Homestyle chicken noodle soup

Dak-kalguksu 닭칼국수

I’m sharing my family’s all-time favorite food with you today, chicken noodle soup – dak-kalguksu in Korean. The word kal means knife and guksu means noodle soup, indicating that the noodles in this soup are made by cutting them from the dough.

There are many kinds of kalguksu, but this version is made with chicken (dak in Korean). The noodles are made from scratch, which makes this dish very special and welcome in any home. You can picture a housewife kneading dough, the chicken broth boiling in a huge pot on the stove behind her, giving off a great aroma, filling the whole house, and her family excited about the upcoming noodle soup.

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“Mom, is it ready yet??”
“Can I help you knead the dough?”

This dish always reminds me of good times with my relatives, siblings, parents, neighbors, and friends. Kalguksu is a very social dish and this is something we used to make when we had a lot of people over. Everyone could pitch in and help, especially to make the noodles.

In this recipe I use a half cup of starch in the dough, which is optional and can be replaced with flour. But you should use starch because it makes a big difference in the noodles. There’s a great kalguksu place here in New York City that has chewy and firm noodles that never go soggy no matter how long they’re in the broth. I couldn’t figure out how they did it! Of course I did a lot of experiments at home and discovered that a bit of starch did the trick. If you’re a hardcore cook & noodle lover, you’ll absolutely be able to tell the difference between noodles made with starch and without.

This recipe serves 4, but if you want to make 2 servings, just use only half the dough this time, and keep the other half in the fridge for more kalguksu or something else. Divide the chicken stock, too, and keep half in the fridge for later.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 16 cups water
  • 16 peeled garlic cloves (about ½ cup)
  • 1 medium onion, cut into quarters
  • 3½ cup all purpose flour, plus ⅓ cup flour to dust
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks (about 1½ cup)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • vegetable oil
  • sesame oil
  • salt
  • fish sauce (or soup soy sauce)
  • ground black pepper

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Directions

Start the broth:

  1. Put water, chicken breast, garlic, and onion in a large stock pot and boil for 1 hour over high heat.
    Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)

While it boils, make the noodle dough:

  1. Combine flour, starch, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and 1¼ water in a large bowl.
  2. Mix with a wooden spoon to form a lump. Knead it by hand until it forms as ball. Put it into a plastic bag, seal it, and let it sit in the fridge or on the kitchen counter for 10 minutes.
    Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)
  3. Take the dough out of the plastic bag, knead it for 2 to 5 minutes, and then put it back in. Kneading it in stages like this, and storing it in the plastic bag between sessions will make it soft and pliable with a minimum of effort.
    Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)

Prepare the zucchini:

  1. Combine the zucchini matchsticks with ¼ teaspoon salt and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Squeeze the excess water out by hand and sautee with a few drops of vegetable oil in a pan. Set aside.
    Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)

Finish the stock:

  1. After an hour of boiling, remove from the heat. Strain. The stock will be about 13 cups at this point and it should look clear but a little milky.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons fish sauce (or soup soy sauce) or to taste. Mix well and put it back to the stock pot. Set aside.
    Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)

Make garlic seasoning paste:

  1. Collect the cooked garlic into a small bowl and mash it with a spoon. Add 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Pull the chicken into thin strips with your fingers and mix it in with the garlic mixture. Set aside.
     Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)

Make noodles:

  1. Take out the dough and knead it again for a couple of minutes until it’s really smooth. Divide the dough into 2 balls.
  2. Dust a large cutting board or clean kitchen table with flour and put the dough on it. Roll it out with a rolling pin to a circle about 18 inches wide and 1/16 inch thick (1 or 2 mm). Flip it over occasionally to make it even, round, and flat. If you need to, sprinkle some flour on it when you flip, to keep it from sticking.
     Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수) Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)
  3. Evenly spread some flour on the dough, and fold it over 3 or 4 times. Cut it into thin noodles, about 1/8 inch thick. Sprinkle some flour on them, and gently mix them up to separate them and spread the flour evenly.
  4. Make noodles with the other ball of dough but repeating the steps above.
     Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수) Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수) Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)

Make soup:

  1. Bring the stock to a boil and add the noodles. Stir with a wooden spoon and cover.
  2. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes until all the noodles float and some bubbles form on the surface. Remove from the heat.
  3. Ladle into large individual bowls. Put some zucchini on the center of each bowl and add some chicken. Sprinkle some chopped green onion over top, and serve immediately with kimchi and few more side dishes if you have them. Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수) Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수) Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)

To make spicy version:

  1. Combine 2 table spoons hot pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons sesame oil in a small bowl. Mix well and serve. When you eat, add some of the mixture to your noodle soup and eat.
     Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)

 Korean chicken noodle soup (Kalguksu: 칼국수)

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71 Comments:

  1. JinnyChinChin Munich joined 3/17
    Posted March 30th, 2017 at 1:23 pm | # |

    I tried it today and it was soooo delicious!

    I just had one problem: I wasn’t able to roll out the dough, it was like a huge chewing gum without sticking to the board. I had to hold it up to the air, so that it stretches itself out due to its weight. After that I could roll it out. Unfortunately by layering and cutting it the noodles just stick together T-T

    Did I use too much oil or water?

    Thank u in advance for answering!

  2. philmawson london joined 3/17
    Posted March 11th, 2017 at 6:24 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi, We made this today, followed your recipe to a tee and it was delicious! Thank you! We are big fans! x


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  3. Lynnah The Netherlands joined 2/17
    Posted February 17th, 2017 at 1:39 pm | # |

    It didn’t quite turn out right, but still tasted well. It tasted quite bland, not the clear taste I had expected. Had to perform some ’emergency surgery’, and I think it turned out quite well, haha! Personally I was getting stomachaches from stress, but the rest of the company enjoyed it a lot, and that’s what matters ^^.

    I ended up adding gochujang, regular soy sauce (due to the lack of soup soy sauce), chili sauce and flakes.. Hence the dark colour (oops). And two chicken broth cubes. They really added a lot of flavor, next time I’m making this dish I’ll be adding those waaay earlier :).


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  4. Noelle2412 California joined 12/16
    Posted December 23rd, 2016 at 10:40 pm | # |

    I just made the noodle soup today but I adjusted the recipe. I used 1 cup of potato starch and 3 cups of all purpose flour to make the noodles more chewy and it worked ^_^


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  5. amoore Pasadena, CA joined 8/16
    Posted August 8th, 2016 at 3:55 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi!
    Just wanted to say that I am a huge fan and I love your recipes! Made this one tonight and it turned out perfectly – so delicious! Thank you!!


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  6. the.machinist India joined 5/16
    Posted May 19th, 2016 at 1:41 am | # |

    Maangachi,
    I am a student thus busy with academics & business. This soup is a complete food with all the possible nutrients. I have been cooking it fresh every day since the day i watched your youtube video. It’s so easy to cook and doesn’t require much attention!(i do not make the noodles but compensate with some cabbage/ cauliflower) Also the chilli + sesame trick to spice it up is genius.
    Let me know If i can help you with the blog(technical stuff). Would like to return the favour.

    Thank you,
    Best Regards.

  7. Fany joined 12/15
    Posted January 4th, 2016 at 5:12 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi!
    I really want to do this chicken noodle soup, but i don’t really like fish sauce, and I can’t find soup soy sauce. Can I use regular soy sauce?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted January 4th, 2016 at 5:15 pm | # |

      Use salt and some soy sauce then.

      • Fany joined 12/15
        Posted January 8th, 2016 at 5:13 pm | # |

        Thank you. And I have another question. Can I use chilli powder instead of chilli flakes? I heard that chilli powder is stronger, is it true? And if it’s stronger what amount of it will I have to use to obtain a similar hotness of this dish to yours?

  8. alistairsky joined 12/15
    Posted December 28th, 2015 at 4:06 am | # |

    My Korean husband adores this recipe, but even better, we’re thrilled that this has become our daughter’s favorite food! Thank you, Maangchi! She’ll ask, “Dad, Papa (he’s Dad, I’m Papa :) ) can we have Korean chicken soup again” and if you saw that little face you’d be just as helpless to resist ;) She hasn’t contracted a single cold from her kindergarten classmates yet, but the whole kindergarten has decided our house is the place to be for delicious snacktime playdates – especially other Korean families, where we trade tips! (Dad and Papa are learning from Maangchi!)
    My in-laws love your recipes as well – they keep teasing the husband that he’s lucky he found such a natural cook – when, shh, I learnt all I know through Maangchi :)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted December 28th, 2015 at 9:32 am | # |

      What a great story to close out the year!
      I feel I hear your daughter’s voice! When she asks for chicken soup, you wouldn’t be able to resist.
      “She hasn’t contracted a single cold from her kindergarten classmates yet,..” It sounds like she has been nourished by good food, so she can fight back any small germs! Tell her I said, “Bravo!” : )

  9. Emerquoise joined 8/15
    Posted December 11th, 2015 at 6:11 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi, I do not have chicken in my fridge, can I use pork belly or any pork?

  10. rhostam joined 6/15
    Posted November 30th, 2015 at 9:33 pm | # |

    Hi, fantastic recipe.

    I made one batch per instructions and it was delicious. The second batch I made I had a few extra other things on hand and decided to use them. I substituted the zucchini with broccoli/carrot/cabbage slaw (also stir fried briefly). I also added a few large pieces of thinly sliced ginger. When making the garlic paste I also added the ginger and a few pieces of onion (each also finely minced then also made into a paste). The last touch was to steep enoki mushrooms into the chicken broth for about 30 seconds. Finally, I plated the dish noodles > broccoli slaw > chicken mixture > enoki mushrooms > broth > green onion > sprinkle of black sesame seeds for fun texture and color. A fun improvisation and mighty tasty, too.

    Thanks again, I love your food.


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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted December 28th, 2015 at 9:34 am | # |

      wow, I’d like to taste some! It looks mouthwatering!

  11. agnes9289 joined 8/15
    Posted August 10th, 2015 at 11:53 am | # |

    Enjoy reading your new book. Is garlic paste used in this recipe? or save for other uses? Love your videos, great jobs.

  12. babatheturk joined 8/15
    Posted August 9th, 2015 at 11:02 pm | # |

    I’m one of your new fans!!!!!!!!!
    I was born in the States but grew up in Korea until I was almost 23. Married a French man and we live in NYC.
    I love to cook, but I started feeling my repertoire was very limited. Then my sister introduced me to Maangchi’s world last week and I have been OBSSESSED with you!!
    This is my first try of your recipe.

    DELISH!!!

    My husband wants to thank you and I do too<3


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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted August 13th, 2015 at 7:13 am | # |

      The noodle soup looks great! Thank you for sharing your story, too!

  13. fanindya13 joined 8/15
    Posted August 1st, 2015 at 9:02 am | # |

    Hello Maangchi! I tried your recipe, and I even made a blog post about it :D http://f-dm.blogspot.com/2015/08/cooking-homestyle-chicken-noodle-soup.html it would be really nice if you check it out~ btw, thanks so much for sharing the recipe! ^^


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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted August 3rd, 2015 at 4:11 pm | # |

      Thank you for sharing your kalguksu photo! Delicious!

  14. docpark US joined 5/10
    Posted July 26th, 2015 at 8:05 pm | # |

    Great recipe. Took about two hours of furious cooking.


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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted July 28th, 2015 at 9:53 am | # |

      Your kalguksu photo looks fantastic! Furious cooking? : ) It means you have passion for cooking!

  15. bapgongju joined 7/15
    Posted July 18th, 2015 at 8:47 pm | # |

    Hello unni,

    I hope you’ll be able to answer a few questions even though this was originally posted almost a year ago.

    If I don’t have access to potato starch, can I use corn starch or is it best to just do all flour?
    And if I should omit all starch, should I increase the amount of flour to 4 cups?

    I know that it’s best to make the the chicken stock from scratch but do you think using boxed chicken stock when you’re in a hurry will drastically reduce the flavor?

    What’s the best way to store the noodles for long term use? Since it’s just me, I would rather make the full batch and freeze it versus making noodles fresh every time. Should I freeze the dough and them bring it to room temp and roll and cut when needed or freeze the cut up noodles?

    Thank You!!!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted July 19th, 2015 at 10:35 am | # |

      Yes, you can use potato starch or cornstarch or skip them. You’ll still be able to make good noodles. When I add potato starch, the noodles taste more chewy, so I used it.

      If you skip the starch, of course you should add more flour. I don’t know how much flour should be added because starch and flour are different. You can figure it out when you make the dough.

      Boxed chicken stock sounds good to me!
      Yes, freeze the dough and thaw it out in the fridge or at room temp, then roll out and cut when needed.

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