Bibim Naengmyeon (Spicy Cold Buckwheat Noodles)

November 16, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger, prop styling by Veronica Olson, food styling by Yossy Arefi
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 12 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

The best bowl of naengmyeon I’ve had was during a trip to Seoul a few years ago to visit my Korean relatives. It’s one of my most vivid food memories—sitting with my uncles, slurping huge bowls of cold naengmyeon on an extremely humid summer day.

There are two main varieties of naengmyeon: mul naengmyeon and bibim naengmyeon. Mul naengmyeon, which consists of cold noodles in a clear beef-based broth, is more widely known, but its sibling, bibim naengmyeon, is just as delicious and refreshing. Bibim naengmyeon is cold noodles mixed in a spicy gochujang-based sauce and topped with a variety of vegetables. While I love them both, I have a penchant for anything spicy. If I’m deciding between the two, I’ll usually order bibim naengmyeon for myself and hope that someone else orders mul naengmyeon so I can steal a few bites of theirs.

The sauce is the hero in this recipe—it’s mostly spicy, but also slightly sweet, salty, and sour, and best of all comes together in just a few minutes. It’s also great made in advance because as it sits in the fridge, the flavors deepen and become more complex.

The quick pickled radish part of the recipe comes from my aunt on my mom’s side, who is my go-to expert on all things Korean cooking. There’s a decent amount of prep worked involved in this recipe, but once everything is ready to go, the cooking is minimal. P.S.: If you omit the egg, it’s a vegan dish and is the perfect make-ahead weekday lunch, if you ask me.

Note: Restaurants often have yellow mustard paste and vinegar on standby at the table. If you want an extra spice kick or zing, you can add a small spoonful of these on the noodles. —Stephanie Loo

What You'll Need
  • Quick Pickled Radish
  • 1 medium mu (Korean radish; about 700 grams)
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean hot red pepper flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Noodles & Assembly
  • 1 Korean pear (about 300 grams)
  • 2 scallions, divided
  • 1/2 small yellow onion (about 50 grams), coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean hot red pepper flakes)
  • 3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot red pepper paste)
  • 2 tablespoons rice syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 English cucumber (about 135 grams)
  • 1 pound dried naengmyeon noodles (Korean buckwheat noodles)
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for serving
  1. Quick Pickled Radish
  2. Peel the radish and using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the radish into thin matchsticks (2½ to 3 inches in length). This will yield about 4 cups.
  3. Transfer the radish strips to a jar. Add the vinegar, sugar, gochugaru, and salt and shake well to combine. Refrigerate while you prepare the sauce and noodles.
  4. Do Ahead: The radishes can be pickled 1 month ahead. Keep chilled.
  1. Noodles & Assembly
  2. Peel and coarsely chop one-half of the pear and transfer to a food processor or blender. Coarsely chop 1 scallion and add to the food processor. Add the onion, garlic, gochugaru, gochujang, rice syrup, vinegar, oil, and soy sauce and process until smooth. This will yield about 1 cup sauce. Refrigerate while you prepare the noodles and garnishes.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Using a slotted spoon, gently lower in the eggs. Cook, uncovered, for 8 minutes, then immediately transfer to an ice bath to cool before peeling. Peel, then slice in half lengthwise. Reserve the pot of water.
  4. While the eggs cook, slice the cucumber and the remaining Korean pear half into thin matchsticks. Thinly slice the remaining scallion.
  5. When ready to serve, bring the reserved pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles for 4 minutes, until slightly chewy and elastic. Drain and rinse well with cold water.
  6. Divide the noodles among 4 large shallow serving bowls. Spoon about ¼ cup of the bibim sauce over each bowl of noodles.
  7. Place the sliced pear, sliced cucumber, pickled radishes, and 2 egg halves on top of the noodles. Drizzle with some oil and sprinkle with the scallions and seeds.
  8. When ready to eat, use scissors to cut through the noodles a few times to make them easier to mix and eat.
  9. Do Ahead: The bibim sauce can be made 1 month ahead. Transfer to an airtight container and chill.

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