Cold noodles are a great option for those lazy summer days. There are more choices other than the popular Pyongyang naengmyeon. Let me share a quick list of these cold noodles so you, too, can try these before the summer ends.
How do you get through hot summers? We’ve listed a few suggestions to beat the summer heat with less AC Included in the list are cold noodle and here’s a more detailed one on that.
Korea’s food choices for the extreme seasons sometimes leaves me wondering why. When it’s cold in the winter, Koreans would have no hesitation to flock to the ice cream store to eat ice cream. When it’s summer, the order of the day is to eat the hot chicken soup, samgyetang. Fight fire with fire is what they say.
And if anyone had told me about having an icy noodle soup on a cold winter day before coming here, I wouldn’t have been hot on that idea. I first tasted it just a couple of hours fresh off the plane some fifteen years ago. I was a bit hesitant at first since I was already pretty full with the rice and meat that we’ve had for dinner. But of course, I tried it and it left me with good memories of my first cold Korean noodles.
The keywords to remember here for noodles are “guksu” and “myeon.” Since this is Asia, there are a lot of kinds but we will focus on the cold ones this time. These are best eaten in the summer but Koreans do serve some of them even in the winter.
These cold noodle dishes usually use two basic kinds of noodles: the buckwheat noodles and naengmyeon noodles. Naengmyeon noodles are usually brown and made from buckwheat, and starch from potato, sweet potato or even arrowroot. It is usually sold in the cold section of a Korean supermarket if you are interested to try to make it at home.
The buckwheat noodle, on the other hand, is in the dry noodles area. Shelf time is longer and storage is easier. If the West has pasta noodles, this might be the Korean one. Most cold noodles use any of these two as base. They just vary in toppings and whether it will have a broth or none. And yes, the sauce will most like be gochujang-based for the spicy ones with a few variations.
As I write this post, it was a bit of a puzzle for me to figure out how to present these common cold noodles in a more logical way and easy to understand. Let’s start with the naengmyeon, the more popular noodles for the summer.
1. Mul Naengmyeon (물냉면)
Mul Naengmyeon is literally “water cold noodles.” The popular ones are Pyeongyang Naengmyeon with either beef or radish broth and Hwe Naengmyeon that uses slices of raw marinated fish or even seafood as toppings. The kind of Naengmyeon noodles used for both are also slightly different. The latter has less buckwheat and more starch which makes it more chewy.
The noodles and the ready-to-eat broth are easily available at most Korean stores especially during summer. You just have to add other fresh produce like the ubiquitous cucumbers.
2. Bibim Naengmyeon (비빔냉면)
This is almost similar to the “mul naengmyeon” except for the optional broth that you may or may choose to add. It’s a more simple dish using the naengmyeon noodles if you want to try making it by yourself.
3. Mak Guksu (막국수)
It’s not yet as popular outside Korea as the Pyeongyang cold noodle. It’s maybe common in Chuncheon, Gangwondo but do a quick search in Kakao Map and more than a hundred of Mak Guksu restaurants will show up just in Cheonan alone. The broth is usually chicken-based but can be mixed with beef and dongchimi (radish-based stock.) The noodles are topped with more variety of vegetables compared to the ubiquitous summer vegetable, cucumber.