Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Naengmyeon - Hamheung style

Hamheung, the second largest city in North Korea, is the other city famous for the cold noodle dish naengmyeon. (The other being Pyongyang, whose naengmyeon style I've posted about before.) Although naengmyeon comes in both bibim (mixed) and mul ("water") styles in both cities, the Hamheung is known for the former and Pyongyang for the latter.

Pyongyang naengmyeon noodles are made from buckwheat. Hamheung naengmyeon noodles are made of potato or sweet potato starch, which make them especially chewy and rubbery. Servers at restaurants will usually snip the noodles with kitchen shears at the table, unless you have a perverse delight in trying to consume a neverending tangle of noodles in one go. I've discovered that most people's preference for one style over the other usually depends on the texture of the noodles.

I usually order the mul naengmyeon over the bibim in whatever city style. I'm a soup person. But since bibim naengmyeon is Hamheung's original, I went for the bibim this time.

The naengmyeon is composed of noodles, half of a boiled egg, sliced cucumbers and Korean pears, and slices of spicy hongeohweh (홍어회, pickled raw skate fish), all mixed together in a spicy gochujang sauce. Hamheung style bibim naengmyeon is sometimes called hweh (raw fish) naengmyeon for this reason.

Sliced pickled mu as a side dish, and if the spiciness isn't enough for you, you can add hot mustard to up the tongue-burn factor. (Korean mustard isn't like the western mustard; think of it as a yellow wasabi.)
Bibim naengmyeon is generally served with a cup of hot soup broth. Some restaurants might serve myeonsu (면수, noodle water), the water in which the noodles were boiled in, which is rich in the slightly nutty roasted flavor of the noodles. The restaurant I went to served broth. (See top photo.)

The restaurant I went to was one of those generic naengmyeon places that you'd see in any commercial district; nothing remarkable. But as with Pyongyang naengmyeon, it's better to go to a restaurant that serves naengmyeon as its main dish, instead of one that just happens to have naengmyeon on their menu.


Nana said...

Wahahah, it looks delicious!~
I actually tried making a korean dish for my dear mummi, but it....turned out....not the way I had expected...she liked it though, hahah!! :D

KingGalbi said...

Looks good, looking forward to moving to Korea each and everyday!!!

seoulsuzy said...

@Nana - If she liked it, that's what counts, right?

@King Galbi - Cool username. Hope Korea meets all your expectations!

KingGalbi said...

Thanks Suzy, I have all the confidence in the world that it will. Less than 96 hrs to go and counting.