Bibim guksu is a popular cold noodle dish that’s made with crisp, fresh vegetables. As with its rice counterpart, bibimbap, it’s very versatile!
A simple version from my childhood memories is made only with sliced kimchi and fresh cucumbers, kimchi bibim guksu. Sometimes, we didn’t even have kimchi in it, only noodles in a gochujang sauce with cucumber slices on top.
The addition of lots of fresh vegetables in this recipe makes the dish healthy, cool and refreshing! The result is an incredibly appetizing dish that is perfect for the warm weather!
Bibim guksu is usually made with thin wheat flour noodles (somyeon or somen) or buckwheat noodles (memil guksu, aka soba noodles). You can use any thin noodles.
In Korea, there are many variations of thin noodles made with different grains and/or other additions that add flavors and colors. While buckwheat noodles are my favorite, I also love colorful noodles made with green tea, seaweed, pumpkin, purple sweet potatoes, etc.
Here, I kept it simple. I added a few vegetables to create a nice combination of colors, flavors and textures. Other vegetables commonly used are scallions, perilla leaves, and Korean radishes. Red bell peppers, bean sprouts, watercress, spring mix, and avocado are all excellent options for this dish as well.
A little bit of julienned Korean pear or apple will be great as well.
You can also throw in some strips of blanched squid, snails, shrimp, or shredded chicken meat to make it a more substantial dish. Be creative and have fun with it!
You can toss it all together before serving, or arrange everything in a serving bowl so it can be mixed at the table. The latter allows each person to adjust the amount of sauce to his or her liking.
The sauce is gochujang based. I also add gochugaru for an extra kick. You can leave it if you like the noodles to be less spicy. For the sweetener, you can simply use sugar, or a combination of corn syrup (or oligo syrup) and sugar. The syrup gives a nice sheen to the dish, but you can simply use more sugar or honey if you want.
Korean maesilcheong (plum syrup) works wonderfully in this sauce, if available. You can also add a small amount of apple juice, orange juice, or soft drink such as coke or sprite to make the sauce even better.
Watch how to make it
More cold noodle dishes
Kimchi bibim guksu
Jaengban guksu (platter of cold noodles and vegetables)
Jjolmyeon (spicy chewy noodles)
Naengmyeon (cold chewy noodles)
Kongguksu (chilled soy milk noodle soup)
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Bibim Guksu (Spicy Cold Noodles)Main
- 8 ounces buckwheat noodles (memil guksu) or wheat flour noodles (somyeon/somen)
- 1 small cucumber (about 3 ounces)
- 1 small carrot (about 3 ounces)
- 2 ounces red cabbage leaves
- 2 ounces lettuce leaves
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced kimchi
- 1 boiled egg - optional
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil See note
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons Korean chili pepper paste, gochujang
- 1 tablespoon Korean chili pepper flakes, gochugaru
- 1 teaspoon Korean/Asian hot mustard paste, gyeoja optional
- 2 tablespoons sugar (or corn syrup/oligo syrup) adjust to taste
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar adjust to taste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons soft drink (such as ginger ale, Sprite, etc.), apple juice, orange juice, or 1 tablespoon of Korean plum syrup (maesilcheong) optional
- Mix all sauce ingredients and keep it cool in the fridge. The sauce can be prepared ahead of time, and it will keep well for up to 2 weeks.
- Julienne the cucumber, carrot and red cabbage. Thinly slice the lettuce. Keep them cool in the fridge or in ice water (drain well before using) if you like.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain quickly and shock in cold water to stop cooking.
- Drain and rinse in icy cold water until the noodles are very cold. Make two one-serving size mounds. Place the mounds in a colander to drain.
- Place the noodles in the middle of the serving bowl and nicely arrange the cold vegetables over the noodles. Drizzle the sesame oil over, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and place a half of boiled egg on top. The sauce can be served on top or separately.
- Alternatively, you can toss it all together before serving. Mix the noodles well with the sauce, add the sesame oil and vegetables, and toss well. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and place a half of boiled egg on top.
This recipe was originally posted in July 2010. I’ve updated it here with new photos and more information, and minor changes to the recipe.