One of the countless ways Korean food excites me is that it employs extreme temperature—whether it’s serving food in the ripping- hot stone pots called dolsot or frozen bowls. I remember the chef world—myself included—nerding out when Noma served squid with broccoli in a vessel made entirely of ice, only to find myself, a few weeks later, eating naengmyeon out of one in Flushing, Queens.
There’s no ice bowl required for this dish, though I do take a page from a restaurant I went to in Seoul where they put the chilled broth into a slushy machine. My at- home version uses a savory- sweet granita to top the cold, super-chewy buckwheat noodles in a spicy dressing. The addition of dragon fruit powder is 100-percent not traditional and 95-percent optional, but it does add a little sweetness and an absolutely spectacular neon pink color. Got that trick from Starbucks.
FOR THE DRAGON FRUIT ICE
4 cups mushroom stock, homemade or store-bought, chilled
½ cup apple juice
2 tablespoons freeze-dried dragon fruit powder
1 tablespoon Korean or Japanese apple vinegar
FOR THE DISH
24 ounces fresh or frozen naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles), or 20 ounces dried naengmyeon
1 large Asian pear, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
½ cup agave syrup or maple syrup
3 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
2 tablespoons Korean or Japanese apple vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼-inch-thick coin peeled ginger
1 large garlic clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
10 ounces Persian or Japanese cucumbers, cut into matchsticks (2 cups)
1 cup drained chopped spicy cabbage kimchi, homemade or store-bought
Make the dragon fruit ice:
Combine the stock, apple juice, dragon fruit powder, and vinegar in a medium mixing bowl and stir well. Pour into a 9 x 7-inch metal baking dish or another container where the mixture is about 2 inches deep. Freeze, using a fork to scrape the ice every 30 minutes, until it’s fluffy and fully frozen, about 31/2 hours.
Covered, it keeps in the freezer for up to 2 days. You might need to stir and scrape it to turn it back into fluffy shaved ice.
Make the dish:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large mixing bowl with water and a bunch of ice and set it aside. Add the noodles to the boiling water, stir well, and cook until fully tender but still very chewy, about 4 minutes or according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles, then add them to the icy water and stir until they’re chilled. Drain again really well and use scissors to snip them into manageable lengths.
Combine the Asian pear, agave, gochugaru, gochujang, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt, and sesame oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Combine the sauce and noodles in a large mixing bowl and toss to coat well.
Serve in four bowls, garnish with the cucumber and kimchi, and top with the dragon fruit ice.
Reprinted with permission from From Mission Vegan: Wildly Delicious Food for Everyone by Danny Bowien with JJ Goode. Copyright 2022 by Danny Bowien. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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