The easiest summer dish — chilled Buckwheat Soba Noodles tossed with fragrant, earthy Korean perilla oil! Minimal cooking, simple preparation, and so satisfying and cooling. A 15-minute weeknight meal that’s incredibly easy, delicious, and refreshing!
To combat hot and humid weather, Koreans consume all manner of chilled savory noodles.
To name a few: Bibim Guksu (spicy cold mixed noodles), Naeng Myeon (cold noodles in chilled broth), and Kkong Guksu (soybean milk noodles).
Now, here’s another one to add to your repertoire: Cold Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Perilla Oil!
What are Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Perilla Oil?
Buckwheat Soba noodles are noodles made from buckwheat flour. Dark brown and nutty-tasting, these thin noodles are also gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. (Be sure to check the packaging, as some brands include small portions of wheat flour).
Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat noodles. Memil Guksu is the Korean name.
But there go by many names: Korean soba noodles, Korean buckwheat noodles, Mak Guksu, or (generically) soba noodles.
Buckwheat Soba Noodles are a common Korean pantry. They can be eaten hot or cold and there’s multiple ways to enjoy them. The texture is soft and slightly bouncy. Thin strands of buckwheat soba wrap around each other and are infinitely slurpable and pleasurable to eat!
Dressed with fragrant perilla oil, buckwheat soba noodles take on a distinctly Korean flavor. Simple and irresistible!
- Buckwheat Soba Noodles. Nutty, firm, slightly chewy. Also known as Japanese Soba noodles or Korean Memil Guksu, find them dried in plastic packages like spaghetti. If you can find it, fresh buckwheat noodles have the best texture.
- Perilla Oil. Earthy, fragrant, nutty, deeply delicious!
- Soy sauce. The salty, umami-rich element. You don’t need much because of the extra salt in the roasted seaweed snack.
- Sugar. A little bit to balance out all the other flavors.
- Green Onions. Adds soft onion flavor and color.
- Chili Pepper. Optional but adds a subtle spicy kick. I recommend Korean chilies, fresno chilies, or jalapenos.
- Roasted Seaweed Snack. Koreans call this Gim. One pack per serving seems like a lot. But it’s completely necesssary! Adds so much flavor and texture.
- Sesame Seeds. Crunchy and nutty.
- Soft Boiled Egg. A silky-soft egg yolk coats the noodles for more flavor. Use a hard boiled egg if you prefer. Or leave it out entirely to keep the dish vegan.
- Cook, drain, and rinse buckwheat noodles.
- Mix sauce ingredients in bowl.
- Add noodles to sauce and mix well.
- Divide noodles evenly between 2 bowls.
- Top each bowl with 1 package crushed Roasted Seaweed Snack (Gim)!
- Garnish with sesame seeds and jammy egg. Enjoy!
Watch how to make it:
- Prep soft boiled eggs first. While they sit in an ice bath, cook the noodles and stir the sauce together.
- Freeze chilies. Most recipes call for 1 or 2 chilies. To keep on hand but also prevent food spoilage, stash in a ziploc baggie to store in the freezer. Chillies freeze very well and last a long time this way, about 6 months. Rest for 1-2 minutes at room temperature before slicing.
- Do not overcook the noodles. The texture is everything! Set a time for 1 minute less than the package cooking directions and check for texture before draining.
- Rinse and drain noodles well. Make sure there’s no excess water to dilute the sauce.
- Add Gim right before serving. For best texture!
As usual, there are infinite variations for Korean Buckwheat Noodles:
- To make it vegan, don’t include an egg.
- To add more vegetables, include:
- Thinly sliced cucumber
- Thinly sliced red cabbage
- Thinly sliced carrot
- Chopped soft lettuce such as butter, gem, green or red
- To add more protein, add:
- Shredded roasted chicken
- Leftover steak or roasted pork
- Cubed firm tofu
What is Perilla Oil?
Perilla oil comes from the roasted seeds of Korean perilla (Kkaennip) leaves. Also called Deulgireum, it’s commonly used in Korean cuisine and is a nutty, earthy, and very fragrant oil.
Perilla oil contains many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Although perilla belongs to the sesame family, the flavor is distinctly different — deep, earthy, rich.
In Korean cooking, perilla oil is most often used as a finishing oil or dressing ingredient. Fragrant and subtly complex, a small drizzles adds delicious, deep flavor!
Is there a substitute for Perilla Oil?
Perilla Oil belongs to the sesame family. In a pinch, you can substitute with sesame oil. However, Perilla Oil is much more earthy, deep, and rich. The flavor won’t be quite the same.
How do I store Perilla Oil?
Perilla oil — similar to sesame oil — contains a high amount of healthy fatty acids and spoils easily. Store in the fridge where it should last about a year.
Can I use another type of noodle?
Yes, absolutely! I recommend the nutty, earthy flavor of Japanese Soba noodles (also called Korean Memil Guksu) as it pairs well with Perilla Oil. But feel free to use any noodle you like. Good substitutions: somyoen/somen (thin wheat noodle), ramen noodles, instant noodles (without the soup base), or even thick udon noodles. Make sure to drain and rinse well with cold water.
What else can I make with Perilla Oil?
Use Perilla Oil in Korean Pork Bone Soup (Gamjatang). Otherwise, use in place of sesame oil as a finishing ingredient or marinade. The flavor difference is subtle but deliciously complex and deep.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Korean Buckwheat Noodles are best eaten immediately.
But if you need to make in advance, make the sauce and prep the toppings and store separately. Cook and drain the noodles right before serving, even up to 1 hour in advance. Don’t toss with the sauce until right before serving! Then garnish with crumbled Gim (roasted seaweed snack) and sesame seeds. The texture and flavors will taste best that way.
How do I store leftovers?
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It should stay good for 1-2 days. Surprisingly, leftovers taste good the following day, although the texture is slightly softer.
Other summer recipes you may enjoy:
- Bibim Guksu
- LA Galbi (Korean BBQ Beef Short Ribs)
- Korean Strawberry Milk with Sago
- Peach Yakult with Sago
- Coconut Lime Popsicles
Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Perilla Oil
- 1 Stock pot
- 1 Large colander
- 1 Large Bowl
- 200 g/ Japanese Soba Noodles or Korean Memil Guksu
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Perilla oil (can be subbed with sesame oil)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 green onions, minced
- 1 chili pepper, minced (green, fresno, or jalapeno)
- 2 packets roasted seaweed snack (Gim) 1 per serving
- 2 soft boiled eggs 1 per serving
- sprinkle sesame seeds
- Bring a large stock pot to boil over high heat. Add soba noodles/memil guksu and cook until cooked through but still slightly bouncy and chewy, about 5-6 minutes. (About 1 minute less than the package directions.) Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine sauce ingredients: soy sauce, perilla oil, sugar, green onions, and chili pepper. Mix with a spoon.
- Add cold, drained soba noodles to the sauce. Mix well with tongs, making sure the noodles are evenly coated.
- Divide noodles evenly between two bowls.
- Top each bowl with 1 package of roasted seaweed snack (gim), a soft boiled egg, and sprinkle of sesame seeds. Enjoy immediately!