Noodles are a staple in Korean cuisine. They are served in stews, soups, stir fries, and in cold salad dishes. On a Korean menu, the dishes will say "myeon" or "myun" or "gooksu" if they are noodle dishes.
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Naeng myun (or naengmyoen) is a Korean cold noodle dish made of thin, slightly chewy buckwheat
noodles topped with egg, meat, vegetables, and a savory, vinegary ice-cold broth. Although it is now a summertime food among Koreans, its origins are in the North Korean mountains as a wintertime staple. Buckwheat grows well in high altitudes, and it became an important dish for Koreans living in the harsh mountain climate. But it is refreshing in hot weather, and it's a one-bowl meal that requires very little time at the stove.
Chapchae is one of the most popular noodle dishes in Korea, and also seems to be the one that Westerners like best. The foundation of the dish is the mixture of the noodles, soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. Because mung bean or sweet potato noodles both absorb tons of flavor, you can mix and match the vegetables or meat to your liking. I used broccoli, red peppers, shiitake mushrooms, bulgogi
, and onion in the version pictured here, and that flavor and color combination is one of my favorites. But I have included the more traditional ingredients below.
This Korean soybean noodle dish is refreshingly cold and mild, with a nutty taste that makes it perfect for very hot summer days. It's an easy recipe for even the most novice cook, costs almost nothing to make, and is a healthy and filling vegan Korean dish.
Bibim Gooksu is the noodle version of bibimbap. These spicy cold mixed noodles are wonderful in the summer when you don't want to spend a lot of time in front of the stove and you don't feel like eating hot, heavy dishes. It's easy to make but full of spice, flavor, and texture, so it's still feels like a complete and satisfying meal. I like to make Bibim Gooksu with buckwheat noodles (memil gooksu or soba
) since it's so delicious and healthy, but you can substitute other thin noodles if you don't have any soba at home.
Jajangmyun (Chajangmyun, Jjajang myun) is one of the most popular noodle dishes in Korea. It is the Korean adaptation of a Chinese black bean
noodle dish with the same name, and you can find it in every Chinese restaurant in Korea. It's delicious and satisfying but inexpensive to buy or make, so it's a favorite home-cooked or takeout meal among almost all Koreans.