Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ojingeochae Naengmyeon








     Chilled Korean Buckwheat Noodles with Spicy Sweet Korean Pear Red Chile Pepper Sauce and Shredded Dried Vinegar Cuttlefish!
     The first time that I had Naengmyeon was at the DJK Korean BBQ and Tofu Restaurant in Las Vegas.  I ordered the plain version, but they also had Hoe Naengmyeon on the menu.  Hoe translates to to thin sliced raw skate.  This style of chilled red chile pear sauce sauce Naengmyeon can be topped off with a variety of proteins, tofu or vegetables.  
     I purchased a package of fresh Korean Buckwheat Noodles in Korea Town, Las Vegas.  Naengmyeon are a little different than Soba or Chinese Buckwheat Vermicelli.  The color is darker and the length of the noodles are much longer.  At a Korean restaurant, a waitress offers to cut the long noodles with scissors at the table, so they are a little bit more manageable.      
     Korean Pears are the same thing as Asian Pears.  Korean pears have a light sweet pear flavor that is very refreshing.
     There is no tomato in the red color sauce!  The red color comes from mild red chile peppers.  Red jalapeño and red serrano pepper are the two best choices for making this sauce.  If you want a very mild spicy heat, then remove most of the seeds and pulp from inside the peppers.  If you like a spicier sauce, then leave the seed and pulp in the peppers.
     Sriracha is made out of slightly sweetened garlic and red seranno peppers.  Sriracha is convenient and many Korean chefs use this product to make red chile pear sauce for chilled Naengmyeon. 
     There is a trick to making the spicy sauce for naengmyeon.  The light colored ingredients should be pureed separately from the red colored ingredients, then the two purees are combined.  This way the sauce will not become a light orange color.  Also be careful not to aerate the red chile puree, or it will become an orange color.  The sauce becomes a deeper red color after Korean red chile powder is added to the sauce.

     Ojingeochae are Shredded Dried Squid or Shredded Dried Cuttlefish that is flavored with vinegar and salt.  Ojingeochae is usually consumed by those who go out for a night of drinking alcoholic beverages in Korea.  Dried squid or dried cuttlefish contains zero fat and this healthy high protein snack really tastes pretty good!  There is no fishy flavor or aroma.  For today's recipe, the Ojingeochae is marinated in the spicy sweet sauce for a few minutes, so it becomes tender.

     Spicy Sweet Korean Pear Red Chile Pepper Sauce For Naengmyeon:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 2 to 3 servings! 
     Step 1:  Place 1 chopped peeled and seeded Korean Pear (Asian Pear) in a container.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Korean Mustard or dijon mustard.
     Add 6 chopped garlic cloves.
     Add 3 tablespoons of small chopped onion.
     Step 2:  Puree the ingredients with an electric blending wand or in a food processor.
     Set the light colored puree aside.
     Step 3:  Heat 3 cups of water over high heat.
     Cut the stem end off of 12 to 14 red jalapeño peppers.
     Blanch the trimmed pepper in the boiling water for 1 minute.
     Drain the hot water off of the peppers and cool the peppers under cold running water.
     Step 4:  Split the peppers in half.
     *Scrape the seeds and pulp out of the peppers, if you prefer a mildly spicy sauce.  Leave the seeds and pulp attached if you want an extra spicy hot flavored sauce!
     Coarsely chop the blanched peppers and place them in a container.
     Step 5:  Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
     Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of honey.  (The amount of sweetness is a personal choice!)
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Puree the ingredients with an electric blending wand or a food processor.
     Step 6:  Combine the light colored puree with the red colored puree.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Korean red chile powder.  (Chinese chile powder can be substituted.)
     Add 1 tablespoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Place the sauce in a refrigerator, till it is chilled and the flavors meld.

     Korean Buckwheat Noodles Naengmyeon:
     Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1 portion of fresh Korean buckwheat noodles.
     Stir the noodles occasionally, till they are fully cooked.
     Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Shock the hot noodles in a container of ice water.
     Stir the noodles by hand, till they feel like they have gained a firm chewy texture.
     Drain the ice water off of the noodles and set them aside.

     Ojingeochae Naengmyeon:  
     Step 1:  Place about 3/4 cup of Ojingeochae in a mixing bowl.
     A enough of the chilled spicy sweet Korean pear red chile pepper sauce to coat the dried cuttlefish strips.
     Let the the Ojingeochae marinate for a few minutes.
     Step 2:  Place the cold buckwheat noodles in a mixing bowl.
     Add enough of the chilled spicy sweet Korean red chile pepper pear sauce to coat the noodles.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Use a long tine carving fork or chop sticks to twist the noodles so they look nice and place them in a large noodle bowl.
     Place the sauced Ojingeochae on top of the Naengmyeon in the bowl.
     Garnish the Ojingeochae Naengmyeon with bias sliced green onion.

     One taste and you will be hooked! 

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