Find summer comfort at Kong-guksu, a simple Korean noodle dish

soy milk noodles

Photo: TMON (Shutterstock)

Summer in Korea can be hot and sultry, which means Korean cuisine is designed to cool people down in the hot season. I have already given you an introduction to the refreshing noodle dish naengmyeonand a thoughtful commenter reminded me not to forget another quintessential summer noodle dish, known as kong guksu. (Thanks, KDian!)

What Iis it kong guksu?

This one is about as easy as Korean food gets. That’s because kong-guksu, which literally translates to “bean noodles,” only has two ingredients: homemade noodles and pasta. soy milk. The dish is served cold, and is garnished with julienned cucumbers and a pinch of toasted sesame seeds. Sometimes you’ll see a hard-boiled egg on top, maybe tomatoes, but when my mom makes it, it’s just cucumbers and sesame seeds.

Soy milk, usually made from scratch, is not the type of milk you probably imagine from the supermarket in the dairy alternatives section. Rather, they are cooked and mashed yellow soybeans that are pulsed with water in a blender or food processor. The resulting mash is then passed through a sieve, and because it uses a lot of soybeans, it retains a thick creaminess that is nourishing, yet light at the same time. Yesyou will notice the simple, nutty flavor of no-frills soybeans that cling to your wheat-based noodles. It is a dish that relies on comfort.

How to serve kong-guksu

Bankhan, aka the little side dishes you make for a Korean meal, really sing here. My favorite dish with kong-guksu is simply any a kind of kimchi, as the cold-fermented vegetables bring out the humble flavor of the noodles and soy milk.

You can absolutely pick up kits at the grocery store in the refrigerated section, which come with noodles and a soy milk base. (Toppings aren’t included, though.) While the kits are perfectly functional and will fit the bill when you don’t feel like doing a lot of cooking, the homemade kind is much better, and really not much effort other than boiling cooked soybeans and cooking some noodles.

If you want to taste it for yourself, Korean food blog korean bapsang has a really easy recipe. (Although nuts are included in the ingredient list, I’ll let you know that they’re completely optional, in case you have any allergies.) Since we have a lot of summer left, try giving the kong a chance. -guksu , and enjoy the joy of its simplicity.