Naengmyeon refers to Korean style spicy cold noodles made with buckwheat flour, served at a cool temperature. These chewy noodles make one of the most popular summer dishes in Korea. Follow my step-by-step instructions to learn how to make this authentic naengmyeon noodle dish.
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 style spicy cold noodles.
There are two kinds.
- With spicy sauce that you mix together (Bibim Naengmyeon)
- Or with icy broth (Mool Naengmyeon).
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.
Korean Nangmyeon Noodles
This is Korean Naengmyeon (somewhat similar to soba). These noodles are made with buckwheat flour. However, they are not solely made with 100% buckwheat though. They will have some wheat flour added, because noodles made with only buckwheat will break so easily (They won’t hold their shape). Korean buckwheat noodles contains more of sweet potato starch and wheat flour than Japanese soba, which creates chewier texture to the bite.
Although buckwheat is gluten free, if you are looking for gluten free buckwheat noodles, read the ingredients on the package just to make sure. Not every buckwheat noodle is created equal.
The color varies depends on types of buckwheat as well. The darker the color, the more of outer skin of buckwheat are used.
Homemade Nangmyeon Sauce
There is nothing that can be disappointing than having a bad Naengmyeon with terrible sauce. Good Korean Naengmyeon has to comes with a good sauce. I will share with you a wonderful recipe.
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, 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.
Here’s how you make the sauce
These devoted crews are ready to work. Pineapple (either fresh or canned), vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, brown sugar, Korean chili flakes, Dijon mustard (or Korean mustard), onion, powdered ginger, garlic, and apple.
- 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.
Now transfer the sauce in a container and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours 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 cucumber salad with this sauce and it tasted awesome.
Quick Pickled Radish and Cucumber
- 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 buckwheat 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 Nangmyeon
To eat, just mix well. But in order to mix well, this is what we do in Korea.
- 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.
Naengmyeon (Korean style spicy cold noodles)
- 1 package Korean soba noodles Nangmyeon
- 1 Asian cucumber cut in half, seeded and thinly sliced diagonally
- 1/2 Korean radish or daikon radish cut into 1/2″wide 2″ long thin strips
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 4 boiled eggs cut in half
For the 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 a airtight container and chill in the fridge for 1 day before using.
- For the quick pickled radsih, 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 sauce, place cucumber and radish slices on top, and top with boiled egg half.
- Cut noodles with a pair of scissor 2-3 times and mix well with sauce and toppings. Enjoy.