Sunday, July 18, 2010

Korean Cold Beef Arrowroot Noodle Soup, Mool Naeng Myun (칡냉면) & A Surprise Pairing

You're probably wondering why my blog posts aren't a slew of Korean recipes since my blog title is Korean American Mommy. Well, growing up eating primarily Korean foods has had its toll on me. I only crave certain Korean dishes and prefer to eat other types of cuisine on a daily basis. My paternal grandmother is an excellent cook and the main Chef when we owned Korean restaurants. My mom is also a great cook and I think growing up and having Korean food readily available has spoiled me. I never had to cook or I chose not to cook. Eating out was easier. It wasn't until after the birth of my son, I realized that I was developing an obsession for cooking and baking. In the past, it just seemed like work. But its a totally different story now. I really enjoy cooking & baking for my family. And tonight I had a craving for Mool Naeng Myun. And the best part about being the main cook in our house, is that I get to decide what to cook, muahahahaha...

Mool Naeng Myun is a popular cold Korean beef broth soup generally served with buckwheat noodles, sliced beef brisket, julienned cucumber, pickled Korean radish, slices of asian pear and a half of a hard boiled egg. However, in this recipe I decided to use arrowroot noodles. My first experience with arrowroot noodles dates back to the late 90's. 1999 to be exact. My mother and I went to Korea that year and the new and popular Naeng Myun noodle was not buckwheat but arrowroot. Arrowroot is used in Chinese medicine and is also used as a thickener.

I've never made a homemade Mool Naeng Myun before. And the most important element of a good Mool Naeng Myun is the beef broth. If the beef broth is not right, then you're pretty much out of luck. So I did a little research. And it made it a little easier knowing what good Mool Naeng Myun tastes like. Or at least what I like in a Mool Naeng Myun. Initially, I asked my mom and she gave me the ingredients but not the measurements. Yep, thats how most Korean moms are. They never measure! So here I was left to pretty much figure out the measurements on my own. And this is what I came up with after talking with the moms and with my modifications. 

2-1/4 lbs Grass Fed Beef Brisket from Wholefoods
2 lbs Beef Marrow Bones
4 Slices of Ginger (cut 1/4 inch thick)
14 Whole Black Peppercorn
13 Cups of Water
4 tbsp Rice Vinegar (add to broth after its been chilled)
1 tbsp Salt (add to broth after its been chilled)
1 tbsp Sugar (add to broth after its been chilled)
Korean Hot Mustard to Taste (연겨자) optional (this adds a nice kick and flavor and I highly recommend it, it just doesn't taste the same without the mustard)
Korean Concentrated Vinegar (강초) add to taste (I like mine on the sour side, taste as you go)
1 Asian Pear (peeled, cored and sliced thin)
1 Cucumber (slice into thin strips)
4 Hard Boiled Eggs (cut in half)

1. Wash the beef brisket and beef marrow bones then place in large pot. Add the water, peppercorns and ginger and bring to boil on high heat.

2. Lower heat to medium/low and allow to simmer for about 2.5 hours.

3. Remove beef brisket and bone marrow bones. Refrigerate the beef brisket and do what you please with the bone marrow. I give it to my dog.

4. Strain the beef broth through a fine mesh strainer and refrigerate until the broth cools down a bit. Then place it in the freezer to allow the fat to solidify.

5. Once you see the white film of fat solidify on the top of the broth (about an hour or two), scoop the fat out and discard. Then place the broth back into the refrigerator or freezer to chill. It should look like the photo below.

Its amazing how much fat solidified in this soup. I mean look at it, ick! Place the broth back into the refrigerator or freezer and prepare the arrowroot noodles. Bring 5-6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot and add one package of arrowroot noodle for about 3 minutes. Check for a chewy consistency, rinse in cold water and place noodles in an ice bath, drain and set aside. Take the beef brisket out of the fridge and thinly slice it. The brisket was very tender and it literally melted in your mouth.

Finally! Time to assemble the Mool Naeng Myun. By the way, literally translated, Mool Naeng Myun means Water Cold Noodle. Thought I'd share that with you. Divide up the noodles and place in large bowls. Top with the beef brisket, sliced cucumber, asian pear slices, half of the hard boiled egg and add the beef broth about 3/4 full. Add a little squeeze of the Korean Hot Mustard (about 4-6 pea sized amounts and add more to your liking), and a splash or two of the Korean Concentrated Vinegar. Now, get ready to cool down with an authentic Korean Mool Naeng Myun! The hot pink bowl is for Christopher. I know, hot pink for a boy? Whatever, it was the first bowl I grabbed and he didn't know the difference.

Now I must say, Mool Naeng Myun just isn't the same without some Grilled Korean Beef Short Ribs, Kalbi. So, to fulfill my craving, I had to enjoy my Mool Naeng Myun the RIGHT way. So, I did. And below is the recipe for the Grilled Korean Short Ribs. I recommend marinating the short ribs first for the best flavor. It can also be done the night before. 

1-1/4 lbs Grass Fed Beef Short Ribs from Wholefoods (soak in cold water for an  hour)
1/2 Minced Onion
2 tbsp Minced Garlic
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1/8 Cup Korean Corn Syrup (물엿)
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tbsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Now that's how you eat a Korean Mool Naeng Myun. With Grilled Korean Short Ribs! Great for a hot summer day or any day for that matter. This recipe is a KEEPER! Enjoy.

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16 Reactions to this post

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  1. Sooki said... July 19, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    i am salivating! mool neng myun has to be my all time favorite noodle dish. i can eat this stuff year round (even in the frigid winters in spokane!). it's good stuff!

  2. Sofia said... July 19, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    This post resonates with me so much. I grew up on the best Indonesian cuisine. We didnt own restaurants, but my mother was well known for her cooking and became the personal chef for the Ambassador of Singapore for a few years.

    Needless to say, I was also spoiled and never felt the need to learn, which I completely regret now. When I started a family and had to cook, I also craved other cuisines, to the point where whenever we did have Indonesian food, it was my husband that cooked it! And he is French!

    When I finally felt that internal nudge to learn from my mother, it was the same thing - list of ingredients but no measurements!!! That works well for those who are naturals in the kitchen (like my mother & husband) but for the rest of us, not so much. I try to tell her "this much" isnt a measurement! :)

    Sofia's Ideas

  3. ~Lisa~ said... July 19, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    @ Sooki, this is true, because I can eat Pho year round, hehe it must be an asian thing? The naeng myun & kalbi was gooood.

    @ Sofia, you must be a fantastic cook if you grew up eating your mothers food. If you know the taste then its easier to cook. Oh and glad you're getting more sleep (=

  4. Sofia said... July 19, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    Thanks, Lisa! :)

    Unfortunately, me, not such a good cook! I don't enjoy being in the kitchen, to me its a chore, and I get frazzled very easily. My husband & oldest son, however, are both quite at ease in the kitchen. They are both foodies who view cooking as an art form. Its beautiful to watch them create, as I'm sure it is for your family to watch you. :)

  5. Hyosun Ro said... July 19, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    I love naeng myun, and this looks so good!

  6. ~Lisa~ said... August 6, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    Thanks Sofia & Hyosun!

  7. Cathy said... August 26, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    Just wondering, where can I find Korean Arrowroot Noodles in the USA? I have multiple food sensitivities so most pasta doesn't work for me, but I can tolerate arrowroot just fine. Are the noodles 100% pure arrowroot, or do they also contain another kind of flour also. Thanks!

  8. ~Lisa~ said... August 30, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    @ Cathy, yes you can buy it at your local Asian market. Preferably korean market. I'm not sure if the noodles have other flour but the next time I go to the market I will find out. I used up the last package. I'll get back to you! (=

  9. Cathy B. said... August 31, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    Thanks for checking on that for me, Lisa. Also, perhaps you could let me know the brand name when you let me know about the flour? I live in the boondocks of Maine - no Asian markets around here. Maybe I could order them online somewhere. Otherwise, next time I am traveling, I can stop at an Asian market when I get to "civilization". :-)

    Thanks again!

  10. ~Lisa~ said... August 31, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Will do Cathy! And not a problem (=

  11. Amy K. said... September 3, 2010 at 10:13 PM

    Yes, getting measurements is always frustrating, but as my mom says, you just have to taste! it's only logical, right??? :-)

    for some reason, i never acquired the taste for mool naeng myun (i know, blasephemy), but i love bibim naeng myun.

    great photos and the kalbi looks excellent!

  12. ~Lisa~ said... September 5, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    @ Amy, yes tasting does it but its the initial broth making that I was concerned with. I wanted the right amount of ginger and pepper etc. and you can't taste that until its done. Mool naeng myun is a bit of an acquired taste so I totally understand. I love bibim naeng myun too (the spicy, sweet and tangy goodness) and plan on making it when soon. So please stop by again! Thanks!

  13. Anonymous said... December 8, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    오마이갓. 완전 맛있어 보여요~! 배고파 헐~ ㅜㅜ!

  14. ~Lisa~ said... December 15, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    @ Anonymous, hehe I love that you wrote OMG in Korean. And it is quite tasty.probably more tasty than it looks (=

  15. Kate said... June 11, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    Thanks for sharing this great recipe! I made it over the weekend and it was really yummy. I loved the fresh, clean flavors and can't wait to make it again--next time with kalbi!

  16. Unknown said... June 24, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    How much broth does this make?