A labor of love that is well worth the effort
For each of my series, I always try to wrap it up with a truly sensational dish – something that’s captivating, creative, and of course delicious. And Subak Naengmyeon has “grand finale” written all over it. To cap off my recent series on how people from around the world eat watermelon, I present to you South Korean watermelon cold noodles.
I instantly fell in love with this noodle dish that was submitted by Rachel, who had a journey of falling in love with it herself. Rachel is originally from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, where she grew up eating watermelon almost every day, but not necessarily as part of a cold noodle dish. It wasn’t until she moved to South Korea with her South Korean husband that she discovered just how many ways there are to eat watermelon. Rachel was amazed at the culinary creativity of the South Koreans and how they’d used watermelon to create things like watermelon rind kimchi, watermelon soju, and Subak Naengmyeon.
According to Rachel, Subak Naengmyeon isn’t a historical or traditional recipe, but actually a fairly new invention for South Korea. It’s an item that you can now easily find, especially during the hot summer months where both watermelon and cold noodles are in season. So why not combine the two together?
For Subak Naengmyeon, cooked and cooled noodles are tossed in a spicy sauce of rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, sesame seeds, and both gochujang and gochugaru. Once you have the seasoned noodles, you’ll place them into a carved out watermelon and top everything with some fresh ingredients like cucumbers, radish, and a boiled egg. So essentially, the watermelon becomes one of the key ingredients, as well as the bowl. Sure, it’s maybe not the easiest thing to eat, but who cares when it tastes this good?
I truly have never seen a combination of noodles and watermelon, but now there is no going back. Subak Naengmyeon is a delightful dish that’s fun to eat and somehow contains the perfect blend of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors with just the right amount of spice. Just like Rachel learned, this is a recipe you can’t help but fall in love with.
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