Have you ever tasted a traditional Korean cold salad, called naengchae in Korean? Whenever I make this style of salad, I use a spicy mustard sauce or a garlic sauce as a dressing. I’ll show you the garlic sauce someday, but in this this recipe
Korean salad is pretty loose – you can make it with pretty much anything you have in the fridge, not just what I use here. You can use real crab meat or shrimp instead of artificial crab meat, because all of them are red and will look nice in the mix. Or just use carrot if you’re a vegetarian. Just choose some colorful ingredients, mix them with this sauce, and declare: “I made Korean gyeoja naengchae!”
However, the one ingredient that really makes this dish stand out is the Asian pear. A lot of people who taste my naengchae ask: what’s the sweet, crispy stuff?” When I tell them it’s pear, they are a little shocked. No one expects a crispy pear in a spicy dish.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6):
- 1 tablespoon Korean mustard seed powder (gyeojagaru)
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 6 ounces artificial crab sticks (about 140 grams)
- 1 medium size English cucumber (7 ounces: about 200 grams), cut into 6 inch long matchsticks
- 1 large Korean pear (1 pound), cored and cut into matchsticks
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts and radish sprouts (optional)
- Combine the gyeojagaru and water in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add salt, sugar, and white vinegar. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate.
- Remove the wrappers from the imitation crab sticks and cook them in a microwave oven for 1 minute. They’ll get soft, a little elastic, and turn a more vivid red. If you don’t have a microwave, you can pan-fry them in a skillet with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil.
- If the crab sticks are longer than 6 inches, trim them down so they are the same length as the other ingredients. Pull them by hand into fine threads.
- Arrange the cucumber, imitation crab, and pear on a platter, and drizzle the mustard sauce sauce over top, sprinkle with pine nuts, and serve. When it’s time to eat it, mix all the salad ingredients together and let people take their own servings from the platter.