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« Korean Mother Sauces and Stocks by Ji-Young Park | Main | Announcement By Farid Zadi »

November 26, 2005

Naengmyun, Chilled Noodles by Ji Young Park

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www.bookofraiforum.com discuss cuisines and cultures.

Naengmyun is a Northern Korean cold noodle dish from the Pyong-an-do and Hamgyong-do provinces. Traditionally naengmyun was enjoyed during the winter.

Pyong-an specializes in mul naengmyun made from buckwheat noodles and a pheasant and beef broth with radish kimchi juice added. Hamgyong specializes in bibim naengmyun made from starch noodles with Hong Hwe or seasoned flounder. Mul means "water" or "liquid" and bibim means to "mix". As the dishes traveled further away from their origins, Koreans from other regions began adding different ingredients soon naengmyun became a summer time favorite.

My mother learned this dish through an "adopted" relative from North Korea who opened a restaurant in South Korea shortly after the war. It's hard to imagine now, but 30 years ago the restaurant scene in Seoul was a fraction of what it was now. It wasn't really until the Olympics that Seoul began exploding into the dense, vibrant city it is now.

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I took the photos at a Korean restaurant in Los Angeles. Unless portion sizes have increased in the past 4 years in Korea, I am pretty sure that this Korean-American portion is about 1/3 bigger than a Korean portion.

The cup is filled with seasoned yuk su . Season my basic white beef stock with salt and pepper. You can also boil a small piece of ginger, ginseng, dashima, sundried anchovies, leeks, scallions and more garlic in a few cups of yuk su for about an hour and strain the stock. If you're missing the flavor of your favorite restaurant, it's probably msg or a seasoning additive such as beef or clam flavored dashida or hondashi

 

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Yellow mustard and vinegar are favorite table top condiments when eating naengmyun. Add to taste.

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When making naengmyun at home I prefer the frozen products to the dried. Follow the directions on the package, but start checking the noodles before the indicated times. The noodles cook very quickly and should be chewy in texture. Have a large bowl of ice water ready. When the noodles are cook IMMEDIATELY drain them and rinse  under cold water, plunge into the ice water and massage the noodles. Yes, massage. This helps cool the noodles even faster. Drain.

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Different brands of naengmyun. Many have seasoning packets included such as powdered soup base, seasoned koch'ujang or packets of frozen broth.

You can buy your favorite water kimchi and mix it with the packaged broth for a quick and easy mul naengmyun or you can buy prepared hoeng hwe or another spicy banchan mix it with the seasoned koch'ujang for bibim naengmyun. A garnish of 1/2 a hard boiled egg is ubiquitous. If you are concerned about having an authentic "native" experience, there you go This is how millions of Koreans cook at home. A combination of prepared foods and home made items. The prepared foods sold at Korean markets can be very good to excellent. I buy them occasionally when I don't have the time. Sorry mom.

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Seasoning additives. These are pretty common in Korean restaurant and home cooking. I never, ever use them which means my dishes might be missing an "authentic" flavoring component.

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Comments

My absolute favourite summer dish! It's so light and refreshing. I always recommend this to people who want to avoid spicy foods.

Excellent post on my favorite Korean food--the prepackaged noodles are fine, but freshly made is always the best. My uncle-in-law lives just a few minutes from us in Sokcho, Gangwon-province, where he has one of(if not the)oldest makguksu restaurants on the East coast, dating back to the early 1940s (or perhaps earlier). His is one of the few places that makes noodles with 100% buckwheat flour. It is the absolute best food in all of Korea. If you're ever coming to Sokcho, I'll treat you to them, in honor of your fine blog!

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