Last Updated on June 3, 2023
Vegan Bibim Men (Korean Style Cold Mixed Noodles) is a Japanese interpretation of the traditional Korean cold noodle dish bibim guksu. This delicious vegan bibim men has an irresistible sauce that’s spicy, savory, tangy, sweet and garlicky. It’s easy to prepare that you’d want to make it over and over.
What’s Bibim Men?
Bibim Men [ビビン麺] is a Japanese name for the Korean style cold mixed noodle dish called bibim guksu. “Bibim [ビビン]” means “mixed” in Korean and “Men [麺]” means “noodles” in Japanese. So, Bibim Men is a made-up word for the Japanese people to call bibim guksu in Japanese.
It consists of thin wheat flour noodles with the sauce that’s spicy, savory, tangy, sweet and garlicky that lingers on your taste sensations. Typically, bibim men is topped with an boiled egg and julienned cucumber which adds a cooling effect and a contrasting refreshing flavor to the spicy noodles.
I’m Japanese but I love eating and making Korean food. In fact, Korean food is pretty popular in Japan where it’s not so difficult to find restaurants that provide authentic Korean dishes. If not the authentic ones, there are many Korean-style BBQ restaurants that also offer noodle dishes such as the bibim men or bibim guksu.
I’d always order noodles at Korean restaurants back then. Most Korean noodles aren’t vegan friendly so I can no longer eat them but I can still enjoy vegan bibim men at home!
What I love about bibim men is:
- The sauce that has all the flavor elements
- So easy to make
- I don’t have to try hard to veganize it to make it taste good
When I make Korean inspired dishes, they may not taste authentically Korean. But I can confidently say bibim men is absolutely delicious and so easy to make for a non-Korean person like me.
Bibim Men Sauce
As mentioned, bibim men is a cold noodle dish and the highlight of this dish is definitely the sauce!
The flavor profile of the sauce is:
- Savory (from gochujang and soy sauce)
- Spicy (from gochujang and gochugaru)
- Tangy (from rice vinegar)
- Sweet (from cane sugar)
- Aromatic (from garlic, sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil)
The sauce is very complex yet very well balanced which awakens your taste buds!
To make it easy for myself (because I don’t read Korean so I don’t really know what’s good and vegan), I use easy-to-find (easy-to-read labels in English) Korean ingredients (gochujang and gochugaru) from Mother in Law’s.
What Type of Noodles to Use
The noodles I use for bibim men is thin wheat flour noodles called somen noodles. I use Organic Somen Noodles from Gold Mine Natural Foods.
The thin somen noodles are perfect for making cold noodle dishes like this bibim men or my Japanese Vegan Cold Somen Noodles with Dipping Sauce. Somen noodles take only 2 minutes to cook and the noodles pick up the delicious sauce very well!
The authentic one is made with the Korean noodles called somyeon which I believe are the same or very similar to the Japanese somen noodles.
For the toppings of my vegan bibim men, I use fresh cucumber which is actually a typical topping for bibim men. Cucumber is so refreshing and it adds some fresh crunch in each bite.
As an option, you could add some kizami nori (shredded nori) or Korean seaweed and extra toasted sesame oil but they aren’t necessary.
Be sure to check out the “Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)” after the Printable Recipe!
Vegan Bibim Men (Korean Style Cold Mixed Noodles)
Bibim Men Sauce
- 2 tbsp gochujang
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp cane sugar
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1/4-1/2 tsp garlic paste 1/4 tsp = about 1 small garlic clove
- 1/2 tsp gochugaru adjust to taste
Cooking Somen Noodles
- 7 oz dried somen noodles
- 2.5 qt water
- 3.5 oz English cucumber (or any seedless cucumber) julienned
- vegan kimchi
- extra toasted sesame seeds
- Kizami nori (shredded nori) or Korean seaweed (gim or kim)
- Extra toasted sesame oil
- In a large pot, start boiling water for cooking somen noodles.
- Meanwhile, prepare the bibim men sauce. In a large prep bowl, combine gochujang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, cane sugar, toasted sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, garlic paste, and gochugaru. Use a whisk to mix until well combined. Set it aside.
- Once the water is boiling, cook somen noodles for 2 minutes (or follow the instructions on the package.) Use a colander to drain. Rinse the noodles under running water to remove the starch and to stop cooking. Shake off the excess water.
- Prepare an ice bath then transfer the somen noodles to the ice bath to shock them. Once noodles are cooled down, use the same colander to drain immediately (don’t let them sit in the water for too long.) Shake off the excess water very well. Be sure to remove the ice if there are any left in the colander.
- Add the well-drained somen noodles to the bowl with the bibim men sauce. Toss them until the noodles are well coated with the sauce.
- Serve immediately with English cucumber, vegan kimchi, and extra toasted sesame seeds on top.
- Gochujang is Korean fermented spicy red chili paste.
- The spiciness of gochujang may vary. Adjust to taste.
- I use Original Gochujang from Mother-in-Law’s. It’s vegan.
- I use a zester to make garlic paste.
- Since it’s raw garlic, it can be very strong for some people. Adjust to your preference. If you aren’t a fan of raw garlic, you can use less or omit. I’ve made one without the garlic paste and it was still just as delicious!
- Gochugaru is Korean spicy red chili pepper flakes. It has somewhat smoky aroma to it.
- Adjust the amount to your spice level tolerance.
- I use Gochugaru (Korean Chile Flakes) from Mother-in-Law’s.
Toasted Sesame Seeds
- It’s very important to use the toasted ones. Untoasted (raw) sesame seeds won’t have the same taste.
- If you only have raw sesame seeds or you want to make your own, use my Irigoma (Toasted Sesame Seeds) It’s absolutely easy & delicious!
- Somen noodles are typically sold as dried noodles.
- 1 serving of dried somen noodles is about 3.5 /100 g
- I use Organic Somen Noodles from Gold Mine Natural Foods. The package contains 8.8 oz/250g which is slightly over 2 servings.
- Be sure to look for vegan kimchi. Many kimchi sold in stores may contain some animal ingredients!
- Use “traditional” type vegan kimchi made with napa cabbage, not sauerkraut kind (I don’t call that kimchi.)
- I use my own Vegan Kimchi
Kizami Nori (Optional Topping)
- Kizami Nori is simply a shredded sushi nori seaweed which adds an additional flavor to the dish.
- You can buy kizami nori from Asian markets or buy regular sushi nori and shred with scissors. Check out my Kizami Nori (Shredded Nori) in Vegan Japanese Pantry Guide.
- Alternatively, use Korean seaweed (gim or kim.)
Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)
First, prepare the toppings (julienned cucumber, kimchi, and toasted sesame seeds) ready. Note: kimchi & sesame seeds are not shown in the photo below.
1. In a large pot, start boiling water for cooking somen noodles.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the bibim men sauce. In a large prep bowl, combine gochujang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, cane sugar, toasted sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, garlic paste, and gochugaru in a large prep bowl.
Use a whisk to mix until well combined. Set it aside.
3. Once the water is boiling, cook somen noodles for 2 minutes (or follow the instructions on the package.)
Use a colander to drain. Rinse the noodles under running water to remove the starch and to stop cooking. Shake off the excess water.
4. Prepare an ice bath then transfer the somen noodles to the ice bath to shock them.
Once noodles are cooled down, use the same colander to drain immediately (don’t let them sit in the water for too long.)
Shake off the excess water very well. Be sure to remove the ice if there are any left in the colander.
5. Add the well-drained somen noodles to the bowl with the bibim men sauce.
Toss them until the noodles are well coated with the sauce.
6. Serve immediately with English cucumber, vegan kimchi, and extra toasted sesame seeds on top.
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