Spicy Cold Noodles Offer an Antidote to Summer Heat

With temperatures soaring, I give you three little words of comfort: Korean! Cold! Noodles!  A traditional dish, it’s called bibim guksu — mixed noodles — and it’s packed with kimchi and other kicky condiments that form a sort of sweet-and-sour kimchi dressing. Usually made with cold buckwheat noodles, naengmyeon, or thin wheat flour noodles, somyeon, it’s also good with Vietnamese rice noodles (or so I say, but I’m a heathen).  Could this be the anti-ramen, a trend on the rise? I don’t know, but it’s my new favorite cold pasta, custom-made for summer — refreshingly and unapologetically hot and spicy, and perfect for lunch or dinner.

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Like some venerable Italian pasta dishes that are seemingly made from an empty cupboard — Korean staples are used here instead — this cold noodle dish is a breeze to put together despite the long list of ingredients.

Many of these are available at an ordinary supermarket, and virtually everything can be bought online, but it’s more fun to go to a Korean grocery, if only to see all the different types of kimchi.

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  • Basically sweet potatoes.
  • Pumpkin spice latte.
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  • Chai cookies with cinnamon

Korean food famously makes frequent use of hot pepper. But the bright red Korean red pepper flakes, gochugaru, are without seeds and are only medium hot, so you can use a lot of them.The fermented red pepper paste gochujang, also used in many dishes, tastes sweet and mellow at first, then fiery.  As for the how of it, you first assemble the sauce, with chopped kimchi, ginger, garlic, sesame and the aforementioned two types of red pepper.
I add a little miso for depth. A little brown sugar, some vinegar, some lime juice. There’s no flame involved.

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