Crispy Soba Noodle Pancakes with Scallions and Gochujang – Recipe

Crispy soba pancakes

Last week I asked my friends "Tell the truth: isn't crispy the best part of any dish?", and got impassioned responses, ranging from "Of course. Crispy is carmelized", to  "Not if it's a gummy bear…" . For me, it is all about the crunch and those toasty flavors. So when I found I had lots of noodles left from last week's Japanese-style soba noodle soup, I knew just what I wanted to do with them: pan-fry them into a little pancake with lots of surface area, so it is all crispy, all the time.

My hope was that these guys would form a pancake without having to add egg or any other binder, so I could really crisp up the noodles without burning the egg, and it worked great! They locked together beautifully.

For condiments, I added sesame seeds which are always happy whenever toasty flavors are around, cucumber and green onion, and a dipping sauce made from Korean gochujang (aka kochujang) chili paste with mirin. Buckwheat noodles are eaten in Korea too; I know they are served cold in a dish called naengmyon, but I'm not sure if they go by a different name when hot, or if they are ever fried. Can anyone enlighten me?

I really enjoy gochujang as an alternative to other chili pastes. It not extremely hot, and usually includes fermented soybeans and rice for a rather complex, appetizing flavor. I would compare it to chilis mixed with miso. If you don't have access to gochujang, you could make another kind of chili sauce using, say, Sriracha.

I think this dish would be best served as an appetizer or bar snack, with cold sake or beer. It makes for fairly messy eating as the crispy, salty noodles break up, so I wouldn't necessarily hand pass it to people in their best party dresses!

By the way, drop me a line on Twitter, I'd love to engage in more conversation with y'all. (Can you tell I grew up in Kentucky?)

Crispy Soba Noodle Pancakes with Korean Kochujang Hot Sauce
Vegetarian and vegan; not gluten-free
Makes about 8 pancakes

  • 1/2 cup gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • mirin (rice wine), or for a different taste, rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 lb. dry soba noodles, cooked and cooled according to package directions
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 3 green onions (scallions), white parts, thinly sliced
  • cucumber, peeled if needed, thinly sliced
  • toasted sesame oil
  1. Whisk the gochujang with the mirin until it reaches a dipping sauce consistency, and set aside.
  2. Combine the soba noodles with the sesame seeds.
  3. In your largest skillet, bring about 1/8" of oil to frying temperature over medium-high heat. Just short of smoking hot.
  4. For each pancake, put a nice handful of noodles in the skillet and sort of press down to flatten. Do as many as you can comfortably fit at one time. Fry on one side until golden brown, maybe a minute or two, then flip and fry the other side. Drain on paper towels and season with sea salt.
  5. Serve as soon as possible, garnished with a grind of black pepper, green onions, cucumber and a few drops of toasted sesame oil, and pass the dipping sauce.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, April 20th, 2009 in Appetizers, Recipes, Side Dishes.

10 Responses to “Crispy Soba Noodle Pancakes with Scallions and Gochujang – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    Hey Michael,
    these noodles look amazing! I have recently started eating Kosher- basically vegetarian and this looks like a great dish to try out. I’m kind of unfamiliar with the Korean ingredients. Where can I find them? Any tips? I have a blog called Nosh and Tell with my friend Whitney (also a southerner and user of y’all). Check it out! Thanks for the great recipe!
    Ariel Kanter
    link to

  2. Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 5:54 pm #


  3. Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

    Those look so tasty. Dangerously tasty! 🙂

  4. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    April 20, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    Hi Ariel – yes, being vegetarian makes being Kosher pretty darn easy, right?
    I really don’t know NYC at all, but I’m sure there is a Korea Town where
    gochujang will be as common as fake maple syrup at Denny’s. Soba can be had
    at either Japanese or Korean grocers. I imagine a larger Asian grocery of
    any nationality might have both of them – that is the case at Uwajimaya in
    Seattle. Can any NYC readers point Ariel in a more specific direction?

  5. Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    There is an H-Mart (a korean grocery) on 32nd st between broadway and fifth ave. It’s a small store and you can find all the korean ingredients there. If having trouble, it’s best to ask some customers around you b/c it’s a really tight space!

    Hope this helps

  6. Reply
    April 21, 2009 at 8:14 am #

    What a great idea. I bet one of those crispy pancakes would be nice in soup, kin a croutony sort of way…

  7. Reply
    April 22, 2009 at 3:36 am #

    Hi Michael, just wanted to let you know that you have an little error in your twitter address(its your status when you yourself is logged in. You might want to change it to link to so your fans can follow 🙂

    By the way I twittered to you earlier about our less-than-6-degrees of separation, lol.

  8. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    April 22, 2009 at 6:47 am #

    So that was actually on purpose, based on a suggestion from – the
    idea is that it launches twitter in a state where it is ready for the user
    to send a status update talking to me, so we can get a conversation going.
    But it is a good data point that it looked like an error to you, maybe I
    should go back to the traditional approach.

  9. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    April 24, 2009 at 8:23 am #

    Yeah, I could totally see that, as long as you add it at the last minute to
    retain the crunch. Good concept.

  10. Reply
    March 15, 2010 at 7:24 am #

    YUM! These look amazing!

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