Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bibim NaengMyun (비빔냉면)

Bibim naengmyun is the perfect summer dish because it is really refreshing. It's a bowl of cold, chewy noodles that are mixed in a spicy sweet sauce, served with lots of cold cucumbers and pear slices. It's also the perfect summer dish because there's virtually zero time spent slaving over a hot stove or oven. All you need is boiling water for the noodles - which cook up really quick, 4 or 5 minutes, tops - and a blender.

Ingredients [serves 4]
1 lb naengmyun noodles
2 kirby cucumbers
1 pear - asian pears are preferable but bose pears work too (and they're readily available in most markets)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
3 tablespoons hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 scallions
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup of corn syrup (or you could just use white sugar)
pinch of salt (to taste)
2 hard boiled eggs (optional)

Here are what the naengmyun noodles look like. They are brown and thin - probably somewhere between thin spaghetti and angelhair pasta. It's usually made from potato and sweet potato starch and buckwheat flour and they are really chewy. As a kid, my parents would worry I'd choke on the noodles since my young jaws had a hard time chewing them up. I sincerely doubt you can find these in a regular grocery store so if you want to make naengmyun, you'll have to take a special trip to the Korean market.
Boil the noodles for four to five minutes until they're cooked (which you can test by tasting them). Then run them under cold water until they're no longer hot and then soak them in ice cold water until you're ready to dress them. The hot to cold shock makes them chewier (according to my grandma).

To prepare the spicy sauce, add half of a peeled pear - cubed (should be about 1 cup, save the other half for garnish), garlic, ginger, hot pepper paste, hot pepper flakes, soy sauce, scallions, sesame seeds, and corn syrup (or sugar) to a blender or food processor.
Blend (or process) until it's smooth and uniform. Give it a taste and add salt if necessary but I think the soy sauce usually adds enough sodium for me and my family.
Here's what the sauce should look like when it's ready.
Drain the noodles and get rid of as much water as possible - spin it in a salad spinner if you have to - and then add the sauce and toss.
Place 1 serving of noodles in a bowl and top with the leftover pear (sliced), some kirby cucumber slices, and half a hard boiled egg.
This is summer in a bowl. ENJOY.

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