If you don’t eat meat or you want to try something different, then this traditional temple food recipe is a great option for you.
Naengmyeon is a Korean noodle dish with long, thin noodles made from the flour and starch of various ingredients, including buckwheat, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Other varieties of naengmyeon are made from ingredients such as seaweed and green tea.
Naengmyeon has been made since the Joseon Dynasty; it’s served in a large stainless-steel bowl with a tangy iced broth, julienned cucumbers, slices of Korean pear, thin, wide strips of lightly-pickled radish, and either a boiled egg or slices of cold, boiled beef or both. Spicy mustard sauce (or mustard oil) and vinegar are often added before consumption. Traditionally, the long noodles are eaten without cutting them, as they symbolize longevity of life and good health, but servers at restaurants usually ask if the noodles should be cut prior to eating, and use scissors to cut the noodles.
The two main varieties of naengmyeon are naengmyeon (물 냉면) and naengmyeon (비빔 냉면). The former is served as a cold soup with the noodles contained in a broth made from beef or chicken. The latter is served with a spicy dressing made primarily from gochujang (red paste) and eaten all mixed. In the case of bibim naengmyeon, a bowl of the soup broth used in mul naengmyeon or plain broth from the boiled noodles itself is often served on the side, albeit hot instead of cold in temperature.
The following recipe is a Buddhist take on the traditional recipe, which means that it is vegan but delicious enough for any palette.
Buddhists do not use any animal products except dairy. Korean Buddhism forbids meat and teaches that compassion means to embrace all living beings as oneself. The dietary culture of Korean Buddhism has always held reverence for life.
Korean temple food typically does not use 5 specific pungent vegetables, garlic, onion, leek, chives and green onions. Instead of these flavours they use what is available to them in the changing seasons; wild mushrooms, roots etc.
If you would like to learn more about temple food you can visit the Korean temple food website for more great information and a lot of delicious recipes.
- 4 servings of naengmyeon noodles
- 8 dried shitake mushrooms (If you can’t find shitake then normal mushrooms will work.)
- 2 Asian pears or normal pears.
- ½ Cucumber
- 5 Tablespoons Perilla oil or Sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons Korean red chilli powder
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- Dash of rice vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of roasted sesame seeds
- Mustard to taste
- Cooking oil
- Soak the shitake mushrooms in water until they are reconstituted and squeeze to remove excess water. If you are using standard mushrooms you won’t have to soak them first. Julienne the cucumber into matchstick sized pieces. Peel and grate the pear, and save the juice for later.
- Add oil to a heavy-bottomed pan. When the pan is heated, panfry the shitake mushroom until light golden brown.
- Once the shitake mushrooms are pan-fried, add the perilla oil and Korean red chilli powder. Reduce the heat to low to prevent burning or overcooking. Once the Korean red chili powder is well roasted and smelling toasty, add the soy sauce and continue to pan fry until all ingredients are cooked.
- In a bowl, toss the grated pear, pear juice, pan-fried mushrooms, salt, Asian mustard, vinegar and roasted sesame seeds.
- Cook the naengmyeon noodles to packet instructions and rinse in cold water until the water is clear. Drain and place the noodles in a bowl. Add the seasoned toppings from Step 4 and julienned cucumber to the naengmyeon noodles and serve.