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It’s really hot in Korea. We’re talking dry desert hot one day, and sticky rainforest humid the next. We’re so exhausted from the heat we rarely want to leave the house, but rather than hiding in our house and starving to death, it’s time for us to adventure to the closest cold noodle house and have some “Naengmyeon” (냉면). Woot woot!

Now to be totally honest, the first time we ate Naengmeyon, we totally hated it. Naengmyeon basically means “cold noodles,” but it’s the preparation of those cold noodles that’s totally awesome. The concept of cold noodles was completely baffling to us as Canadians, since we don’t really have an equivalent to it that we’re aware of. Add that to the fact that Mul Naengmyeon is also vinegary and tart and you have a dish that we really weren’t into when we first tried it out.

However, we never try a new food just once, and so we gave it a few more shots, and we discovered that some places just really suck at making it. You’ll get bland broth, or overly vinegary broth, or a sticky overcooked hunk of noodles, or lukewarm broth with no ice, etc, and these were the things that turned us off Naengmyeon at first, but after finding some great places, we 100% fell in love.

Anyhow, Naengmeyon is made from buckwheat or sweet potatoes, so the noodles are often brown. Also, they’re quite chewy so before you start eating them you should pre-cut them with the giant shears the restaurant will give you, or else you’ll have noodles dangling from your mouth for most of the meal, and that’s just unappealing!

Mul Naengmyeon

Mul Naengmyeon: Cold Noodles in Ice Broth

There are two main types of naengmyeon: mul naengmyeon (물냉면) and bibim naengmyeon (비빔냉면) and they are both equally refreshing. Mul naengmyeon is served in an icy broth which is usually made out of chicken or beef, and sometimes dongchimi (which is a type of vinegar pickled white kimchi, and not nearly as flavorful compared to the beef and chicken). We’re not fond of the dongchimi mul naengmyeon. Some people love it and find it more refreshing, but once you have a meaty broth you kinda never want to go back. Also, on the side, you’ll get two containers of vinegar and wasabi-like mustard. Mix those in according to personal taste. Don’t overdo the mustard, though, because it’s got a lingering kick to it.

Bibim Naengmyeon

Bibim Naengmyeon: Cold Noodles mixed with Gochujang

Bibim naengmyeon is made up of the exact same noodles but it’s served without broth, or the broth is served on the side. Instead, it has a huge dollop of gochujang (hot pepper paste) which is mixed with sesame oil and sometimes a bit of ginger and garlic. You don’t usually mix in the mustard and vinegar either. Just mix up the noodles until they’re coated with the sauce and dig in.

The most basic naengmyeon should come with a hard boiled egg, slices of pickled daikon radish, and julienned cucumbers. Some fancy-pants places also serve it with a few thin slices of delicious beef and some slices of Korean pear. Some even serve it with pieces of watermelon in it. Yes, watermelon. It doesn’t sound right, having pear and watermelon in your soup, but damn it’s delicious!

Altogether, we can’t really give a full account of all naengmyeons, because there are so many of them out there. We did want to give an intro to them, though, and to encourage more people to try it out, because it’s awesome and we love it, and we have a lot of friends here who have been in Korea for a while and have never tried it. So give naengmyeon a shot. It rocks!

P.S. We weren’t joking about that bit at the beginning of the video when it comes to supposedly eating hot food in the summer to cool you down. We heard it from a Korean friend before, but we just thought he was confused (because he’s not really THAT in touch with his Korean roots). But then the other day on the radio we heard someone say the same thing. Really? Hot foods to cool you down? Just so you can sweat? That seems like such a convoluted way of getting to the same goal. Sweat will cool you down, or cold food will cool you down: so why go through the pain of eating hot food in the summer to get cool? Cut out the middle man! Just eat cold foods! Supposedly also you’re supposed to eat cold food in the winter to warm you up? Is that right? It’s totally confusing to us.

ToFebruary
  1. Sarah La-Nguyễn

    2 years later, I finaly try naengmyun and omg, forever loving it. I know to some people it takes them a couple of tries to like it but absolutely love it! well maybe because I’ve had cold noodles before but just not prepared like this hehe

  2. omg my mom told me about eating hot soup on hot days when I was a kid and I thought “you are so not my mother. you are an alien from another galaxy. are you kidding me?” but of course I kept that to myself unless I wanted a backhand across the head. ok so now I know she wasn’t lying to get me to eat my soup. Ohma! I love you man!

  3. Oooh yeah, you go girl! Revenge is sweet, tastes best when served cold, and, the biggest plus, it doesnt make you fat ^.~

  4. I make it at home, in Arizona, from scratch (other then the noodles obviously). Sometimes I buy the packaged ones because they have no beef, chicken or pork in the seasonings. I don’t know how I missed this video. Hahaha. So happy.

  5. Anonymous

    what is the broth on the side for? I went to a Korean restaurant and got dolsot bibimbap and they gave me broth on the side…. i was like.. okaaaayyyy. I just ignored it. LOL but in general whats the broth for? for like pouring over the food. or to drink on the side. IDK.

  6. Anonymous

    Do they have non-spicy ones? I’m not much of a spicy fan…. :P

  7. mashed potato

    Lol. I personally love spicy food on a hot day. 

  8. mashed potato

    Lol. I personally love spicy food on a hot day. 

  9. mashed potato

    Lol. I personally love spicy food on a hot day. 

  10. Anonymous

    Regarding the “hot food cools you down” thing, my family and I heard the same thing when we were in India, although people recommended drinking hot sweet tea rather than eating hot food. I admit that I didn’t really become a fan of the concept either.

  11. Hahaha, It is a lot of fun watching your video , thank you, and I didn’t know that we should eat an egg first to protect , I love your video !!

  12. OH here in Malaysia we are fasting (not eating and drinking until certain times) and i watch this video to make me feel full :D

  13. Uuuuuhm, it’s not just Korea! I also (have) live(d) in canada, and I know that cold foods heat you up and hot foods keep you cold! It’s not just a korean thing, it’s a pretty normal thing. Not just one nation can claim it.

    • yeah I know that because I learned about it from my high-school biology class so its obviously universal known fact
      we say 以熱治熱, its in Chinese character, and means rule the heat by the heat
      they say same thing in Japan I heard them saying while I was living in Japan and I assume in China as well
      We are not claiming it or so
      We just quote the phrase often and practice it a lot
      We do have 3 special days in summer season which are dedicated to eat hot food for your health
      like in thanks giving they eat turkey in other countries
      So I think I can say we practice it more cause we have days for it

  14. mahendra sarthi

    wow cold noodle its great for health someone told me that

    MTECH COMPUTER

  15. I think I could explain some of your curiosity
    Yes we do say, and eat hot food(not meaning spicy food)
    The reason why is because in summer we get more exhausted and tired,
    so nice, warm and healthy food with good herbal ingredients (good example is samgyetang)
    are supposed to give you the energy and stamina you need.
    and what you said is right too, because taking hot meal will make your inner body temp up
    so your body starts its own cooling down system
    if you eat cold food it will cool you down inside and your body will start to warm you up

    also eating egg first when you eat nangmyeon is controversial.
    some people believe so, some people dont
    what I heard is because we use vinegar(-acidic) so egg is suppose to protect your stomach from the acid from it

  16. now i feel like eating noodles!!! 

  17. 저는 한국인입니다. 여러분이 한국문화에 관심을 가져주셔서 정말 감사합니다^^.

  18. I remember Naengmyeon in the restaurant in Lotte Department Store, (8th or 9th floor?) Sogongdong downtown Seoul, was really good. Famous Kalbi BBQ restaurants are usually good for Naengmyeon, cause the broth is made with beef and bones. You should try Hyoe (회)Naengmyeon too, with spicy fish mixed with Bibim Naengmyeon. (better than it sounds, I bet.) I will have lots of them this August! I will be there in 10 days!!

  19. Byeonguk Yook

    You gulped the bibimnaengmyon without reaching for the water?? or did you cut that part out?

  20. The rule I follow re Naengmyeon (냉면) is to ONLY eat it at a restaurant that makes Naengmyeon (냉면) as their MAIN dish.  Do NOT try eating Naengmyeon (냉면) at a korean restaurant that sells it as one of their secondary dishes.  90% of the time you will be disappointed. 

    For such a simply looking dish, it’s actually hard to get it right.  I believe because the broth has to be good and hard to make for for small portion.

    If anyone happens to be in LA, CA, USA, go here.  http://www.yelp.com/biz/yu-chun-chic-naeng-myun-los-angeles-2
    They also sell good mandu.

    About Koreans eating hot food during hot summer to get cool, that idea is from the pre-AC days. 

    Imagine.  Weather is hot.  You eat hot food and you get hotter/warmer than the ambient temperature.  As your body temp goes down to get in equilibrium with the ambient temperature, your body will feel like it’s getting cooler.  Or so I heard from my parents when I was a kid.

  21. Hehe. You eat hot food in summer to replenish your health. It is mainly meat so it boosts your energy. Also you probably have been eating all those cold food, ice creams, ice, etc, so hot food really heat your stomach to make you not sick anymore. It’s been handed down for many generations so it is true a lot of people are confused of why you need to eat hot food, but it really is helpful to your body.

  22. Anonymous

    I love martina’s egg victory song…revenge is sweet, sweet like an egg ahaha. Your videos never fail to make me laugh! Nice topic and I am feeling hungry now even though I just ate breakfast >.<

  23. You guys are crazy !!
    haha. so funny!
     
    Next week, i’m gonna have Naengmyeon with my international friends in Korea.
    Naengmyeon is the best in a summer season ! ^^

  24. FOODIE FRIDAYS!! great idea, i totally agree! :D

  25. i agree you should totally have foodie fridays :9

  26. I’ll have to get used to that one!

  27. allaboutlibra

    Yeah, go for Foodie Fridays! :D

    I really like Naengmyon (Bibimnaengmyon is soooo good! :9), my whole family does!

    http://allaboutlibra.blogspot.com

  28. Anonymous

    If you guys ever end up doing a weekly friday segment, it should be called Foodie Fridays! 

  29. Is there anyway fro people over in the states and canada to make some of this? It looks really good, but I’m broke and can’t travel to Korea…

  30. I’m going to a Korean restaurant right now in fact. I”m gettin’ some of this stuff for lunch – no joke!

  31. My mouth is seriously watering like crazy right now.

  32. Anonymous

    I don’t eat meat so the Bibim naengmyeon looks good to me.

  33. 냉면 (naengmyeon) is originally from northern province of Korea.
    Originally, the cold noodles are served during the winter days.

  34. sil_clocks

    Yay! you guys covered my favorite summer dish:-)
    The hot-food-for-summer paradox is actually for your health, I think. In summer, you are prone to having lots of cold dishes and supposedly, constant intake of cold food affects your dygestive system in a bad way. So once in a while, you eat hot and nurishing food like Samgyetang so that your stomach won’t freez up from eating too much cold food. Well…I don’t know if it is scientificaly proven or anything. Just something my mum told me when I was young. Hope this helps!

  35. Sorry for wrong placed note, but reply button didn´t work :(
    Originally meant as response to Eleanna Nikol

  36. Under delicious I suppose you mean Simon and Martina :)

  37. Under delicious I suppose you mean Simon and Martina :)

  38. magggie cook

    What was the name of the place you went to? 

  39. Anonymous

    Lol actually I’m from Mexico and we also believe in eating hot food in the summer, especially in veracruz there is a custom of drinking really hot coffee in the middle of the afternoon, I also thought it was nuts buuuut you really should try that sometime

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