Bibim Naengmyeon – Jjolmyeon – Cold and Spicy Korean Noodles – Recipe

Cold. Not cool. Cold, cold, cold. Ice cold. That’s what makes these noodles great.

I first had bibim naengmyeon at a restaurant named Mandoo Bar in the New York’s Koreatown, although they call it Joll Noodles. Perhaps there is a difference, but google has failed to set me straight, so if any of you can shed more light on the subject, I’m all ears. I see that some folks make them with buckwheat (soba) noodles, but the version I had used sweet potato starch noodles (like in Alice’s japchae) which are slippery and very chewy and altogether delightful. You might like to offer your diners kitchen shears to cut the noodles in their bowls before eating.

Update: Angie in the comments below, along with @KoreanFood and @SavorySweetLife got me straightened out. So the correct name for this dish is jjolmyeon. Jjol noodles started as a mistake at a noodle factory; they accidentally made some noodles that were too thick and chewy, but they became a hit item. And indeed, the dish I had in New York had very chewy noodles. If you can’t find them, the naengmyon make a very good substitute.

The ice cold noodles are served in an ice cold bowl filled with a spicy, thin, ice cold sauce and topped with ice cold, thinly sliced vegetables. It is just incredibly refreshing. If you serve this at room temperature or just barely cool, I’m going to be mad at you. Don’t make me come over there.

I decided to play with the toppings a bit, so I’ve used blanched asparagus tips, shaved asparagus stems, radish sprouts (kaiware) and lotus root in addition to the traditional cucumber and carrot. A halved hard boiled egg is often included, but I left it off today. I know the kaiware and lotus might not be easy to come by, so you should feel free to choose other vegetables. Certainly shredded lettuce, bean sprouts or pickled daikon would all be very appropriate.

When you read the steps, you’ll see that it calls for moving several of the ingredients through an ice bath. To set up an ice bath, fill a large bowl with lots of ice cubes and cold water. Don’t skimp on this step; it both chills the vegetables and noodles and gives them a nice, snappy texture.

If time permits, serve these noodles with a variety of banchan and vegetarian kimchi.

Did I mention, serve it cold?

Jjolmyon or Bibim Naengmyeon 
Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten Free
Serves 4

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup kochujang (Korean chili / soybean paste)
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 inch piece grated fresh ginger
  • Up to 1/2 cup ice cold water
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together half of the kochujang and all of the mirin, rice vinegar, salt, and ginger. Whisk in enough ice cold water to reach a thin sauce consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding the rest of the kochujang depending on your heat preference. Refrigerate, or if you want to serve soon, place in the freezer.
To complete the dish
  • 1 bunch thick-stemmed asparagus
  • 12 thin slices of peeled fresh lotus root (optional)
  • 12 ounces Korean sweet potato starch noodles (first choice: jjolmyon, second choice: naengmyon)
  • Toasted Asian sesame oil
  • 1 cup julienned carrot (preferably cut on a mandoline)
  • 12 thin slices cucumber
  • Kaiware (radish) sprouts (optional), trimmed
  1. Place your serving bowls to cool in the coldest part of your refrigerator, or in the freezer if you want to serve soon.
  2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Set up a large bowl full of ice and water.
  3. Remove the coarse part of the asparagus stems. Cut off the tips including about 1″ of stem and blanch in the boiling water until tender, about 1 minute. I like to do this directly in a small sieve so it is easy to get them back out. Transfer to the ice bath, then when chilled transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate. Repeat the blanching and chilling with the lotus root, if using. Leave the boiling water going on the stove.
  4. Use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to thinly shave the remaining portion of the asparagus stems. Refresh the slices in the ice bath for a minute or two and then refrigerate.
  5. Boil the noodles according to package directions, or for 10 minutes if you can’t read the package directions. Drain and transfer to the ice bath.
  6. When you are ready to serve, divide the sauce among the chilled bowls. Drain the noodles and toss them with a bit of the sesame oil, and divide among the bowls. Top the noodles with portions of the asparagus tips, shaved asparagus, lotus root, carrot, cucumber and kaiware. Serve immediately.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

17 Responses to “Bibim Naengmyeon – Jjolmyeon – Cold and Spicy Korean Noodles – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    May 23, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    I never thought about using dangmyeon in this dish but it’s a great idea. This looks like a treat for a hot summer day! Love it!

    Question: If I substitute the noodles with soba, can I still enter the contest?

  2. Reply
    Teresa Park
    May 23, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    I’ve been making it since I got inspired by your photo ^^/

  3. Reply
    Anne Campbell
    May 23, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Darn it! I haven’t finished all the recipes in your book yet, and now you’ve come out with another one that I have to try. 😉

    Have you ever tried making your own kimchi? I’m not a kimchi connoisseur, but I’ve found it super-easy and quick to make (if you don’t count letting it sit for a few days).

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      I have yet to start doing any of my own fermentation. I know it is inevitable, but somehow I’ve resisted so far. Soon!

  4. Reply
    May 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Hey Michael!
    What a great recipe! I think the addition of radish sprouts and asparagus makes this dish a beautiful kiss of sophistication. 🙂
    So I just read up on what the difference is between Jollmyun and Nangmyun. Jollmyun was made actually by a mistake at a Nangmyun factory in Incheon back in the 70s. A factory worker set the noodle press wrong by mistake and the noodle that came out of it was much thicker than how Nangmyun is supposed to be. The factory couldn’t sell it so they gave the noodle away for free to a snack bar nearby and the owner mixed it with the gochujang sauce like you have, with cucumber and whatnot. This dish became really popular since then, and it’s a staple dish at every corner snack bar in Korea.
    Jollmyun is very chewy, from a word “Jollgit”. The dough is mixed with 130-150celsius heat from the beginning, and also with a lot of pressure, and this apparently gives the dough the chewiness. It’s basically made with a similar process as making Ddokbokki Ddok.
    So. I’m glad I found this out too. I never knew why the Jollmyun is so chewy.
    I think everybody who grew up in Korea has a great memory eating Jollmyun, most probably from eating after school at a snack bar. Yum!
    See ya!

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      That’s fantastic information, Angie, thank you so much! Now I know where I went wrong, I was searching for “Joll Noodles” like it was called on the menu, it didn’t occur to me to search for jollmyun. I really appreciate the info.

  5. Reply
    May 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Wow, I bought these noodles in my Asian store but never used them so I froze them. Great recipe, thanks. New to your site and I love what you are doing here.

  6. Reply
    Mary Crowe
    May 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    Love it!!

  7. Reply
    Helena FitzWilliam O'Reilly
    May 24, 2012 at 6:50 am #

    can’t wait to make this!!

  8. Reply
    May 25, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    This looks so beautiful!!! I’m going to try this soon b/c it’s already 94 degrees here. grr. This looks refreshing and delish. I always leave your blog a little more educated. 🙂 You should do grocery store tours of these specialty stores. I would totally pay for that…if i lived in Seattle. 🙂

  9. Reply
    May 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Michael, that is another super recipe. I use to work with five lovely Korean ladies back in Seattle, and they often had this salad for lunch, it was sooooo delicious! I asked them for the recipe but I guess my request was lost in the rain…:) I am glad you posted it, with limited ingredients but I can still do it. Thank you very much!

  10. Reply
    May 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Spicy, yummy goodness! If you have some ice in the freezer, add a couple of pieces to make it even cooler. This is great for summer.

  11. Reply
    Omnivore Mike
    June 2, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    this was so good AND I found a new market to shop at as well.

    • Reply
      June 2, 2012 at 10:28 am #

       @Omnivore Mike Nice! Glad you liked it. Did you serve it nice and cold?

      • Reply
        Omnivore Mike
        June 4, 2012 at 4:20 am #

         @michaelnatkin  @Omnivore Mike
         If I answer no, will you come over and cook for us? :)Everything went into the ice tray, including the serving bowls.

  12. Reply
    August 19, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    Nangmyeon also goes well with pickled daikon radish strips. For the sauce I used both gochujang and gochugaru (coarse pepper powder) for extra heat and garlic instead of ginger.
    Interesting fact: Although now Nangmyeon is considered a summer dish, it started as a winter food in Josun dynasty (way before artificial refrigeration was first invented).

    • Reply
      August 20, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      I’ve just been experimenting with finely ground gochugaru in a quick apple kimchi and a salad dressing. Delicious stuff. The on I bought at Uwajimaya isn’t very hot, but has a lovely citric bite. Is that common or is it usually quite hot?

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