Homemade Bibim Naengmyeon (Korean Spicy Cold Noodles)
Naengmyeon refers to a Korean-style recipe of spicy cold noodles made with buckwheat flour, served at a cool temperature. These chewy noodles served with naengmyeon sauce make one of the most popular summer dishes in Korea. Follow my step-by-step instructions to learn how to make this authentic bibim naengmyeon Korean noodle dish and sauce at home.
I spent very good time both in Korea and U.S last month. Upon my return from the summer break, I would like to treat you with a very cool summer noodle dish of Korea; “Naengmyeon“, the Korean spicy cold noodles.
What does nangmyeon mean in Korean
Nangmyeon means “cold noodles” in Korean. There are two kinds.
- With spicy sauce that you mix together — Bibim Naengmyeon)
- Or with icy broth — Mul Naengmyeon.
While bibim nangmyeon usually tops with slightly sweet and spicy sauce, mul nangmyeon is like a cold noodle soup served in tangy mustardy meat broth. They both are popular noodles to be eaten during hot summer season in Korea.
Today I am going to share with you the Bibim Naengmyeon recipe.
What types of noodles are used in nangmyeon
Korean nangmyeon noodles are made with buckwheat flour and it’s a common Korean pantry staples for Korean cooking.
Although most people relates buckwheat noodles to soba noodles, but the texture of both noodles are completely different. Korean nangmyeon noodles have more chewy and slightly rubbery texture to the bite than Japanese soba noodles.
Most of nangmyeon noodles will have some wheat flour added, because noodles made with only buckwheat will break so easily (They won’t hold their shape). They contain more of sweet potato starch and wheat flour than the Japanese soba.
Also the color of nangmyeon noodles varies depending on the types of buckwheat as well. The darker the color, the more of outer skin of buckwheat are used.
Homemade Bibim Nangmyeon Sauce
There is nothing that can be disappointing than having a bad naengmyeon with terrible sauce. Just like any Korean noodle recipes, good Korean naengmyeon has to comes with a good bibim sauce.
Don’t be scared by the list of all the ingredients. You can whip up this sauce quite fast, but it needs to be prepared ahead of time to chill, from 20 minutes up to 1-2 days ahead, so that the flavor will incorporate and mature.
Get ready for the spicy paradise!!!
This is how Koreans fight the heat of scorching summer — although some Koreans enjoy eating boiling hot Korean soups and stews to beat the heat.
Ingredients for Korean bibim nangmyeon sauce
These devoted crews are ready to work.
- Savory ingredients — onion, ginger, garlic
- Sweetener — Pineapple (either fresh or canned), apple, honey, brown sugar
- Flavoring ingredients — soy sauce, Korean chili flakes, dijon mustard (or Korean mustard), sesame oil
- First, mix 1/2 cup water with 1/4 cup soy sauce and bring to quick boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Put diced apple, onion, garlic, and pineapple in a blender and process until velvety smooth. You can add a little bit of water or pineapple juice (if using canned) to help blending. I used fresh pineapple but you can use canned. You only need about 3 slices.
- Return to your soy sauce in a pot, add the fruit mixture, chili flakes, sugar and other sauce ingredients. Mix well.
- Add more water or pineapple juice if you prefer thinner consistency. Don’t forget to sprinkle some of my love.., the toasted sesame seeds.
Mature the sauce in advance
Now transfer the sauce in a container and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to mature. 1-2 days will be more desirable. This sauce can last in the fridge for couple of month. You can use it to any type of noodles, or even use in spicy Korean vegetable salads. I made Korean cucumber salad with this sauce and it tasted awesome.
Preparation for noodle toppings
- Peel off the radish, and cut off about 2″ long and slice as thin as your human capability allows you. Thinner than 1/8″ if you can.
- Add 1 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp vinegar to the radish slices and toss well. Set aside for 20-30 minutes to wilt. We are making a quick radish pickle.
- Rinse with water briefly, and squeeze out gently to remove the water. Set aside.
- Cut a cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape off the seeds in the center with a spoon.
- Slice diagonally about 1/8″ thin. Set aside.
How to cook Korean nangmyeon noodles
- Boil water and add the Naengmyeon noodles.
- Cook for 4 minutes or follow the package direction for the cooking time. You will see the water becomes very cloudy. You want to stir the noodles often so that they don’t stick together.
- Rinse your noodles in the cold water. Ice water is even better. Rinse until you don’t see any more starch water coming out from the noodles.
- Place noodles in a large bowl and top with sauce, about 2-3 tablespoonful. Top with the radish, cucumber, and boiled egg sliced in half.
How to serve bibim nangmyeon
To serve, just mix the noodles with the sauce.
But in order to mix well, this is what some people do in Korea. (Although a true nangmyeon mania won’t like this method)
- Cut noodles 2-3 times with a pair of scissor. That way it is easy to mix and won’t choke you with a long strand of noodle as you eat.
- Some people like to add couple of ice cubes in a bowl to keep the noodles cold. But it can dilute the sauce as you eat.
Beat the summer heat with the other type of heat. It’s so spicy hot, that you will forget how hot it is outside. You gotta love the Korean way of keeping up with the summer.
More noodle recipes
Summer is a great season for noodles. Here are a few of my favorite noodles recipes that I enjoy during the hot season.
- Easy Japchae Recipe (Korean Glass Noodles)
- Korean Noodles with Beef Sauce
- Hong Kong Style Cantonese Pan-Fried Noodles
- One Pot Korean Noodles and Vegetables
- Light Thai Glass Noodle Salad (Yum Woon Sen)
Homemade Bibim Naengmyeon (Korean Spicy Cold Noodles)
- 1 package Korean nangmyeon noodles
- 1 Asian cucumber, cut in half, seeded and thinly sliced diagonally
- 4 hard boiled eggs, cut in half
For quick pickled radish
- 1/2 Korean radish or daikon radish, cut into 1/2-inch wide, 2-inch long thin strips
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp vinegar
For bibim sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 apple, peeled and diced
- 1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 3 slices pineapple, same volume as apple or 3 rings of canned pineapple
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tbsp water or pineapple juice
- 1 cup Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
- 1 tsp Korean mustard or Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- To make the sauce, combine 1/2 cup water and soy sauce in a pan and bring to boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a blender combine apple, onion, pineapple and garlic, add the 3 tablespoon water or pineapple juice (if using canned pineapple) puree until smooth.
- Return to the soy sauce in a pan, add the fruit puree and the rest of the sauce ingredients. Mix well. Add a little more water if you prefer your sauce thinner. Transfer to an airtight container and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes up to 1 day before using.
- For the quick pickled radish, toss the radish strips with salt, sugar and vinegar and set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse and squeeze out extra moisture.
- To cook noodles, boil water in a pot and add noodles and cook according to package directions. Stir often so they don’t stick together. Drain and rinse the noodles with very cold water.
- To serve, place desired amount of noodles in a large bowl and top with 2-3 tablespoonful of bibim sauce. Place cucumber and pickled radish slices on top, and egg.
- To help with serving, cut noodles with a pair of scissor 2-3 times and mix well with sauce and toppings. Enjoy!