Saturday, March 1, 2008

Korean Spicy Cold Noodle (Bi Bim Gook Soo)

There are a few different versions of Korean spicy noodles and their main distinction is the type of noodles used.  Bibim guksu is the kind where thin white wheat vermicelli (aka somen) is used.  I don’t know the history of somen being used in Korean noodles but white wheat is not traditionally indigenous to Korean soil although buckwheat was very common. Bibim guksu spicy noodle is very popular in Korea mostly at home instead of restaurants.  It’s much easier to make mainly due to the sauce than its other spicy noodle counterpart bibim naeng myun.
This is a great Korean recipe for summer months although I pretty much eat it any time of the year.

1. First you boil one or two eggs. This will be one of the condiments to be added later.

This is what the somen noodle looks like.  It’s thin, white and brittle.

2. Boil the noodles.  I usually take the eggs out put them in cold running water while I use the same boiling water for cooking noodles.

Usually it takes about 3 minutes for the noodles to be ready. Nevertheless, you should try a piece of noodle to see if they are ready.

3. Rinse the noodles using cold running water. Make sure to stir it around so that the entire noodle is cold because usually the bottom is warm.

4. Put the noodles into a salad mixing bowl and get ready for some serious mixing.

One of the most important ingredients is this Korean red pepper paste called “gochujang”. For Korean recipes, this is an indispensable ingredient.  You can easily find this at a Korean supermarket or probably at general Asian supermarkets.  It looks like below.

5. I put the Korean red pepper paste, thinly ground red pepper powder, cilantro, 2 tsp of fresh minced garlic, rice vinegar (1 tbsp), Chinese spicy mustard, and sesame oil (2-3 tsp).

6. Grandma style hand mixing is preferred.

7. Now it’s time for decoration with condiments. The condiments in the below list go nicely with the flavor of the dish.  Of course you don’t have to use them all.  Normally, I just use cucumber and egg. - boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers, sliced picked white radish also used in other Korean spicy cold noodles such as “neng myun” or “jol myun” (It can be purchased at a Korean supermarket), sliced tomatoes (optional), dried seaweeds (optional), cilantro (unorthodox option) and sesame seeds.

I just like to make my dish look nice with side ingredients with a little bit of artistic touch. However, I wouldn’t be so hung up on doing this after the noodle has been already cooked because the noodle will expand and become too soft as time goes by. It is the best you prepare these vegetable condiments beforehand (maybe when boiling the noodles) so this will take quickly.

So that's how my version looks like and usually it looks quite messier. Enjoy!

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