I think of bibimmyeon as a sibling or cousin to naengmyeon, the dish of chewy noodles and mustard-vinegar-beef broth that I made a few months ago. Naengmyeon incorporates several tastes, including salty and sour, but it is not spicy. Bibimmyeon, on the other hand, is spicy; that’s it’s raison d’être. So when you want spicy noodles, cook bibimmyeon and when you want cold, salty/sour noodles in broth, cook naengmyeon.
Bibimmyeon (Spicy Noodles) — 비빔면
- 3 dehydrated mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in warm water*
- 4 oz beef, cut into thin strips, about 1.5 inches long
- vegetable or sunflower oil for frying
- 1 small cucumber
- 2 large eggs
- 10 oz somyeon noodles (thin, dried wheat noodles)**
- 1 hot red chili pepper, cut into thin strips (optional)***
For chili pepper sauce:
- 2 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean hot red pepper paste)****
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce*****
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
For beef marinade:
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce*****
- 1.5 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. finely chopped scallions
- 1 tsp. crushed garlic
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
*You can buy these mushrooms in Asian grocery stores and rehydrate them by soaking them in hot water for 15-20 minutes. If the mushrooms are still not soft after soaking, simmer them in a pot for 10 more minutes. (See photo above.)
**As noted above, somyeon noodles are wheat noodles. To make this recipe gluten free I swapped in dahng myeon, the sweet potato starch noodles I used when I cooked japchae earlier this year. Other gluten-free noodle options include rice noodles or 100% buckwheat noodles, which are available at specialty grocery stores and on Amazon.com for about $15. Somyeon noodles are very thin, so the closest gluten-free noodle substitute in terms of appearance would be (thin) rice noodles.
***The type of pepper that Koreans use in this dish is basically a red chili pepper. The shape is long and thin; see photos above. You can find these peppers at Korean grocery stores.
****You can buy gochujang in plastic, tub-like containers at Asian grocery stores or for $10 on Amazon.com. The tubs are easy to identify, even if you don’t read Korean, because they are always red in color, to match their contents. (See photo above.)
*****To make this recipe gluten free, I used San-J Organic Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (available at Whole Foods or for $6.69 + shipping on Amazon.com.)
- Combine chili pepper sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
- Squeeze water from soaked mushrooms and cut caps into thin slices.
- Combine beef marinade ingredients in a bowl, add beef and mushrooms and marinate for 20-30 minutes.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil to very hot in a frying pan. Stir-fry beef and mushrooms together until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Cut cucumber into thin slices. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 10 minutes to sweat. Squeeze out excess water, then fry in 1 tsp. oil over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Fry egg and slice into thin strips.
- Bring pan of water to a boil, add noodles and cook until soft. Drain and rinse noodles in cold water.
- Place noodles and chili pepper sauce in a large bowl and mix well to coat.
- Add beef, mushrooms and most of the cucumber (reserving a small amount as garnish) and mix well.
- Serve noodles in individual bowls, topped with egg strips, remaining cucumber and strips of hot red chili pepper.