Summer Cooking #1

After a two weeks of California relaxation, I am back to blogging.

This summer, I’m hoping to start cooking more and the “Summer Cooking” series will be an attempt to hold me to that hope. I’ve been cooking in my small grad housing apartment this past year but the kitchenette is so small that (especially during the final paper writing season) I opted for getting take-out from the nice Chinese restaurant near campus more times than I care to count. When I head back to Philly in a few days, I’ll be working and hopefully saving money by eating my homemade lunches and dinners (and breakfasts..if I ever wake up in time).

This first post of the series will be my (lazy) spin on a Korean cold noodle dish: bibim naeng myeon. It is a spicy noodle dish with hot pepper flakes, a delicious spicy sauce and some toppings. Although I’m not Korean and have never visited, I’ve loved eating in the Korean restaurants here in the states (and in Japan. Korean bbq in Japan is the bomb dot com). My dad in particular would order this dish or the mul-naeng myeon when we went out, but this was my first time trying to make it at home.

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Unrelated, but still related, I think food is a great gateway to learning new words in different languages. So, apparently bibim = mixed (which makes sense because my favorite bibimbap is a bowl of rice with different toppings that are mixed together, and bap = rice).

The wonderful Maangchi, a Korean food blogger/writer currently living in New York, has great recipes so I made mine mostly following her instructions. However, I was missing a few ingredients and also was too lazy to find the house blender so my version was kind of a makeshift bibim naeng myeon. If you have a blender, making this dish is super easy. It’s perfect for the summer! Throw the sauce ingredients in the blender, and in a few seconds you’ll have it ready (refrigerate for optimum taste). Then, you only have to prepare the toppings (which can be done ahead of time). However, my trial proved that even if without a blender you can have pretty pleasing results! 🙂 Happy eating!


 

How to Make Bibim Naeng Myeon:

  1. Make the sauce (see ingredients below) and put it in the refrigerator
  2. Prep the toppings
  3. Boil the noodles (dry buckwheat/potato starch noodles) for 2-3 minutes, and then rinse in cold water/ice cubes.
  4. Plate + enjoy !

 

What to Use:

Sauce (toss in blender, or chop pear and garlic very finely and mix in other ingredients):

  • 1 bosc pear, or an Asian pear if you can find one! (as mentioned above, I was too lazy to get out my blender, so instead I peeled, grated and then extra finely chopped the pear. Clearly, this was probably more work than finding my blender, but I just really didn’t want to go through the hassle of washing my blender afterwards)
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  • 2 large dollops of gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • sesame seeds

Maangchi and other recipe-makers require the use of about 1/4 onion in the sauce. Because I didn’t want to chop onions too finely, I just added the second clove of garlic and called it a day. My sauce wasn’t as complex tasting as it could have with the onion, but it was still delicious. I also forgot to add the ginger, but again, it still tasted great. Next time I’ll be sure to remember to add it though. Maangchi also recommends adding corn syrup. I didn’t want to do that so just added sugar and extra pear. Sesame oil also appears in some places but not others. Clearly, mine is not pretending to be authentic, but I do promise it’s easy!

Toppings

  • Cucumber slices (I used a Japanese cucumber because I like their firm texture the best)
  • Daikon radish slices (I dunked them in salt + water for maybe 20 minutes while everything was getting ready)
  • Hard boiled egg (cut in half)
  • Chopped green onions
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Grilled pork slices (optional, and I think traditionally it’s usually beef)

Because I didn’t read directions, I also opted to put my noodles in a little bit of cold, clear broth as well (which is usually reserved for mul-naengmyeon and not the spicy bibim naengmyeon).

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