Sometimes, the cool fall weather makes me crave hot noodle soup — especially ramyun. During my high school years, ramyun was my all-time favorite late-night snack. It was the one thing I looked forward to while I studied; a reward to myself for staying up late. All those late night meals caused weight gain, but there was another big problem. After having a bowlful of hot, delicious ramyun, my eyelids kept closing… I could not keep them open… it just made me too sleepy. My friends and I used to joke that they must have put some kind of sleeping powder inside the ramyun because none of us could ever stay awake afterward! If you want to stay up, don’t eat ramyun!
In 1963, Samyang Ramyeon became the first Korean company to produce ramyun. But even with the help of a Japanese company called Myojo Foods, Samyang Ramyeon had trouble gaining popularity because the flavor was a little too mild for Korean taste buds. As you know, Koreans LOVE spicy foods, but the original ramyun did not have any spiciness to it. So Samyang modified the soup base by adding Korean red chili powder and garlic. In other words, MAGIC. Koreans loved it, and we have been hooked since then. Today there are over 100 different kinds of ramyun produced in Korea. If you watch any kind of K-dramas or TV shows, you will always see Koreans cook and eat ramyun in many different ways.
Today, the recent trend in ramyun is to mix things up or add a new twist to it. “Ramyun blending” is a term that got started thanks to little Yoonhoo on the show “Dad! Where Are We Going?” Fans will no doubt remember the time Yoonhoo mixed Chapagetti and Neoguri together to make a new concoction called chapaguri. That show is actually one of my favorite reality shows — it is so cute, so funny and so heart-warming all at the same time. If you have not watched it, you just HAVE TO.
So after going through several recipes in my test kitchen, here are three ramyun recipes that passed my taste test!
Chapaguri: Chapa(getti) + (Neo)guri
The combo that started it all! Chapagetti is basically instant jjajangmyeon (the black bean noodle that is the most famous dish in Chinese restaurants in Korea), while Neoguri is a spicy seafood ramen with thick noodles. Mix the two together to join the spicy, earthy taste of Neoguri with the sweet and savory taste of Chapagetti. Voila… chapaguri! Eat it with kimchi or pickled daikon for a fast and delicious meal.
Kimbura: Kim(chi) + Bu(tter) + Ra(myun)
Kimchi butter ramyun, introduced by Spica’s Jiwon as her favorite nighttime snack on the show “Happy Together.” You know that Koreans love shortening words… I guess they just don’t have time to pronounce everything! Kimbura is quite simple to make, and yet I found it quite delicious. The butter really smooths out the sharp spiciness, while the kimchi adds a whole another dimension of flavor.
Golbim Myun: Gol(baengyi) + (Bi)bim Myun
This dish is not for the faint-hearted: Golbaengyi is a type of small snail. But cooked snails are common in many Asian and European countries, and Korea is one of them. Bibim myun are cold spicy mixed noodles. Shinhwa’s Dongwan shared this recipe also on “Happy Together.” Combine golbaengyi with cucumbers and green onions, and toss in the spicy sweet bibim sauce. If you’re feeling less adventurous, you can substitute the snails for calamari or squid.