Bibimguksu (bibim guksu 비빔국수) aka korean cold sweet and hot noodles are an easy and quick dish, that we eat around the year. Yes, yes! It’s very much a summer dish. But since these noodles are drenched in an addictive gochujang based sauce, they warm up the belly very nicely also during the cold months.
And when you throw in some hot, funky and sour kimchi, even more so! In fact, I think this is a perfect little pick me up, snack or lunch for the first week of gloomy November. Maybe one of you is in need of something warming and refreshing too? Then hop on over to the recipe, check out my kimchi noodles story … or keep on reading!
Bibim-guksu apparently means approximately “mixed noodles”, just like bibimbap means “mixed rice”. So: various ingredients, mixed with noodles! The equivalent in Finland would be pyttipannu. Pyttipannu is usually leftover potatoes, panfried with things such as sausage, onions and egg – or whatever you might have around. Just like pyttipannu, bibimguksu seems to be something you can serve with what you happen to have around too!
To me the key of this dish seems to be the sauce more than the add-ons. The main ingredient in the sauce is korean chili paste gochujang. This used to be difficult to get a hold on here, but hich nowadays it’s readily available in Finnish grocery stores! In addition to gochujang, the sauce has something sweet, as well as toasted sesame seeds and oil. Plus, a dash of vinegar and other seasonings. Very delicious!
… aka Kimchi noodles
In our house bibimguksu is usually made very minimally, since it’s something we usually eat when in a hurry. We really might just top off the noodles with shredded cucumber and a soft boiled egg. (I’ve understood that traditionally bibimguksu is served with a hard boiled egg, but I always need my yolk porn…) However, sometimes I add a load of other veggies in too! Carrots, cabbage, sugar snaps, bean sprouts… Whatever I happen to have a round. At this point, bibimguksu really starts to look like a noodle salad! 🙂 I sometimes add also tofu of tempeh, or a handful of peanuts. Or lots and lots of kimchi – which makes the dish into a kimchi bibimguksu!
In case kimchi, the korean fermented delicacy with a strong aroma (and scent!) isn’t familiar for you yet, here’s some tidbits about it:
- Kimchi is the national food of South Korea and an important part of the country’s life – past and present!
- The traditional kimchi making period kimjang was joined on the Unesco intangible cultural heritage list in 2013. In 2015 the list also included the tradition of kimchi making in North Korea.
- Kimjang takes place around October-November (aka at the time of writing this blog post!). This is when families and communities come together to make kimchi for the whole winter. All kinds of kimchis are however made year around, depending on the seasons and the seasonal ingredients available.
- Kimchi is often prepared from Napa cabbage and seasoned with gochugaru chili flakes, spring onions, ginger and garlic among other things. Baechu kimchi is likely the one people talk about, when mentioning just “kimchi” in general. There are however almost 200 different types of kimchi, made from for example cucumber, radish, mustard greens or perilla leaves.
- Kimchi often includes salted fermented (jeotgal) or fish sauce, so it’s not always suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
- Since kimchi is fermented, it has a lot of gut friendly probiotics! It also contains dietary fibers and vitamins A, B and C among other things.
- In Korea kimchi is eaten with rice, but also in soups, stews, pancakes, dumplings… and as a side dish (banchan) with pretty much every meal. Since kimchi has spread around the planet, you can also find it in burgers, on top of fries, on a pizza, and I personally have used it also as vinegraitte with green asparagus and blood orange salad (recipe link to a a post in Finnish) as well as blended to a vegan “mayonnaise” with tofu (link to a post in Finnish).
- If you are friends with sauerkraut and aren’t afraid of chili, I bet you’d love kimchi!
- In Korea people don’t say cheese when taking pictures, but kimchi of course!
Good old Wikipedia tells a lot about kimchi, but I highly recommed looking into for example the website of Maangchi, if you are curious about Korean ingredients and cuisine. That’s where I have gotten most of my knowledge, and I love watching her YouTube channel too! Being a Finnish home cook, I’m obviously not an expert on Korean cuisine, just a big fan!
The sources for this recipe are various – pretty much all Korean food blogs that I’m familiar with have a recipe for bibimguksu. Below you’ll find my preference and mainly used ratio of the different ingredients, but feel free to adjust all of them to your personal preference. I have a feeling that’s how it’s done in Korea too?
Korean cold kimchi noodles aka kimchi bibimguksu
- 180-200 g noodles (for example somen/somyeon or soba noodles)
- ¾-1 dl kimchi (vegan kimchi)
- 2 tbsp gochujang
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp raw sugar / honey / syrup (honey is not vegan)
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- ½ tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1-2 tsp soy sauce (optional)
- 1 garlic glove and/or a few cm of ginger (optional)
- 1-2 tsp gochugaru -chiliflakes (optional)
- 10 cm piece of cucumber
- 1-2 eggs (leave the egg out if making this vegan!)
- 1-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1-2 handfuls carrot, (red) cabbage, bean sprouts, sugar snap peas, tomato, radish... (a selection based on your taste & amount of hunger, optional)
- 100-150 g (cold smoked) firm tofu (+ a few tbsp oil for frying, optional)
- I use all kinds of sweeteners in the sauce - usually agave syrup or raw coconut sugar, sometimes honey. Sometimes I add some freshly grated garlic or ginger to the sauce, and a bit of soy sauce.
- Instead of rice wine vinegar I sometimes use shiso infused vinegar (recipe here!) or apple cider vinegar - depending what I got!
- Although gochujang is hot already, you can add an extra kick of heat to the sauce with additional gochugaru flakes.
- If hot sauce isn't your thing, you can use this recipe with a soy sauce dressing and make ganjang bibimguksu! You'll need about 3 tbsp soy sauce (preferably korean ganjang), 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 2 tbsp sugar/syrup/honey, 1-2 tbsp rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil to taste. Adjust the quantities to your preference and throw in some grated garlic/ginger if you like!
- Both sauces can be pre-made and stored in the fridge!
- Boil the eggs (6-10 minutes depending on your preference). Cool the eggs. Shred the cucumber and chop/shred all the other veggies you're using. If you're using tofu, cube up and fry (I don't always bother frying tofu but it's totally up to you!).
- Toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes on a dry frying pan unless using pre toasted seeds. Chop up the kimchi and make sure to save all the juices that accumulate.
- Mix the ingredients of the sauce together. Season to taste with freshly grated garlic and/or ginger, soy sauce and a bit of gochugaru for an extra kick of heat, if you are so inclined. Peel and half the eggs.
- Boil the noodles according to the package instructions. Make sure to not overcook them! Quickly rinse and cool off under running cold water, drain well.
- Mix the noodles with the sauce. I use my hands; you may wish to use plastic gloves or thongs. Divide the noodles in two bowls and top off with the chopped kimchi, drizzling the kimchi juices in to the bowls as well.
- Add the other garnishes: halved boiled eggs, shredded cucumber and other veg. Garnish the bowls with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately!