Tomato, Tomato, Labor of Love – Naeng Myun

There are so many ways to make Naeng Myun, or Korean Cold noodles.  From the noodles, to the soup base, to the condiments, and acceptable toppings there is no shortage of variations.  Nothing says summer to me than Naeng Myun, but which recipe will we start with?

First off, let’s start with the basics, Naeng Myun was first created somewhere in the 1300’s in Korea in the Chosun Dynasty.  Originally, it was a whole family production.  Buckwheat flour was hand milled, then used to prepare a rudimentary dough.  That dough was pressed through something that reminds me of a play dough noodle maker.  The press was placed above a big caldron of boiling water. The noodles were rinsed well and placed in a bowl. Then the liquid from cold white kimchi (dong chi mi) was poured on top.  Sounds delicious? Well to me it sounds delicious but to the unaccustomed pallet, I guess chewy buckwheat noodles in pickle juice don’t really sound that appealing.

Anyway talk about regional differences, for such a small country we sure are particular!  Noodles made from potato, buckwheat, varying percentages of sweet potato and wheat flour.  Broths made from anchovies, dashi, and moo radish to beef broth based to tomato based.  Naeng Myun culture that thinks hot sauce is a must and other purists that believe it is almost vulgar to add any. With all these variants what is a girl to do?  Same thing I do every time I’m a little overwhelmed, make up my favorite iteration and call it winning!

One of my favorite family friends made this for me on a very hot summer’s day and it really hit the spot.  It’s a lot of work but at least you don’t have to turn on your stove for too long in the summer heat.

Warning this recipe requires and insane amount of tomatoes… and time

The base
 (for 3 people, 2.5 really if you like a lot of broth)
15 medium sized ripe tomatoes (should make ~ 3.5 cups tomato water)
2.5 cups water
1 tablespoon concentrated white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
|1 tablespoon naturally brewed soy sauce

Wash all your tomatoes then core and slash an “X” on the top of each tomato.

Place the tomatoes in hot boiling water for ~ 10 seconds, if you don’t feel like boiling a big pot do it in sections.  Then place the tomatoes under cold running water.  The skin should just glide off.  Line a strainer with cheese cloth, if you don’t have cheese cloth line it with clean paper towels.

Now, here’s the fun part, squish the tomatoes.  If you’re incredibly civilized you could place the tomatoes into a kitchen aid with a paddle attachment and let the paddle have the fun.  For the rest of you cavemen, squish with your hands!  I found that squishing above my lined strainer helped move the process along.

Leave the whole set up in your fridge till the tomatoes are dry.  Save tomato solids for awesome tomato sauce.


(yup, that’s a big tub, with a small bowl flipped upside down to suspend my big strainer filled with tomatoes, it works….)

You should now have around 3.5 cups tomato water, of course it depends on how much juice the tomatoes have and how patient you are.  Now add the remaining ingredients and make sure everything is dissolved and that is the broth!

I’ll post how you make the other toppings in the next episode.

Till then a recipe for the remaining tomato solids:
Like I mentioned before, I don’t like wasting food, so I took the tomato solids and cooked them down with a good portion of olive oil, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and salt.  Cooked tomatoes have higher lycopene content.  Lycopene is what makes a tomato red; it also is good for prostate health and skin (yay for carotenoids!).  I cooked the tomatoes down till there wasn’t much water left.  I let it cool and put it in a plastic bag in the freezer.  I’m going to save that for any time I feel like making spaghetti or maybe even my meatloaf!


  1. Jin says:

    Love the food scientists throw ins you include in your posts (how very Alton Brown of you). 🙂 As for me, this sounds like too much work to make so I’ll probably stick to buying it in restaurants! But it was interesting to learn that some make the broth out of tomato water. I had no idea!

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