Besides ice cream, iced coffee, water melon and 팥빙수 (patbingsu: shaved ice dessert similar to halo-halo in the Philippines), there is another popular food Koreans enjoy in summer, 냉면 (naengmyeon: cold noodles). Naengmyeon is one of my favorite noodles in SK. Even when it’s not summer, my husband and I go to a restaurant to eat it. This time, since it’s awfully hot, we eat naengmyeon once a week! ^^
Naengmyeon is very refreshing, delicious and inexpensive (3, 500 – 5, 000 KRW) (130 – 186 PHP) (3 – 4 USD). It can easily make you feel full. It’s good for snack, lunch or dinner… even for dessert. After eating galbi or samgyupsal, some Koreans order it. In one restaurant we’ve been to, they offer naengmyeon for free when you have finished your meal.
So what’s in naengmyeon?
The thin, long and chewy noodles in naengmyeon are made from the flour and starch of buckwheat, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Other ingredients in naengmyeon include slices of pear, cucumber, hard-boiled egg or thin slices of cold boiled beef added into sour iced broth. Sometimes, Koreans put some vinegar and mustard sauce to add to the sour and spicy taste.
The two most popular kinds of naengmyeon are: 비빔 냉면 (bibim naengmyeon) and 물 냉면 (mul naengmyeon). My husband likes the former and I prefer the latter. Bibim naengmyeon is too spicy for me, because it has too much 고추장 (gojujang: red chili paste) that is mixed with other ingredients. (Bibim means “mixed” in Korean.) Mul naengmyeon is served as an icy cold soup, unlike bibim naengmyeon which has less soup sometimes served separately. (Mul means “water” in Korean.) I like to sip the soup right from the bowl, a technique I got from my husband. ^^
Naengmyeon is usually served in a stainless bowl, so even when you don’t eat it right away, it’s still cold. Some Koreans cut the long noodles before they eat, so when you order naengmyeon, you are given a pair of scissors to cut the noodles with. I like my noodles cut, but my husband enjoys his noodles the way they are. He always asks for more gojujang dressing, though. According to Korean superstition, eating your noodles without cutting them will give you long life.
Most of the time, hubby and I order 왕만두 (wang mandu: considered as “the king of dumplings” because of its big size) to go with our naengmyeon.
You can buy instant naengmyeon in any grocery store in Korea, but they are not as appetizing as the one you order in a restaurant. If you want to make your own naengmyeon, here is a video from Maangchi.com.
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