Korean Cold Noodle Soup (Janchi guksu)

My favorite summertime soup for the past couple of years has been a Korean cold noodle soup called “janchi guksu.” It’s made with thin, white wheat noodles and a light broth consisting of dried anchovies and kelp (or “dasima” in Korean and “kombu” in Japanese). The Korean word “janchi” translates to banquet or feast (special events or gatherings such as weddings, birthday parties) and “guksu” means noodles. The noodles are typically served with julienne vegetables, thinly sliced omelet, and/or beef along with a spicy sauce made with garlic, scallions, Korean red pepper powder, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

For those who don’t know, kelp is a large seaweed belonging to the brown algae group. If you’re still a bit fearful of kelp, you’ll be surprised to know that it’s used as a stabilizer in many of our favorite foods such as ice cream, chocolate milk, and peanut butter. Click here for additional information on kelp.

Beef broth or dashi (a Japanese broth made with bonito flakes and kombu) can be substituted although the flavors will not be as authentic. This a very refreshing dish to have on a hot day. I hope this cold noodle soup becomes your favorite summertime noodle dish too!

Click here for recipe…

Ingredients for cold noodle soup
Ingredients for cold noodle soup. Clockwise from top: Japanese cucumber (julienne), kelp, dried anchovies, Thai chili peppers, and garlic

korean cold noodle soup janchi guksu
Korean Cold Noodle Soup

serves 2-3

4 cups water
2 Tbsp. dried anchovies
4 inch piece of dried kelp
4 cloves garlic (bruised or lightly crushed)
2 cups of ice cubes
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 bundles somen noodles (thin, white Japanese wheat noodles)
½ Japanese cucumber (or substitute with English cucumber) – julienne
8 cloves garlic – minced
3 Thai chili peppers
1 Tbsp. gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
3 scallions – chopped
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

1. water, anchovies, kelp, garlic, salt
In a medium pot on medium high heat, bring water to a boil. Add anchovies, kelp, garlic, and salt. Turn heat down to low. Simmer for 15 mins. Then turn off heat. Take pot off burner. Place pot on top of heat resistant surface (on top of oven mitt). Add 2 cups of ice to broth. Let broth cool.

2. somen noodles
Cook somen noodles by following package instructions. Add noodles in boiling water. Gently stir with chopsticks to prevent noodles from sticking. It takes only a couple minutes for noodles to cook. Drain noodles in a colander. Cool noodles under cold running water. Leave noodles in colander to further drain while you prepare the cucumber and sauce in next couple steps.

3. Japanese cucumber
Cut the cucumber in half. Julienne cucumber with skin on. Set aside.

4. sauce: garlic, Thai chili peppers, gochugaru, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds
Combine all ingredients for sauce. Set aside.

5. final steps
Divide noodles evenly amongst 3 bowls. Add julienne cucumber to each bowl. Add broth evenly to each bowl. Caution: Add one teaspoon of sauce at a time to each bowl. Let each person decide their level of tolerance for the spicy sauce. Enjoy!

Optional: Instead of thin slices of omelet, I added seared tenderloin to my noodles.

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