Types and characteristics of noodles
In Korean cuisine, there are various types of noodles that are highly valued for their unique characteristics and flavors. Buckwheat and soybean starch are commonly used as ingredients for noodles, and other auxiliary ingredients include sorghum, mugwort, pheasant, chicken, and eggs. The broths used for noodles can vary and include soybean paste soup, schisandra soup, sesame soup, pheasant soup, and chicken broth. The types of noodles can be categorized based on the combination of flour ingredients. Buckwheat noodles are made by mixing buckwheat flour and starch, starch noodles are made by mixing wheat flour and mung bean starch, and wheat noodles are made solely with wheat flour.
Dishes made with noodles can be further classified into dried noodles and saemul noodles, depending on the cooking method. Dried noodles are boiled and rinsed in water, and can be served with separately made soup as cold or warm noodles, or seasoned and eaten as mixed noodles. They have a chewy texture, and rinsing the boiled noodles in cold water removes the surface texture, resulting in a chewier texture. Types of dried noodles include cold noodles, mixed noodles, and hot noodles.
On the other hand, saemul noodles are eaten with the broth in which they were boiled. The soup is thick and contains the starch that came out during the boiling process. Wheat flour is primarily used for saemul noodles, and ingredients like soybean powder or eggs are added to the dough. A popular type of saemul noodle is kalguksu. Overall, Korean cuisine offers a wide variety of precious noodles with different flavors and textures, making them a beloved and versatile component of many dishes.
Types of Korean noodles by region
Korean cuisine is indeed known for its diverse regional variations, and this is particularly evident in the different types of noodles found across the country. Here are some examples of regional Korean noodle dishes that highlight this culinary diversity:
- Pyongyang-style Naengmyeon is a North Korean dish featuring thin and chewy buckwheat noodles served in a tangy and refreshing broth made from beef or kimchi. It is often garnished with cucumber, radish, and a slice of beef.
- Hamheung-style Naengmyeon, also from North Korea, uses thicker buckwheat noodles and a spicy sauce made from gochujang. It is typically served with beef or pork, along with cucumber and radish slices.
- Jinju Bibim Guksu is a dish from the southern city of Jinju. It consists of thin wheat noodles tossed in a spicy and tangy gochujang-based sauce. It is often mixed with various vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers, and topped with a boiled egg.
- Jeju Island’s Fish Noodles are made from fish paste and served in a flavorful seafood broth. There are also meat noodles topped with black pork, a local specialty.
- Andong Jjimdak Kalguksu combines kalguksu (knife-cut wheat noodles) with jjimdak, a soy-based braised chicken dish. The noodles are cooked in the flavorful sauce of the chicken, resulting in a hearty and rich noodle dish.
These examples showcase the regional diversity in Korean noodles, with each dish offering unique flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques. Exploring these regional noodle dishes allows one to experience the rich culinary heritage of Korea and appreciate the distinct flavors that each region brings to the table.
Ingredients for Korean Noodles
Korean noodle dishes are versatile and can be made with various ingredients. Some common ingredients used in Korean noodle dishes include:
- – Noodles: Korean noodles come in different types, such as wheat noodles, buckwheat noodles, and sweet potato noodles. Each type has its own unique texture and flavor.
- – Protein: Proteins like beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and tofu are commonly used in Korean noodle dishes. They can be stir-fried, grilled, or boiled before being added to the noodles.
- – Vegetables: Korean noodle dishes often include a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, mushrooms, spinach, bean sprouts, cabbage, onions, green onions, and bell peppers. These vegetables add freshness, crunch, and nutritional value to the dish.
- – Kimchi: Kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish, is a staple in Korean cuisine and is often served as a side dish or added to noodle dishes. It adds a spicy and tangy flavor to the noodles.
- – Broth/Sauce: Korean noodle dishes can be served with a broth or tossed in a sauce. Common sauces include gochujang sauce (spicy red pepper paste), soy sauce, and sesame oil sauce. These sauces add depth and flavor to the noodles.
These ingredients can be combined in different ways to create a wide variety of Korean noodle dishes, each with its own unique taste and characteristics.
The most famous Chinese noodle in Korea, Jjajangmyeon
Jjajangmyeon is a noodle dish that originated in China but has been thoroughly Koreanized. While debates may arise over its nationality, it is widely considered a Korean food. The Chinese version of Jjajangmyeon differs from the Korean version in terms of ingredients and taste.
In Chinese Jjajangmyeon, stir-fried soybean paste is added in a small amount to resemble raw soybean paste. Various raw vegetables like bean sprouts, shredded cucumbers, radishes, and cabbage are mixed in. The noodles are warmed to be almost lukewarm. The taste can be too salty for Koreans, and it varies depending on the region in China.
In Korea, Jjajangmyeon is typically made with a sweet chunjang sauce, which is a Korean adaptation of the Chinese soybean paste. Caramel is added to the sauce to make it sweeter and darker compared to the Chinese version. The noodles used in Korean Jjajangmyeon are typically thicker and chewier than the Chinese version. It is important to note that the Jjajangmyeon enjoyed in Korea is not commonly found in China. While Jjajangmyeon may have originated in China, the Korean adaptation has distinct differences in taste and ingredients, making it a unique and popular dish in Korean cuisine.