Naengmyeon: Top Favorite Summer Food in Korea
Korean summers are scorching hot and make way for the top favorite food of the season – Korean cold noodles, the most popular is Naengmyeon. The noodle dish consists of long and thin handmade noodles made from the flour and starch of various ingredients, including buckwheat, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
There are two kinds of naengmyeon. There’s the Bibim Naengmyeon and the other is Mool or Mul Naengmyeon; both are popular noodles during summer in Korea. The bibim (also known as Hamheung) is the spicy noodle with red hot sauce and the noodles are mostly of potato or sweet potato starch, hence thinner and chewier. The mul (also called Pyeongyang) is noodle, primarily of buckwheat, in icy cold broth typically made with beef broth and/or dongchim, which is radish water kimchi broth.
Both types of noodles are of North Korean origin, where Hamheung and Pyeongyang are both cities in the north. The noodles were brought south by the people who were fleeing the war in the north. After the war, the noodles became popular throughout the country.
The Korean naengmyeon is similar to soba. If the noodles are made with buckwheat flour, they are not 100% buckwheat. Some wheat flour is added to avoid breakage of the noodles. Japanese soba, however, contains less sweet potato starch and wheat flour than Korean buckwheat, which creates the chewier texture. Buckwheat is gluten-free though checking the label in commercially available buckwheat can ascertain if it is so.
The naengmyeon is served in a large stainless-steel bowl. With broth, sliced cucumbers, slices of Korean pear, thin, wide strips of lightly pickled radish, and a boiled egg or slices of cold boiled beef or both are the ingredients. Spicy mustard sauce and vinegar are often added. While the long noodles are traditionally eaten uncut, the restaurant servers can cut the noodles with scissors if so requested.
Beating the Heat with Cold Noodles
For all things Korean on a hot day, enjoy Seoul Hot Pot’s naengmyeon – tasty, chewy cold noodles, served spicy or not. Find traditional Korean offerings in our sleek and trendy spot here in Bellevue.