This is another dish that’s a little more summer than it is spring or late winter (both because it’s chilled and it calls for cucumber, which is usually too expensive to buy this time of year), but it’s super-tasty and easy enough to throw together on a weeknight, especially if you have a mandoline that juliennes. (Cuts vegetables into matchstick shapes so you don’t have to do it yourself.) Usually bibim naeng myun includes meat or hard-boiled egg, which you’re more than welcome to include, but I prefer the clean flavors and easy prep of this vegan version.
The recipe is adapted from Debbie Lee’s “Seoultown Kitchen.” It makes 3 generous servings. If you can afford a cucumber or happen to have some growing in your yard (start some seedlings indoors now!), by all means include one.
• 8 oz. soba noodles: $1.30
• 3 T sesame oil: 50 cents
• 2 small shallots, thinly sliced: 10 cents
• 3 T rice vinegar: 10 cents
• 1 T sugar: 5 cents
• 1 apple, cored and julienned: 50 cents
• 2 carrots, peeled and julienned: 6 cents
• 1 cucumber, peeled and julienned (I didn’t use one this time because they were too expensive)
• 1/4 cup gochujang (fermented pepper paste): 20 cents
• 1/4 cup rice vinegar: 12 cents
• 3 T honey: 10 cents
• 2 T soy sauce: 12 cents
• 1/4 cup sesame oil: $1
• 1/4 cup green onions, chopped (for garnish): $0
GRAND TOTAL: $2.61 + $1.54 = $4.15/3 = $1.38/serving
First off, while this dish is quick to throw together, set aside some time to julienne the carrot, apple and cucumber (if using). While you do it, think about that mandoline slicer you’re going to buy with all the money you’re saving by not eating out.
In a small bowl, combine the sliced shallots with the sugar, rice vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
In a small food processor, combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette except the sesame oil. Process until well blended.
Slowly add the sesame oil a little bit at a time, blending as you go (if you don’t have a pour-through area on your processor, don’t forget to replace the lid), to emulsify. Add to the bowl with the shallots, sugar and vinegar. Stir to combine.
Cook the soba in boiling salted water according to package directions. Rinse well under cold water. One chilled, remove to a large bowl with 3 T sesame oil, toss to thoroughly coat each noodle. Make sure no noodles are stuck together.
Mix in the carrots, apple, half the cucumber (if using), and half the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve drizzled with the remaining vinaigrette, with the rest of the cucumber and green onions as garnish.