Monday, April 22, 2013

Bibim Naengmyeon - Cold Buckwheat Noodles

Some people argue that cold pizza is by far better than the warm variety. While I'm not of that (clinically insane) disposition, I will argue that cold is better that warm when it comes to noodles. At least in summer. And while I'm aware it is in fact not summer - yet - I am still allowed to dream, am I not?

In my culinary home country, that is South Korea, the most common cold noodle dish is called Naengmyeon (냉면), which basically means..."cold noodles". This dish can be divided into the "with-broth" variety (Mul Naengmyeon, 물 냉면) and the "mixed-with-wickedly-spicy-sauce" option (Bibim Naengmyeon, 비빔 냉면). Since I am a fan of the wickedly-spicy option as a general rule of thumb this is what I'll be serving up!

As with most asian cuisine you might be seeing some (probably) unfamiliar ingredients. Fear not, all of the "strange" ingredients can be found in most well-stocked asian supermarkets. I'll be sure to post adresses to my favorite places at the end of the post. Oh, also, this is my take on Bibim Naengmyeon; the way I like it. You can easily change the ratios of the ingredients to make it sweeter, less spicy, more or less saucy, etc. I basically never follow recipies to the dot, so you don't need to either!

First off: some cruel honesty: Are you handy with your kitchen knife, feel confident chopping up half a cucmber into pretty, thin strips in less than, say, 5 minutes without chopping off fingers? If yes, then you can start with bringing a fairly large saucepot of water to a boil and placing the buckwheat/arrowroot noodles in the boiling water, giving them a little stir so they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. They only need to boil for about 3 minutes as they are mighty thin (though, your variety could differ, so always read the cooking directions on the package!) so you need to chop quick! Once the noodles are nice and soft but deliciously chewy you want to strain them in a sieve while cooling them down with cold cold water. While the noodles are boiling you can do these following steps:

First you want to Julienne some cucumber (and try hard not to just eat it all from the chopping board). I usually slice oblong slices and then slice them again to make long thin strips. Put them in a medium sized mixing bowl. (By the way, cucumber is my all time favorite vegetable. I'm hoping to harvest my own homegrown mini-cucumbers later this summer! Oh delish!)

Now to make the sauce: These are approximations: From the left: 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon Korean soy sauce (Japanese works too!) and a big (huge if you like it hot!) dollop of Korean chili paste (Gochujang, 고추장). Put into mixing bowl with the cucumber and mix it up real good. Sprinkle some white vinegar on there and something sweet to taste; could be sugar, could be honey, I used my favorite syrup: Lyle's Golden Syrup. I sprinkled some ground black pepper on there too. Mix it, mix it, mix it!

Now, if you are not a cooking knife ninja, this is where you'd boil the water, cook the noodles and strain them in a sieve with cold cold water. Once done and you have the noodles as per the picture below, put them into the bowl with the cucumber-chili-sauce-mix and stir to combine, real good. I used a latex gloved hand. Who said you ought not to play with your food? I say play!

Once well combined, serve in bowl, sprinkle some toased sesame seeds on top and a twig of coriander for prettiness and enjoy!

Bibim Naengmyeon - Cold noodles with spicy sauce (serves two normally hungry persons)

1 tight handgrip* of thin buckwheat/arrowroot noodles
½ organic** cucumber
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil (not the extra virgin sesame oil)
1 tablespoon Korean (or Japanese) soy sauce
1 big dollop (2-3 tablespoons) Korean chili paste (Gochujang)
1 teaspoon sugar or honey or syrup
1 teaspoon white vinegar
5 turns on the pepper grinder
roasted sesame seeds
(a couple of twigs of fresh coriander to make food look pretty enough for Instragram)

1 saucepan
1 fine mesh sieve
1 chopping board
1 kitchen knife (SHARP!)
1 medium sized mixing bowl
1 measuring cup set
1 latex glove or a ladel or a spoon to mix with
2 bowls for serving
2 pairs of chopsticks
(2 forks when you give up on the chopsticks)

Cooking Instructions
(0. For kitchen knife ninjas: Bring water to boil, place noodles in water.)

1. Julienne cucumber, place in medium sized mixing bowl. Combine with sesame oil, soy sauce, chili paste, sugar/honey/syrup, vinegar, pepper and mix it up with your latex gloved hand or your ladel or your spoon. Set aside

(1½. For not-so-much kitchen knife ninjas: Bring water to boil, place noodles in water.)

2. When noodles are soft but plenty chewy: Strain noodles and cool them down by pouring cold water over them while stirring around. Press away excess water.

3. Place noodles in mixing bowl with cucumbers and sauce, mix well.

4. Serve in bowls with sprinkles of roasted sesame seeds (and a coriander twig if you're posting on Insta)

5. Enjoy!

*Handgrip: the amount of noodles that you can grip (tightly) with one hand and have your thumb and index finger touch.
**You guys, whenever you can, buy organic. It's so much nicer on the environment and it really does taste better.


My two favorite asian supermarkets in Stockholm:

1. Oriental Supermarket in the Hötorget subway station has almost everything. Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Korean, Japanese (and more!) ingredients.
2. Korean Food on Luntmakargatan 76 has the slightly more obscure Korean things and the best home made Kimchi in Stockholm.


  1. This looks amazing! I'm going to give it a go. :)

    1. Oh yay! Please do, and let me know how it goes!
      ps. Love your blog!


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