Korean jjolmyeon are chewy wheat noodles served chilled in a spicy, sweet and sour sauce with vegetables.
The word “jjolymyeon” literally translates to “chewy noodles” and refers to both the kind of noodles and this recipe. When you cook jjolymyeon they should be elastic and soft, but not tough or hard. Every brand of noodles is a bit different so I suggest you first cook the noodles for five minutes and take a sample to taste. If they’re soft and chewy with nothing hard inside, they’re well cooked. If not, cook them 1 or 2 minutes longer.
You can find jjolmyeon sold in the frozen section of a Korean grocery store. There are 2 types of packages: a jjolmyeon set that includes the noodles and the sauce, and a package that just has the noodles.
2 brands of jjolmyeon noodles, sold without broth
I prefer to buy the just the noodles and then make my own seasoning sauce at home, which is more delicious and cheaper. If you’re in a hurry you can get the set with the sauce, but I suggest that when you make jjolymyoen with the kit you dress it up with more seasonings and vegetables, as well as an egg and some toasted gim. And if you can’t find jjolmyeon noodles near you, you can replace them with any other noodles you have on hand, even spaghetti noodles!
Jjolymyeon is a regular dish in Korean snack bar restaurants called bunsikjip (분식집) that also usually serve inexpensive dishes that students love like gimbap, tteokbokki, and ramyeon. I like jjolmyeon but when it comes to cold noodles my favorite is still bibim-naengmyeon, where the noodles are thinner and darker. I also love kimchi-bibimguksu, where the noodles are not chewy at all and are mixed with kimchi and gochujang (hot pepper paste).
But chewy jjolmyeon, mixed with the spicy sauce, soybean sprouts, vegetables, and toasted gim has such a unique refreshing flavor and texture that it’s unforgettable and has a special place on my menu.
Try it out and make your summer more delightful! : )
- 1 pound of jjolmyeon noodles, thawed out in the fridge (substitute with any noodles you have)
- 12 ounces soybean sprouts
- 2 or 3 cabbage leaves, shredded thinly
- ¼ cups’ worth carrot, cut into matchsticks
- ½ of a seedless cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 1 sheet of dried seaweed paper (gim), toasted and shredded, kept fresh in a plastic bag
- 1 hard-boiled egg, cut in halves
- 1 green onion, chopped
- kosher salt
For the seasoning sauce:
- ⅓ cup hot pepper paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons white or apple vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons rice syrup (or corn syrup, or sugar)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Make the sauce and prepare the soybean sprouts
- Combine seasoning sauce ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
- Pick out any rotten soybean sprouts, then rinse and drain a few times in cold water.
- Put the soybean sprouts in a pot and add 2 cups water with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and boil for 12 minutes over medium heat.
- Put half of the sprouts in a large mixing bowl so they can cool down. What’s left in the pot will be served as a soup with the jjolmyeon, so keep it hot.
Cook the noodles
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add the noodles to the boiling water.
- Stir with a wooden spoon or tongs occasionally so that they don’t stick to each other. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat.
- Take a sample to see if the noodles are cooked properly. They should be chewy but soft. If they’re not soft enough, cook them for another 1 or 2 minutes.
- Strain and rinse the noodles in icy cold water. Rub the noodles with your hands in the cold water to remove any excess starch and to cool them down. Strain.
Mix and serve
- Add shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, and the seasoning sauce to the bowl with soy bean sprouts. Mix it with the wooden spoon.
- Add the noodles, toasted sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Gently mix it up by hand. You can add a few pieces of ice cubes to make them cold. You can wear a plastic glove, if you want. It will be cold!
- Divide into 2 portions and put them into 2 large shallow bowls. Add cucumber, shredded gim, and half an egg on top.
- Add salt and some chopped green onion to the soybean sprout soup to your taste. Serve with the jjolmyeon.