Naengmyeon (Korean Cold Noodle Soup)

물냉면

REFRESHINGLY CLEANSING ICE COLD NOODLES

This totally addictive dish is from North Korea, where my dad is from, so it’s dear to his heart. My mum used to make it for him in the summertime, and I can still remember the slurping noises at the dinner table when it was served.

Naengmyun noodles (similar to Japanese soba) are the best, as they contain buckwheat and sweet potato, which gives them a great chewy texture. They’re also thinner than regular buckwheat noodles, which make them perfect for slurping. The noodles are typically served within an ice cold, savoury, slightly sweet-tangy broth made from beef stock and the brine from fermented radish kimchi (dongchimi).

Ice cold Korean noodles (Mul-naengmyeon)

USER FRIENDLY VERSION

I make a simple version of this classic naengmyeon, using vinegar to mock the sour taste of the dongchimimul, which can be quite time consuming to make. The vinegar does the trick, and the broth tastes just as refreshing. A cool and crisp pear, cucumber, and red onion salad tossed in a strong Korean mustard dressing complements the broth, bringing a bit of welcome texture and kick. I toss in ice cubes to keep everything cold, and serve it alongside a frosty beer.

Read my article on the origins and history of Korean cold noodles.

INGREDIENTS

Find out more about each ingredient and where to buy it by clicking on the ingredient links below!

Ingredients

Serves 2

Noodles

  • 475ml (16 fl oz) beef stock
  • ¼ tsp caster sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 200g (7 oz) Korean sweet potato noodles (naengmyun)

Salad

  • 180g (6 oz) julienned unpeeled Asian pear or other firm but ripe pear
  • 2 Tbsp julienned unpeeled cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp julienned red onion, soaked in iced water for 10 minutes and then drained
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp prepared Korean mustard (gyeoja) or English mustard
  • Pinch of sea salt

To Serve

  • 55g (2 oz) sliced cooked roast beef, cut into 4cm (1 ½ in) wide pieces
  • 2 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and halved or quartered lengthways
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Roasted sesame seeds
  • Roasted seaweed (kim), julienned

Method

FOR THE NOODLES

Prepare an iced water bath.

In a medium saucepan, heat the stock with the sugar over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and the salt, adding more vinegar to taste. Remove from the heat, pour into a heatproof container and chill over the iced water bath.

While the soup is chilling, make the noodles according to the pack instructions. Rinse well with cold water, massaging to remove excess starch. Drain and set aside.

FOR THE SALAD

In a small bowl, toss together all the salad ingredients.

Divide the noodles between two bowls. (Add some crushed ice to the base of the bowls to keep the noodles well chilled, if you like). Pour the cold broth over the noodles.

Top the noodles with the salad. Divide the roast beef and eggs between the bowls. Grind pepper over each egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds and seaweed.

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