Mul Naengmyeon is the ultimate Korean summer dish! These noodles are served with a cold & icy broth that is savory, tangy, slightly sweet, and very refreshing.
“Mul” means water and “Naengmyeon” means cold noodles. It originated in North Korea. The noodles are made from buckwheat, arrowroot, and/or potato starch, and there are different kinds of Naengmyeon noodles that have different ratios of these ingredients.
The other key part to this dish is the ice cold broth. It’s a mixture of a lightly seasoned beef broth and Dongchimi brine, which is a non-spicy radish water kimchi. The brine is pickled, slightly sweet and soooo refreshing. Since people don’t normally just have Dongchimi made, most people just buy the pre-made naengmyeon packets that have the icy broth. These are fine, but tend to be way too sweet for my liking. Homemade is definitely better, and sometimes the only option for people that don’t have access to Korean goods.
Naengmyeon- I highly recommend getting chik-naengmyeon (칡 냉면). More on this below.
Beef broth- making a good beef broth for Naengmyeon is so easy- just dump all the ingredients into your instant pot and pressure cook it for 40 minutes. You need brisket, onion, garlic, Korean radish, green onion bulbs, black peppercorns, water, and most importantly, dasida. Dasida is Korean beef bouillon and it is 100% needed for this dish. It will not taste like Naengmyeon without it. I use this for many other things as well! It is a Korean pantry essential for sure.
Dongchimi brine- I posted my recipe for dongchimi a couple weeks ago. It’s the cold broth from radish water kimchi that is tangy, slightly sweet, and super refreshing. This needs to be mixed with the beef broth. The ratio really depends on your taste- for me, equal parts is good!
Toppings- sliced cucumbers, Korean pickled radish, crushed sesame seeds, hard boiled egg, and asian pear. I’ve seen some places also include sliced apples or watermelon instead of the asian pear. I know this sounds like a group of clashing ingredients but it’s honestly sooooo good together! All the right textures and flavors working together here.
Additional seasoning– in Korean culture there are some dishes that are seasoned at the table because everyone has different tastes, and this is one of those dishes. To the icy broth, add some soup soy sauce and sugar or plum syrup to your liking. I personally don’t like my Naengmyeon that sweet so I opt for the plum syrup since it has a more tangy, complex sweetness. But I find that most people actually like it really sweet. In that case use sugar.
It is also common to mix in Korean hot mustard paste and vinegar to your liking, but I never use the mustard paste because I do not enjoy that type of spice.
There are a few types of Naengmyeon noodles and if texture is a big deal to you, then these distinctions might be important.
The more popular Pyeongyang style Naengmyeon is made with buckwheat. These noodles aren’t as chewy and would probably suit the taste of most people. I like buckwheat noodles but for neangmyeon, these are not my favorite.
I like chik-naengmyeon (칡 냉면) the best for any type of naengmyeon dish. This type of noodle is chewier and darker than the more popular Pyeongyang style naengmyeon. Instead, this one is made with more arrowroot starch.
These noodles are chewy, and I mean really chewy! Sometimes it’s so chewy that its a bit difficult to cut through them with your teeth when you are slurping away. But, to me this is a good thing! That texture is key.
Dongchimi is a non-spicy water kimchi that is tangy, slightly sweet, and super refreshing.
A super important element to this dish is the brine. It’s SO delicious to drink, especially when it is icy cold. When I’m out drinking with friends at a Korean bar, it is very common to see this as anju (bar food), and I like to sip a spoonful of the brine as a chaser when I’m taking soju shots.
You can make several dishes out of this water kimchi! Dongchimi guksu is another popular cold noodle dish for the summer, and the traditional way to make naengmyeon is by using this brine. I posted my recipe for this a few weeks ago (click here), but you can also buy this from a Korean supermarket.
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- 4-5 oz naengmyeon noodles (per person) I recommend 칡 냉면 (chik naengmyeon)
- 1 lb brisket
- 1/4 lb Korean radish
- 1/2 small onion
- 4 green onion roots (white parts)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp dashida (beef bouillon)
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 4 cups water
- 2-4 cups dongchimi broth (link in instructions below)
- plum syrup or sugar to taste
- soup soy sauce or regular soy sauce to taste
- 1/2 lb Korean radish peeled & thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp gochugaru
- thinly sliced cucumber
- hard boiled egg
- crushed sesame seeds
- white vinegar
- yellow mustard paste optional- I don't add this
Make the beef broth:
- Soak the brisket in cold water for 30 minutes
- Put the brisket in a instant pot with the garlic, onion, green onion bulb, Korean radish, black peppercorns, and dashida. Pressure cook for 40 minutes.*If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can just boil for 1-2 hours on medium but you'll need to add water as needed.
- Strain the broth and throw away the strained parts
- Remove as much fat as you can for a nice clean broth. I used a fat separator.
Prepare the cold broth:
- You can make my dongchimi recipe here or buy it from an Asian supermarket.
- Add some of the dongchimi brine to the beef broth. The ratio will depend on your taste. I like equal parts, but just add it slowly and taste as you go. Keep in mind that there will be more seasoning added to this in the next step.Put this broth mixture into the freezer for a couple of hours to make it icy.
- After a couple hours the broth should be ice cold & slushy. At this point I season it with some soup soy sauce (regular is ok too) and a little plum syrup or sugar. If you don't like it sweet at all, you can skip the sugar but I find that most people prefer it a little sweet. I prefer the plum syrup since its more on the tangy side. The reason I wait until after it is icy is because anything that is frozen or ice cold will lose some flavor, so seasoning after it is already icy will give you the right flavor you're looking for.
Prepare the toppings:
- Cut the Korean radish as thin as you can- you should be able to see through it a little.
- Combine with gochugaru, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Set aside.
- Thinly slice the cucumber.
- Once the brisket has cooled, thinly slice against the grain.
- Use a mortar and pestle to grind down the sesame seeds.
- To hard boil an egg: bring a pot of water to a boil then add a splash of vinegar. Carefully drop the egg into the boiling water and set the timer for 12 minutes. Get an ice bath ready in the meantime. Immediately put the egg into the ice bath after boiling and let it sit for about a minute.
Cook the noodles:
- If you can find this brand, get it! This one was my favorite for texture and flavor. Boil the noodles for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Watch the noodles closely because they are very porous and will cook quickly.
- When the noodles are almost done, quickly drain and rinse under ice cold water. Remove as much starch as you can, but try not to keep them under water for too long because they are so porous that they will continue to get softer even in cold water.
- Build your bowl immediately- do not let naengmyeon noodles sit out too long because the texture will change. Top the noodles with the brisket, radish kimchi, cucumber, egg, & crushed sesame seeds. Pour in the icy broth & enjoy 🙂
- When you order this at a restaurant, you will be given a side of vinegar and Korean mustard paste to add to your broth if you like. I don't like Korean mustard paste so I never add it, but a splash of vinegar is nice!
- This makes enough broth for 4 servings