When the weather gets hot, there are few foods I crave more than naengmyeon. This dish is a unique, delicious mix of chewy buckwheat noodles, tangy fermented vegetables, beef and hardboiled eggs. But, really, it’s the broth that delights. Beef-based and laced with vinegar and mustard, naengmyeon broth is uncommonly bracing and refreshing. I could drink this broth like water, especially in the summer.
Naengmyeon (Cold Buckwheat Noodle Soup) — 냉면
Makes 6 servings
- 26 oz. dried buckwheat noodles*
- 1 lb. beef
- ½ tsp. salt
- 8 c. water
- ½ c. daikon or Korean radish, sliced into matchsticks or thin rectangles**
- 3 eggs, hardboiled
- ½ cucumber, shredded into matchsticks
- white vinegar to taste
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce***
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 green onion, chopped (or 3 scallion stalks)
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce***
- 2 tsp. sesame seeds
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. vinegar
- dash of salt
- dash of Korean red pepper powder****
- 2 Tbsp. dry mustard dissolved in 1 Tbsp. hot water
*Naengmyeon noodles typically consist of both wheat and buckwheat since wheat is cheaper than buckwheat. To make this recipe gluten free I used a special type of noodle, made of sweet potato and buckwheat, which I bought at Whole Foods. (The brand was King Soba and a single pack — see photo above — cost about $5. You can also buy these noodles on Amazon.com for $13 for three packs.) Another gluten-free option is to purchase 100% buckwheat noodles, which are available at specialty grocery stores and on Amazon.com for about $15.
**Korean radishes are white, large and round, with a shape sort of like an enormous potato (see photo above). Daikon radishes are much longer and sometimes referred to as “white carrots” because of their appearance. You should be able to find these radishes at Asian grocery stores and of course at Korean grocery stores.
***To make this dish gluten free, I used San-J Organic Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (available at Whole Foods or for $6.69 + shipping on Amazon.com.)
****You can find plastic bags of Korean red pepper powder (called gochugaru in Korean) at Asian grocery stores or on Amazon.com for about $13 a pound. The consistency is between a coarse powder and a fine flake, so gochugaru is sometimes called red pepper powder or hot pepper powder and sometimes called red chili flakes. The photos above show gochugaru in a container and the powder in a bowl.
- Place entire piece of meat, 8 c. water and ½ tsp. salt in large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beef is tender.
- Remove beef from stock, wrap tightly in a cloth or paper towels and place on a plate.
- Chill meat and stock separately in the refrigerator several hours. Just before serving, remove congealed fat from stock and add soup seasoning ingredients.
- Slice chilled beef into thin slices and mix with beef seasonings.
- Mix sliced radishes with radish seasoning and set aside for 10 minutes. Press out liquid and sprinkle with an additional dash of red pepper powder.
- Slice hardboiled eggs in half to make six halves.
- Soak dry noodles in cold water for 15 minutes before cooking in boiling water for 2 minutes. [NOTE: If substituting another type of noodle or 100% buckwheat noodles, follow the cooking directions on the package.]
- Rinse noodles thoroughly in cold water and drain. [NOTE: To guarantee noodles are chewy, noodles should be prepared just before serving.]
- Serve noodles in large individual soup bowls topped with meat slices, cucumber shreds, radish and egg halves.
- Let your guests add vinegar and mustard paste to taste.
[Recipe from “Korean Cooking”, an out-of-print cookbook created by the Korean Institute of Minnesota.]