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Bibim Naeng Myun (Spicy Cold Noodles)Jun 19, 2011

I updated this recipe versus the original using some rice vinegar and brown sugar in place of the apple cider and part of the nashi pear. This revised version is much closer to my husband's favorite naeng myun from Soo Ra Myun Ok in Daejeon and Chil Bo Myun Ok in LA. Almost there!

This is the story of one of the greatest love affairs of all time. It involves a boy and a bowl of cold noodles and the lengths to which he will go to be united with his beloved. Our protagonist tells me it began in high school -- at least, that's his earliest memory of it, and it's not the type of meal a kid would enjoy anyway. There was a restaurant in Daejeon where he and his family would go after church. The best in the city, his mom had said. And when he tasted that sweet-tangy-spicy sauce coating those ice cold, chewy noodles, it filled both his stomach and his heart.

For a while, it seemed that these lovers were destined to be star-crossed. He moved to Northern California, and though he knocked on the door of every Korean restaurant, he was met with head-shaking and shrugs. A few of them offered something with the right name, but the first bite unmasked the lie. Then, nearly 20 years later, his wife happened upon a restaurant in LA's Koreatown where the bowls were ice cold, the noodles were perfectly chewy, and they even served the traditional steaming cup of yook soo (beef broth) alongside. On his next trip down south, he stopped in to try it. It had been so many years that his tastebuds could have been mistaken, but the flavor was so fully ingrained in his memory, that if this wasn't the real thing, it sure was close.

So our young man has once again been reunited with his lost love, and now trips to LA have become pilgrimages not only to convene with good friends but also to savor those noodles that have long eluded him.

Serves 2.


  • 1 tsp. hot mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp. water
  • 1/3 Japanese cucumber
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 4 tbsp. gotchukaru + a pinch
  • 1/2 nashi (Asian pear)
  • 1/4 med. onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2" piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 c. corn syrup
  • 4 tbsp. gotchujang
  • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 3 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • Dried naeng myun noodles
  • Eggs, hard-boiled



  1. Naeng myun is best eaten from very cold bowls. About 20 minutes prior to eating, place individual bowls (I use metal ones) in the refrigerator.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the mustard powder with the water to make a paste, and set aside.
  3. Thinly slice the cucumber on the diagonal, then toss with 1 tsp. sugar, a pinch of salt, vinegar and a pinch of gotchukaru, and set aside. Peel the pear half. Thinly slice one quarter, then cover with water mixed with 1 tsp. sugar.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the other pear quarter (roughly chopped), onion, garlic, ginger, corn syrup, 1 tbsp. gotchukaru, gotchujang, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, green onions, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Process until nearly smooth. Add sesame oil and hot mustard paste, stir well, then refrigerate.
  5. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. When at a full, roiling boil, add the noodles and cook for about 5 minutes (test one before taking off the heat -- it should be very al dente). Carry pot to the sink, pour off most of the water, then fill the pot with cold water. Swirl the noodles around in the water. Pour off most of the water again, and add cold water back to the pot. Repeat as many times as needed so that the noodles become very cold.
  6. Pour noodles into a colander or basket, and rinse with water to remove all excess starch.
  7. At this point, divide the noodles between the cold bowls and either place them back in the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes or serve immediately. To serve, pour sauce over the noodles (enough to evenly coat all of the noodles), top with cucumbers, pear slices, and half of an egg. Naeng myun is traditionally eaten as an accompaniment to kalbi or bulgogi and served with a cup of hot yook soo.


Adapted from Maangchi

posted by

I have the Momofuku cookbook and was looking at the original menu at the Noodle Bar and saw an item listed as Bi Bim Neng Myun, I was not familiar with this dish and was curious. I googled the menu item along with Momofuku and found your blog. Made the recipe last night and it will definitely be a keeper, loved it. The sauce is fantastic, only wish I had doubled it as I can think of other ways to use it - chicken wings?

posted by

Hi liseanne1! I'm so glad you liked the recipe, and I'm really impressed that you were so adventurous to try it. Many people I know are scared off by the very intense sauce, but I love it, so I can see that we are kindred spirits :-) Using the sauce on chicken wings sounds delightful as well as maybe a garnish for vegetables? I'd love to know what other uses you find!

posted by

Did a taste test last night, David Chang's Octo Vin on his fried chicken recipe and your Bibim sauce on the same fried chicken. Both were great but my 3 boys loved the sweetness of the Bibim sauce versus the high vinegar flavour of the Octo Vin - they wanted me to pass on their "3 thumbs up"!

posted by

Oh, that is great to hear! Kids are the ultimate tough critics, so I'm so glad that the naeng myun sauce passed their very stringent standards! (I also hope that when I have children that they are as sophisticated eaters as yours are.) Please keep me posted on any other culinary delights you try!

posted by

What should I use since I don't have a food processor?

posted by

I would suggest grating ingredients like the onion, pear, ginger, and garlic and then mixing with the remaining ingredients. You could also try finely mincing them. It will have a coarser texture, but the flavors should come together fine. If you have a mortar and pestle or molcajete, you could grind the minced ingredients to give them a smoother texture and to release more of the flavors.

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