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Korea's cold summer taste - naengmyeon and patbingsu

(Photo: Korea Tourism Organization)By Lee Ji-yoon

After the rainy season ends in mid-July, Korea’s scorching summer starts. While many Koreans fight the heat with hot foods like "samgyetang," chicken ginseng soup, one of the most popular summer dishes is "naengmyeon," literally meaning cold noodles.

Although naengmyeon was a North Korean delicacy consumed mainly in the winter time, these days it has been widely enjoyed throughout the Koreas. It consists of thin noodles, a tangy iced broth, julienned vegetables, a boiled egg and sliced beef.

There are two main varieties of naengmyeon. Mul naengmyeon is served with the noodles contained in a cold soup. Bibim naegmyeon is cold noodles added with vegetables and a spicy dressing made from red chili paste. 

Naengmyeon is usually presented in a large stainless bowl to keep the iced broth cold. According to one’s preference, vinegar and mustard can be added.

(Photo: Iceberry)Patbingsu, meaning red bean and ice, is a popular summer dessert in Korea. It is mainly composed of shaved ice, sweetened red beans and milk with other ingredients such as various fruits and small pieces of glutinous rice cake.

It was initially sold by street vendors, but you can enjoy it at every cafeteria and bakery during the summer season.

Different flavors are also available. Green tea, coffee and yogurt are favored variations.

Last year the U.S. coffee chain Starbucks launched red bean frappuccino in Korea and other Asian regions, which was inspired by Korea’s patbingsu.

Source: Korea Policy Review, July 2008

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