Korean Spicy Cold Noodles (Bibim Guksu)

I can feel that my cooking and baking days will be “over” as the hot weather creeps in.  Well, I will still be cooking, but it’ll be just very simple dishes (most of my “must try” recipes will have to wait until the Fall – boohoo!!). 

I guess it won’t be such a big deal if I lived in a house with a central air.  My house, as nice as it is (3 floors with a finished basement) unfortunately is 100 plus years old.  That means we don’t want to spend extra money to install central air, thus we have wall unit air cons all throughout the house.  This means that the house or even the 1st floor isn’t even cooled, which most of the time leaves kitchen the hottest place in our house…

Anyway, whenever hot weather makes its way, I crave for Bibim Guksu, traditional Korean Summertime noodle dish. Bibim literally means “to mix”, so this noodle dish is presented with different toppings arranged on top of the noodle (mixed with the sauce), and you have to mix them all together.   It’s rather spicy (which I love) and it hits the spot when I’m suffering from this hot and humid weather!  Different families have their version of this recipe, but this is how I learned it from my mom.  Also, with many of the Korean or Japanese dishes I make I usually don’t use measurements.  All these measurements are approximates, alter to suit your own taste!

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** Bibim Guksu uses soba noodles or other flour/rice based thin noodles;  however, there also is Bibim NaengMyun, which basically uses the same sauce ingredients, except for the noodle – it uses buckwheat noodles (these are the clear and chewy noodles). 

Makes about 4:

500 grams or 5 bundles of soba noodles
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(Usually most soba will come bundled individually.  Each bundle equals approximately 1 serving).

Toppings:
4 medium to large leaves of red leaf lettuce
4-6 perilla leaves
2 Kirby cucumbers
2 boiled eggs
1 cup ripe kimchi

* Thinly slice lettuce leaves, perilla leaves, cucumbers and kimchi
**Kimchi needs to be “ripe”, but not overly ripe. 
***Perilla leaves are sesame leaf variety.  You can use sesame leaf or the Japanese variety called “Shiso”.  Any of these leaves will add a very clean aromatic taste to this dish.
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(These are the perilla plant growing in my yard).

Sauce:
1/4 cup Kochujang (Korean hot bean paste)
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2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1-2 Tablespoons granulated sugar or honey
1-1/2 Tablespoons Japanese/Korean sesame oil
2 Tablespoons roasted sesame seeds

Make the sauce: Mix all the sauce ingredients in a large stainless bowl and set aside.

Toppings: Chop everything and set aside.  Also, slice the eggs into halves.

Noodles: Bring water to a boil in a 5 quart pot.  One by one put the soba bundles in and mix them so that they don’t stick together.   Have 1 cup cold water on the side.  When the water/noodle boils add 1/2 cup of cold water and mix.  Let it boil again and add the remaining 1/2 cup of cold water.  When it boils for the 3rd time, turn off the heat and strain the noodles in the colander and rinse with cold water.  Drain and set aside. **This is the method I learned on how to cook thin noodles in Japan.  It guarantees that the noodles aren’t overcooked this way. 

Combine: Add the noodles in the sauce bowl and with a plastic glove thoroughly mix well.   Place enough noodles in a serving bowl and arrange the toppings.  When ready to eat just mix them all up. 

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