These cold, spicy noodles served on a large platter, called jaengban-guksu, were a really trendy in Korea when my children were young. They were all over the media and my friends and I all made them for our families. When developing this recipe I asked my daughter if she remembered me making this for her when she was young. She said: “Of course!”
Of course she remembered because these noodles are not only delicious and refreshing but also fun to eat. They are served to the table on a large shallow platter or tray and everyone takes their own portion from it, which makes for an instant festive mood as everyone eats together and shares with each other.
The light sauce drizzled over top is made from garlic, ginger, and vinegar, sweetened with pear and is just a little spicy. Mixed with the noodles, vegetables, and egg slices and served ice cold, all my family loved this recipe. It had been a while since I made it, I figured this was a good time to introduce it to my readers and viewers, just in time for the warm weather!
Jaengban-guksu is made to be shared and eaten all at once with no leftovers, so make these noodles soon and enjoy them with your friends and family. They are easy to make and are perfect for a summertime weekday dinner.
Serves 2 to 3
8 ounces thin buckwheat noodles (or somyeon)
2 hard boiled eggs, shelled and cut into quarters lengthwise
3 cups of clean fresh lettuce, torn into bite size pieces (or mixed greens)
1 small tomato, cut into 8 pieces lengthwise
½ cup worth cucumber matchsticks
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
8 ice cubes
for the sauce:
1 large Korean pear, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
¼ medium onion, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons peeled ginger
¼ cup hot pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons hot pepper paste
2 tablespoons white (or apple) vinegar
Make the seasoning sauce:
Blend the pear, ginger and onion in a food process to make a purée.
Place a large cotton cloth over a medium-sized bowl and pour the purée in the middle. Gather the edges of the cloth and squeeze the purée through so the clear juice goes collects in the bowl. Discard the pulp and take 1 cup of the juice. If there’s less than 1 cup, add cold water to make up the difference.
Pour the juice back into the bowl. Add hot pepper flakes, garlic, soy sauce, salt, hot pepper paste, and vinegar. Mix it well until there are no lumps at all. Set aside at least 20 minutes up to overnight to give the hot pepper flakes time to soak nicely.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium high heat.
Add the noodles, stirring with a wooden spoon a few times to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Partially cover and cook for 3 minutes until the noodles are well cooked a little chewy but not hard. Take a sample to taste.
Transfer the noodles to a large strainer in the kitchen sink. Rinse the noodles under cold running water to remove excess starch and to make them cold.
Drain the noodles well and transfer them to a large platter. Spread the noodles all over the platter.
Add the ice cubes to the seasoning sauce and mix well to make it cold.
Put the lettuce (or mixed greens) over the noodles and drizzle the cold seasoning sauce including the ice cubes. Add cucumber, tomato, and drizzle the sesame oil and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Add the eggs and serve right away.
Mix and serve:
Mix everything together on the platter with tongs or chopsticks, and serve each diner some of the noodles on a small plate. Eat all the noodles in one sitting.