As you might have guessed by the fact that I’m making Canadian Doenjang, our monthly YouTube Korean cooking show; I love to cook. I always have. And I’m always on the lookout for new recipes, as well as modifying or creating my own. In fact, when I travel I always take a small recipe notebook so I can add any new recipes I learn. I’ve also been known to randomly ask people for recipes if I eat something that’s particularly delicious. Thankfully most people are happy to share their recipes.
Why am I telling you this?
It’s simple, I first learned how to make bibim guksu (비빔 국수, a cold mixed noodle dish) because I ate my friend Gia’s mom’s version and fell in love with it. Gia’s mom had come to visit her when she was living in Toronto and she had a summer backyard BBQ so her mom could meet some of her friends. And one of the dishes served was bibim guksu. After going back for seconds and telling them how much I loved it, I asked for the recipe. She was quite happy to give it to me, although a little worried about if I could read it. Once I reassured her I could read Korean, she gave me a little slip of paper with the recipe on it.
I quickly learned two things. First, while I can slowly read Korean, I can’t read Korean handwriting. Gia had to copy in out in Korean printing (so the characters looked more like I was familiar with in books).
The other thing I learned was recipes written in Korean are in a different format than Western cookbooks and recipes.
How are the recipes different?
We’re used to seeing a title, brief description or note, list of ingredients, and directions. It’s how I write the Canadian Doenjang recipes. Her recipe – and I’ve since learned this is common with Korean recipes – was just a title and directions. Of course, the ingredients were all mentioned in the directions but the quantities weren’t, at least not as precisely as I was used to. Plus you had to read the directions to find all of the ingredients.
Because of that, her bibim guksu was more than a simple recipe of one of my favourite Korean summer dishes for me. It was also a fabulous learning experience. I make it several times a summer, as it’s always requested by my friends when we have a picnic or go camping. For me though, it’s more than just a favourite summer recipe, it’s a dish that I’ll always associate with a happy summer memory.
Bibim guksu is a super quick dish. In fact, you will spend more time cutting the veggies and fruit than you will putting everything together.
- 1 small pkg or large handful of maemil guksu noodles (메밀국수, thin buckwheat noodles)
- 1 apple, cored and julienned
- 1 Korean pear, peeled, cored and julienned
- 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and julienned
- 1/2 cup red leaf lettuce (optional), sliced finely
- 2 carrot (optional), peeled and julienned
- 3 tbsp gochujang (고추장, spicy red pepper paste)
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
- Shredded kim (김, shredded laver)
- 1/2 hard-boiled egg
1. Mix sauce ingredients (gochujang, honey, rice vinegar, soy sauce) in a glass or stainless steel bowl and set aside.
2. Julienne all veggies and fruit.
3. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add noodles and cook for about 4-5 minutes (or according to the directions on the package), stirring at the start to separate the noodles. Immediately drain using a strainer and rinse under cold water for several minutes until the noodles are cold.
4. Add rinsed and cooled noodles to a large serving bowl and pour sauce over top. Mix well (it’s easiest to use your hands, I usually do but didn’t in the video simply because I was on camera). Add julienned veggies and fruit. Mix well again. ^^
5. Refrigerate or serve immediately.
6. Drizzle sesame oil over just before serving and sprinkle with sesame seeds and shredded laver.
Tip #1: You can make it in advance but if you aren’t serving it immediately, don’t add the lettuce (which is optional anyway) or shredded laver until just before you serve it.
Tip #2: The type of noodles is really what sets this dish apart. If you don’t have a Korean grocery store near you or can’t find maemil guksu noodles, soba noodles will also work. Don’t use naengmyeon (냉면) noodles as they will be too chewy.