Enjoy the lingering heat, and the umami, sweet, and salty flavors in this healthy and approachable main dish salad… Naengmyeon or soba noodles, fresh vegetables, and your choice of proteins are lightly tossed with a Gochujang (Korean red chile paste) and rice vinegar dressing. Korean-Style Buckwheat Noodle Salad can be on your table in 30 minutes!
I love Asian noodles, and of all the many varieties, buckwheat noodles are my favorite. Naengmyeon noodles (Korean) and soba (Japanese) may be used interchangeably in this recipe. I have also made this dish with Korean dangmyeon (sweet potato starch) noodles successfully. My husband is not a huge fan of dangmyeon noodles with their slippery, rubbery texture. He also feels they are less substantial in this dish, and as it is a main dish salad, it must have substance. 😉
While many people (maybe most) think buckwheat is a cereal grain, it is actually a seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. It is naturally gluten-free, high in many important nutrients, and fiber rich. If you’re not including buckwheat in your diet, I highly recommend it!
The foundation for this dish is the combination of its flavorful dressing and the noodles. Your protein choice is up to you. I have included in the recipe a simple marinated shrimp, but the marinade would work on chicken, tempeh, etc. Vary the veggies according to seasonal, fresh options. When I made Korean-Style Buckwheat Noodle Salad for photos, I used crisp red bell pepper, baby English cucumbers, and green onions. Sugar snap peas, mung bean sprouts, snow peas, summer squash (zucchini, crookneck, pattypan) are all great choices as well. I julienned the baby cucumbers, and purchased matchstick carrots (great time saver!). A traditional cold Korean buckwheat noodle salad would more than likely include an egg. Being an egg lover, I paid homage to that tradition and include one in my not-so-traditional version. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you are aware that I do not attempt to recreate authentic, traditional dishes. Rather, I use my well-stocked pantry and my knowledge of flavor profiles to create new (and tasty) dishes.
My work flow goes something like this: Whisk together the marinade, peel the shrimp and add to the marinade, put the water on to boil for the noodles, cook the eggs, prep the veggies, process the dressing, cook the noodles and drain, toss the salad ingredients together with the dressing, then grill the shrimp. Garnish this lovely salad with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Depending on the amount of time required to cook your protein, and the types of vegetables you select, you can have this dish ready in about 30 to 40 minutes. The leftover salad holds up well for lunch the next day…
We enjoyed this main dish salad with a crisp, un-oaked chardonnay. It would also pair well with a saison or citrusy IPA. Whatever your choice of beverage might be, Korean-Style Buckwheat Noodle Salad is sure to please!
Shrimp *See Notes*
- 2 teaspoons gochujang
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and de-veined see notes
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (+/- according to preference)
- 2 tablespoons ketchup see notes
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon ponzu, tamari, or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (I like citrus rice vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 8 ounces Japanese or Korean buckwheat noodles see notes
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- 1 cup matchstick carrots
- 3 scallions, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
- toasted sesame seeds for garnish
- 4 hard-cooked eggs (optional), halved lengthwise
- Whisk together marinade ingredients.
- Add prepared shrimp see notes to the marinade while salad is prepared.
- Put large pot of water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook according to package instructions. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Rinse, drain, and toss with a drizzle of sesame oil, then set aside.
- While noodles cook, grill the shrimp over a hot grill. This requires only 1 to 2 minutes per side depending on the heat level of your grill!
- Toss the prepared veggies and noodles with the dressing. Top with the grilled shrimp (or other protein), and garnish with remaining scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and egg.
Shrimp is wonderful in this salad, but you can substitute grilled tempeh, firm tofu, chicken breast, etc. Shrimp benefits from a few minutes in the marinade. Chicken would require 1 to 2 hours ahead of time to absorb much flavor. Tempeh and tofu drink it up pretty quickly.
I'm not a fan of "regular" ketchup due to its sugar content, additives, and preservatives. I do make my own, and keep a bottle of gochujang ketchup from the local Asian market in my refrigerator. Use the ketchup you prefer.
As mentioned in the post, you can substitute other noodles. Remember to follow package instructions for cooking time, and don't overcook them!
Macro Nutrients (approximate from MyFitnessPal): 395 calories, 42 g protein; 45 g carbohydrates; 14 g fat.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276 Total Fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 56g Protein: 12g