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Cool Off: Chilled Korean Noodle Dishes for Summer

Cool Off: Chilled Korean Noodle Dishes for Summer

Cool Off: Chilled Korean Noodle Dishes for Summer

When the sweltering summer heat blankets Boston, the only thing on my mind is finding ways to beat the scorching temperatures. And as a self-proclaimed Korean food aficionado, I’ve got just the solution – chilled Korean noodle dishes!

These icy cold noodles are the ultimate summer refresher, delivering a symphony of flavors that will transport you straight to the bustling streets of Seoul. Trust me, I know a thing or two about staying cool when the mercury rises. Growing up in the Korean countryside, I spent my summers chasing the ice cream truck and slurping down bowl after bowl of naengmyeon, the beloved cold noodle dish that’s a national obsession.

Naengmyeon [1] is the stuff of legend – chewy, slippery noodles swimming in a tangy, savory broth that’s chilled to the bone. The base is usually a combination of beef stock and the brine from dongchimi, a type of Korean radish water kimchi. Then you’ve got all the toppings – julienned cucumbers, thinly sliced Korean pears, hard-boiled eggs, and tender slices of beef brisket. It’s a veritable flavor explosion in every bite.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But Maangchi, making naengmyeon from scratch sounds like a daunting task!” Fear not, my friends. While the traditional method does involve a bit of advance planning to make the dongchimi broth, I’ve perfected a user-friendly version that’s just as satisfying [2]. All you need is some simple ingredients and a willingness to get a little creative in the kitchen.

Let’s start with the noodles. The key to naengmyeon is finding the right texture – you want something with a delightful chew, not the soggy, lifeless noodles you might find at a subpar Korean spot. My go-to is the chik-naengmyeon, or arrowroot noodles, which have a wonderfully bouncy bite [3]. You can find these at any well-stocked Asian grocery store or online.

Next up is the broth. Now, I know the traditional method involves simmering beef stock and dongchimi brine for hours on end. But ain’t nobody got time for that in the summertime! Instead, I’ve discovered a nifty shortcut using concentrated broth powder or liquid that comes packaged with the noodles. All you have to do is add a few extra ingredients – pear juice, sweet and sour cucumber pickle brine, and a touch of seasoning – and voila, you’ve got a refreshing, flavor-packed broth that rivals anything you’d find in a Korean restaurant [2].

And the toppings? Well, that’s where you can really let your creativity shine. Sure, you’ve got your classic cucumbers and Korean pears, but why not mix it up with some fresh daikon radish, juicy watermelon, or even a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds? The possibilities are endless!

But the true star of the show, in my opinion, is the spicy bibim-naengmyeon. This version swaps the icy broth for a tangy, gochujang-spiked sauce that coats the noodles in a delightful red hue [4]. It’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s refreshing – everything you want in a summer dish.

So, my fellow Bostonians, the next time the heat has you feeling like you’re melting into a puddle on the sidewalk, remember the power of chilled Korean noodles. Grab a pair of chopsticks, dive into a bowl of naengmyeon or bibim-naengmyeon, and let the icy goodness wash over you. Your taste buds (and your body) will thank you.

The Noodle Lowdown

When it comes to naengmyeon, the noodle itself is just as important as the broth. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types you’ll find:

Noodle Type Characteristics
Buckwheat Noodles (Pyeongyang Style) The most common type, with a slightly chewy texture. Good for those new to naengmyeon.
Arrowroot Noodles (Chik-Naengmyeon) Chewier and darker in color, with a more pronounced bite. My personal favorite.
Potato Starch Noodles Lighter and more delicate, with a silkier mouthfeel.

No matter which noodle you choose, the key is to cook them just until they’re al dente, then give them a quick rinse under cold water to lock in that perfect texture.

The Broth Breakdown

The broth is the heart and soul of naengmyeon, so getting it right is crucial. While the traditional method using beef stock and dongchimi brine is the gold standard, I’ve discovered a few shortcuts that deliver big on flavor without the long cooking time.

Broth Option Flavor Profile Preparation Time
Beef Stock and Dongchimi Brine [1] Rich, savory, and slightly tangy 1+ hours
Concentrated Broth Powder/Liquid [2] Flavorful, with added pear juice and cucumber brine 10 minutes
Vegan Dashi and Dongchimi-Style Broth [5] Plant-based, with a lovely umami depth 30-40 minutes

No matter which broth you choose, the key is to chill it to the point of having icy slush floating on top. This is the true mark of a refreshing naengmyeon experience.

Chilly Variations

While the classic mul-naengmyeon (cold noodles in broth) is a summer staple, there’s another version that’s equally deserving of your attention – bibim-naengmyeon. This spicy, sweet, and tangy cold noodle dish swaps the icy broth for a gochujang-spiked sauce that coats the noodles in a vibrant red hue [4].

The beauty of bibim-naengmyeon is that it allows you to really play with flavors and textures. You can load it up with crunchy vegetables like julienned cucumbers and carrots, cool and juicy sliced pears, and even a few slices of tender beef brisket. It’s a symphony of tastes and sensations in every bite.

And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, why not try your hand at a vegan version? Gastroplant’s recipe [5] swaps the traditional beef broth for a plant-based dashi and dongchimi-style broth, making it a delicious option for our herbivore friends.

No matter which chilled Korean noodle dish you choose, one thing is certain – this is the ultimate summer refresher, guaranteed to transport you straight to the heart of Seoul with every slurp.


[1] Maangchi. “Mul Naengmyeon (Korean Cold Noodle Soup).”, 2 June 2008,

[2] Gastroplant. “Mul Naengmyeon (Korean Cold Noodle Soup) [Vegan].”, 11 September 2021,

[3] Umami Organic. “Bibim Naengmyeon (Korean Spicy Cold Noodles).”, n.d.,

[4] Stellan Spice. “Bibim Naengmyeon (Korean Spicy Cold Noodles).”, n.d.,

[5] Gastroplant. “Mul Naengmyeon (Korean Cold Noodle Soup) [Vegan].”, 11 September 2021,