Chilled Buckwheat Noodles with Korean Pear and Red Chile Sauce with Pickled Mackerel!
The red color of the sauce does not come from tomatoes. It comes from mild red chile peppers! Chile peppers and fruit are a classic Native American flavor combination. After the colombian exchange, chile peppers became a big part of Korean cuisine. It did not take Korean chefs much time to figure out that Korean Pears taste great with mild red chile peppers. The chilled Korean Pear and red chile pepper sauce (gochujang) buckwheat noodle dish was an instant classic!
Hoe Naengmyeon is chilled buckwheat noodles and marinated fish tossed with Korean Pear & Gochujang Sauce. The Gochujang red chile sauce can be mild or moderately spicy hot. The marinated fish choice is usually skate, but dried pickled squid is another popular choice. Many food historians say that Japanese Shime Saba has its origins in Korea, so it too is a good choice for making Hoe Naengmyeon.
Shime Saba is made with a few varieties of mackerel. For those who have never caught wild mackerel and eaten the mackerel in the same day, it is hard to describe how good fresh mackerel tastes. After mackerel sits for 12 hours or more on ice, the color of the meat becomes opaque and the meat becomes oily. Mackerel spoils quickly. Mackerel also travel through tropical waters, so parasitic pathogens render mackerel unsafe to be served raw.
Shime Saba is the name for mackerel that are lightly pickled the same day they are caught. Shime Saba actually looks like fresh caught mackerel! Fresh mackerel are heavily salted for a while, then the salt is rinsed off with sweet rice vinegar. This process produces a nice clean fresh pickled mackerel flavor and it makes mackerel safe to be served as sushi.
Spicy Sweet Korean Pear Red Chile Pepper Sauce For Hoe Naengmyeon:
This recipe yields enough sauce for 2 to 3 servings!
Red jalapeño peppers produce a mild spicy heat. For a spicier sauce, use red Fresno Peppers or Red Serrano Peppers.
Sticky rice can be added to the sauce to make it thicker, but this is not really necessary for a fresh puree sauce.
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 to 8 chopped garlic cloves.
Add 3 tablespoons of small chopped onion.
Puree the ingredients with an electric blending wand or with a food processor.
Set the light colored puree aside.
Step 2: Heat 3 cups of water over high heat.
Cut the stem end off of 12 to 14 mild red jalapeño peppers.
Blanch the trimmed peppers in the boiling water for 1 minute.
Drain the hot water off of the peppers.
Cool the peppers under cold running water.
Step 3: Split the peppers in half.
*Scrape most of the seeds and pulp out of the peppers, if you prefer a mild sauce. Leave the seeds and pulp attached if you want a spicy flavored sauce!
Coarsely chop the blanched peppers and place them in a container.
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 pureeing wand or a food processor.
Step 4: 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 or 2 teaspoons of Korean red chile powder. (To taste. Chinese chile powder can be substituted.)
Add 1 tablespoon of Spanish Paprika.
Step 5: Mix the ingredients together.
Chill the sauce in a refrigerator for 1 hour so the flavors meld.
Korean Buckwheat Noodles:
Boil a pot of water over high heat.
Add 1 portion of fresh Korean style buckwheat noodles.
Stir the noodles occasionally, till they are fully cooked.
Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
Shock the noodles in ice water.
Stir the noodles by hand, till they feel like they have a firm chewy texture.
Drain the ice water off of the noodles.
Shime Saba Hoe Naengmyeon:
I only suggest preparing home made shime saba with fresh caught mackerel. Pre-prepared shime saba is available as a frozen product at Asian food markets. Frozen Cryovac Packaged Shime Saba is a nice quality product!
Step 1: Place the cold noodles in a mixing bowl.
Add enough of the chilled spicy sweet Korean Pear Red Chile Pepper Sauce to generously coat the noodles.
Toss the ingredients together.
Step 2: Use a long tine carving fork or chop sticks to twist the noodles and place them on a plate.
Sprinkle some thin julienne sliced carrot over the naengmyeon.
Step 3: Bias slice 4 to 5 ounces of Shime Saba into large bite size pieces.
Overlap the shime saba slices on top of the naengmyeon, so they look nice.
Garnish the plate with a savoy cabbage leaf, a couple of thin slices of jalapeño pepper and a green onion that is flower cut.
The flavor combination of light sweet pickled mackerel and spicy sweet naengmyeon is incredibly delicious!