Serves a Crowd

Spicy Korean Buckwheat Noodle Salad

May 13, 2019
2 Ratings
Photo by Lauren
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

As summer is approaching, I could not stop thinking about this spicy Korean cold noodle salad. This noodle salad has many varieties, but this one has become my favorite with the addition of tahini. It is spicy, tangy, and yet creamy. The cold vegetables give a satisfying crunchiness while the spicy gochujang sauce will heat you up and make you sweat in a hot summer day. There is a Korean saying: "yi-yul-chi-yul," meaning fight heat with heat. Once you have finished eating this dish, you will find yourself sweating out the heat.

To make this cold noodle salad, you must prepare the vegetables in a way that best resemble the buckwheat noodles - in matchsticks, julienne, or sliced. The point is that you are able to grab each vegetable topping with the chopsthick.

Another unique characteristic of Korean dishes is that you have to mix everything with your hands. The point of this is so that as gently massaging the ingredients togehter the dressing gets encorporated, absorbed even. Koreans do not simply toss salads. There is even a term for it. "Son-mat" simply means taste of hands. Koreans believe that everyone has different "son-mat" meaning everyone's food taste different. The "son-mat" develops as one ages, hence, moms' food will always taste better because of the developed "son-mat". With this being said, make sure to use your clean hands to fully experience the taste of Korean cuisine.

The spicy sauce makes about 1 cup which serves about 4-6 persons. Making the sauce a night before, or even a couple of hours before, making this salad will yield to even better result. Feel free to use any kinds of veggies like cucumbers, carrots, baby lettuce, onions, etc.

Test Kitchen Notes

Craving more Korean meals and the stories around them? Tune into the premier episode of Counterjam, where host Peter J. Kim sits down with Chef Roy Choi and comedian Margaret Cho! —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Gochujang sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Gochujang (Korean pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoon Gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Buckwheat noodle salad
  • 14 ounces dry buckwheat noodles
  • 1 medium size carrot
  • 1 medium size cucumber
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 4 handfuls baby lettuce
  • 1 Gochujang sauce
  • 1 pinch roasted sesame seeds for garnish
  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients together, cover, and keep it in the refrigerator until use. Add more tahini if too spicy.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook dry buckwheat noodles according to package instructions.
  3. While noodles are being cooked, cut the carrot, cucumber, and red onion into matchsticks (or julienne) and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add baby lettuce (or any other kind of leafy green vegetables) into the bowl.
  4. When the noodles are ready, drain and rinse with cold water.
  5. Gently fold in the noodles with the Gochujang sauce. Using your hands, mix everything together.
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Candice
  • Yolanda
  • Lauren

6 Reviews

Candice December 28, 2020
Lauren, this salad is absolutely delicious!! I know I will make it again and again. I'm a huge fan of Korean food, so I actually had all the ingredients for the sauce on hand and it was SO GOOD. I was skeptical about adding the tahini, but it was perfect, and not too spicy for my partner and I. I didn't have buckwheat noodles so I used other Korean noodles I had on hand (bibimnaengmyun), but I think even ramen or any pasta would have been fine. I also used just the veggies I had - broccoli, red cabbage, green onion, lettuce and added some grilled chicken and half an egg. Delicious, highly recommend! Thanks so much for sharing this! :)
Lauren December 28, 2020
Candice, thank you so much for your sharing that! I am so happy to hear that you liked the recipe :) I actually wanted to use bibim-naengmyun but I didn't have it at the time, so I used buckwheat noodles!
Candice March 31, 2021
Hi again, Lauren - this is the third time I've made this recipe (I now make a double recipe so that I can freeze some of it or have it a few times a week!). Still love it. Buckwheat noodles are great! I don't have those or bibim-naengmyun, so tonight I will use rice noodles. Thanks again for this delicious recipe!
Lauren April 2, 2021
Candice! I am so happy that you like this recipe (food) so much :) Your kind comments keeps me encouraged to make more recipes for the community. Thank you! I might make this recipe tonight as well!
Yolanda May 14, 2019
I want to make this! How much Gochujang sauce should I add to the noodles?
Lauren May 14, 2019
Hi Yolanda! I added just a little less than 1/4cup of the sauce in my bowl.