BBQ, or your next Indian curry. Whether you’re craving something spicy, pungent, umami, or all three, we think you’ll really love these easy Asian-inspired side dishes, like Chinese smashed cucumbers, saffron rice, kimchi, and more.

Speaking of kimchi (we’re always talking about it, TBH, such is our love for this staple): There is no Korean feast without plenty of kimchi on the table. Delightfully funky, kimchi is often seen as solely just pickled cabbage, but it’s actually a broad name for a type of Korean banchan—or side dish—that is served alongside most meals in Korea. We love serving kimchi alongside bibimbap, stirred it into kimchi fried rice, or folded it into creamy kimchi pasta. Some other favorite banchan include soy-marinated eggs, Tteokbokki, and garlic-sesame sautéed spinach (sautéed sigeumchi namul).

And if you’re a spice fiend like we are, so many of our favorite Asian-inspired sides also happen to highlight our favorite regional spicy condiments (like Thai sriracha and prik nam pla, Yemeni zhoug, Indian mango chutney, Korean gochujang, and Chinese chili oil). With these iconic condiments, it couldn’t be easier to add complex layers of heat. If you need some beginner-friendly recipes, try our our recipes for papaya salad, Sichuan-style “fish-fragrant” eggplant, chili-smashed potatoes, and gobi Manchurian.

Hungry for more? Try all our favorite classic Asian dinner recipes and Asian-inspired desserts next!

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Kimchi

Kimchi is a broad name for a type of Korean banchan—or side dish—that is served alongside most meals in Korea. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to refer to kimchi as a method of fermenting and preserving vegetables. Serve it alongside bibimbap, stir it into fried rice, or fold it into creamy pasta.

Get the Kimchi recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Saffron Rice

Saffron rice is quite possibly the most beautiful side dish to grace any dinner table. Colored with the reddish threads from saffron flower stigmas and paired with bright red pomegranate seeds, this rice has a subtle yet fragrant aroma that’ll enhance the flavor of the meat you serve alongside it.

Get the Saffron Rice recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Papaya Salad

When picking your papaya for this salad, just make sure you’re choosing a green, very unripe fruit. And no worries if you’ve got shreds of different thicknesses! That rustic and organic variation will contribute to fun textures in every bite, and we’ll pound them all until tender anyway.

Get the Papaya Salad recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Scallion Pancakes

Scallion pancakes might be one of our favorite sides ever. Crispy, flaky, and with the *slightest* bit of chew, it’s easy to polish off a whole plate of them in minutes. If you’ve got more pancakes than you can handle, we’ve got good news—these freeze super well! When you’re ready to cook them, let them thaw at room temperature for 10 minutes before crisping in a lightly oiled pan.

Get the Scallion Pancakes recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Miso Soup

One of the most comforting sides ever, miso soup is so simple to make. Dashi is what gives miso soup its distinct flavor. It’s a simple broth made by boiling water with kombu (dried seaweed) and bonito flakes (dried fish flakes).
Get the Miso Soup recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Easy Coconut Rice

Coconut rice is a Thai-style rice that uses a slightly different method than you would normally use to cook rice. For coconut rice, you bring the milk, water, and rice all to a boil together. Replacing half of the water with coconut milk makes the rice slightly sticky and much more flavorful.

Get the Easy Coconut Rice recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Soy-Marinated Eggs

These eggs are a version of a classic Korean banchan (side dish) called gyeran jang jorim, or eggs simmered in soy sauce. Rather than simmering hard-boiled eggs in soy sauce, the eggs are first soft-boiled to jammy perfection, then marinated off the heat in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.

Get the Soy-Marinated Eggs recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Chili Oil Smashed Potatoes

This recipe is a spicy take on our favorite crispy potato method: smashed potatoes. It uses chili oil—make your own or use store-bought. Whichever you choose, try and get the potatoes coated in a good mix of both the oil and the crispy bits. These potatoes need both to be perfect.

Get the Chili Oil Smashed Potatoes recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Aloo Gobi

Aloo gobi is a classic vegetarian Indian dish translating to potatoes (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi). It’s a one-pot, super-simple, comforting dish that’s ready quickly—serve it as a side or over rice as a main.

Get the Aloo Gobi recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Air Fryer Egg Rolls

Egg rolls are a Chinese American staple. The origins of the dish are not definitive, but their ubiquitousness in American cuisine and culture has been clear for decades (hence there being a different spin on egg rolls at every fast casual restaurant). We have a ton of different versions, but since we have become obsessed with using our air fryer, we thought we had to develop a new recipe that is quick to make and even easier to clean up from.

Get the Air Fryer Egg Rolls recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Inspired by the popular Chinese takeout dish kung pao chicken, these saucy Brussels sprouts are dangerously delicious. If you want to up the spice level, feel free to add red chiles with the garlic.

Get the Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Sichuan-Style “Fish-Fragrant” Eggplant

Despite the name, there is no trace of fish in this delicious dish. Originating from the Sichuan province in China, 魚香 (yu xiang) describes a flavor profile that was originally used in preparing fish dishes from the region. Now these pickled chiles, fermented bean paste, green onions, garlic, ginger, and punchy spice blend are used to season vegetables, like this eggplant, too.

Get the Sichuan-Style “Fish-Fragrant” Eggplant recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Homemade Samosas

We almost never order Indian food without getting some samosas along with it, and good news: Homemade samosas don’t need to be intimidating. The spiced potato filling is quick and easy, and the dough comes together quickly using melted ghee. The crust is sturdy, but still fries up extra-crisp and shatter-y. You may need to hunt down some spices and seeds, but it’s well worth it.

Get the Homemade Samosas recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Gamja Jorim: Korean Potatoes

Creamy, tender potato chunks are coated in a slightly sticky, sweet-salty sauce that results from the reduction of honey and soy sauce. Eat it with rice as your low-maintenance weeknight dinner, or serve it alongside your main course.

Get the Gamja Jorim: Korean Potatoes recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Chili Oil Smashed Cucumbers

Bonus for this recipe: You get to smash out a little bit of pent-up anger in the process! The resulting uneven, craggy texture of split cucumbers is perfect for grabbing and holding on to that delicious, seasoned oil.

Get the Chili Oil Smashed Cucumbers recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Homemade Pita Bread

Pita bread (also known as Arabic bread and Syrian bread) is a yeast-leavened flatbread common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. It can be made with or without an interior pocket (but we love the pocket for stuffing falafel and grilled veggies into!).

Get the Homemade Pita Bread recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Garlic-Sesame Sautéed Spinach (Sautéed Sigeumchi Namul)

This easy sautéed spinach recipe is our take on the classic Korean banchan (aka side dish) sigeumchi namul, which is typically made using blanched spinach. The rich flavor of toasted sesame oil pairs beautifully with the verdant spinach, and fresh scallions, peppery raw garlic, and rice vinegar bring a pleasant brightness that keeps you coming back for bite after bite.

Get the Garlic-Sesame Sautéed Spinach (Sautéed Sigeumchi Namul) recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Tteokbokki

Pungent. Spicy. Savory. Sweet. Tteokbokki is saucy, delicious comfort food in a bowl. Captivating to the eye and pleasantly explosive to the taste, it will make you break into a happy sweat. The tender chewiness of Korean rice cakes is enticingly satisfying, the chile’s heat is disorienting and addictive: You fall in love faster than your brain can process. Add in some crunchy green onions and savory fishcakes, and you’ve got yourself quite a meal.

Get the Tteokbokki recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Perfect Bok Choy

Quick-cooking bok choy is one of our favorite veggie sides. Here we pair it with ginger and sesame oil for a light but flavorful plate of greens. Serve it alongside fish, meat, or your favorite rice dish.

Get the Perfect Bok Choy recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Steamed Edamame

The secret to this ultra-umami side dish? A mix of, wait for it, chicken-flavored salt. Fun fact: Australians have a bit of an obsession with it. It was created in the 1970s by a rotisserie chicken shop owner named Peter Brinkworth as a seasoning for his French fries and roast chickens. Chicken salt eventually became so popular, he began selling jars of the stuff. Now it has become the default seasoning for fries throughout the country, and we think that it’s a perfect way to amp up this classic snack.

Get the Steamed Edamame recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Best-Ever Tabouli Salad

This Lebanese (or Syrian, depending who you ask 😉) salad is sure to improve whatever it’s paired with. Bright, fresh herbs get friendly with sweet tomatoes, and a sharp lemon dressing to create the salad equivalent of a breath of fresh air.

Get the Best-Ever Tabouli Salad recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Miso Roasted Carrots

These sweet-savory carrots are topped with the most delicious mix of crunchy nuts and spices. We like pistachios and black and white sesame seeds, but feel free to swap in your favorites.

Get the Miso Roasted Carrots recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Shishito Peppers

Blistered shishito peppers make the perfect side. Light and easy, they aren’t very spicy, which means you can mindlessly eat them without burning your face off. They take almost no time to make, but they are still good enough to make for dinner guests. Cook them in a cast-iron skillet to really get the deep blisters you’re looking for.

Get the Shishito Peppers recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Spread via the Ottoman Empire, some version of these grape leaves appear throughout much of the Mediterranean and Muslim world, such as Greece (dolmades), Armenia (tolma), Iran (dolmeh), and Azerbijan (dolmasi). Traditionally stuffed with a meat and rice mixture, dolmas can also be made vegetarian (known as yalancı dolma, or “fake dolma”). Here we stick to rice with lots of herbs and spices, plus some currants for flavor and pine nuts for texture.

Get the Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves) recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Bateka Nu Shaak

Bateka nu shaak is a quick, comforting, home-style meal made with a handful of spices, tomatoes, and potatoes. Shaak is a Gujarati term that refers to bhajis or as the Western world would call it, “curry”. It’s usually served with roti/rotli, an unleavened flatbread similar to paratha but much thinner, and/or rice. If you’re new to Indian cooking, this is a great starting-off dish to make!

Get the Bateka Nu Shaak recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Gobi Manchurian

Gobi Manchurian belongs to a group of dishes that are a hybrid of Chinese and Indian cuisine, originating in Chinese restaurants that popped up in India that then tailored Chinese cuisine to a more Indian clientele. Often characterized by a deep-fried protein like chicken, fish, or mutton being tossed and lightly cooked in a saucy broth, our cauliflower-based version of the Manchurian dish is fantastically flavorful and delicious when paired with cooked rice.

Get the Gobi Manchurian recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Okonomiyaki: Japanese Cabbage Pancake

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese cabbage pancake blanketed with toppings. The batter is so simple–eggs, flour, baking powder, and good old S&P. A generous amount of sliced cabbage is folded into the batter, and we include plenty of add-ons for both flavor and texture: pork belly, ground pork, bacon, shrimp, squid, octopus, or cheese. Either fold them into the batter or layer them on top right after spreading the batter into the hot pan.

Get the Okonomiyaki: Japanese Cabbage Pancake recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Fattoush

Fattoush is a very fresh and bright salad usually served alongside a protein to help cut the fat. Pro tip: Let the juices that drip to the bottom of the salad serve as extra dressing for whatever you’re eating next to it.

Get the Fattoush recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Lemony Herb Couscous

While often mistaken for a grain, Israeli couscous is actually pasta! It’s a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine that pairs well with everything from lamb to vegetables.

Get the Lemony Herb Couscous recipe.

food, asian-inspired side dishes that will take you all over the continent

Grilled Artichokes

There’s no denying the artichoke’s allure: They’re the roses of the vegetable kingdom. We’re pairing the smoky flavors of the grill here with a cool, green pistachio-yogurt cream and adding a little bit of spice and crunch with fried garlic chips and a pistachio-sesame topping.

Get the Grilled Artichoke recipe.

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