Cold salad with spicy mustard sauce

Gyeoja-naengchae 겨자냉채

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. Combine the gyeojagaru and water in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add salt, sugar, and white vinegar. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate.
    Korean mustard sauce
  3. 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.
    imitation crab meat
    crab sticks
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
    Korean pear
    gyeoja naengchae



  1. prograhamer Toronto, ON joined 8/17
    Posted August 3rd, 2017 at 6:56 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi! Is this same sauce good to go with mul-naengmyeon to add the mustard heat? I had mul-naengmyeon in a restaurant here in Toronto, and they served it with a bottle of mustard sauce that looked a lot like yours in this video.

  2. Sara Alice joined 7/15
    Posted August 3rd, 2015 at 1:17 am | # |

    MAANGCHI!!! This recipe is amazing. I’ve been making Korean food for two years now, and this is one of the most easiest dishes I have made from your website, you are my main inspiration for making delicious Korean food. This was incredibly and hit the spot for me tonight!!!

    See full size image

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted August 3rd, 2015 at 4:10 pm | # |

      Gorgeous! Everything looks so fresh! I’m sure it’s so refreshing and tasty with the sauce. I click the image and the photo goes right side up!

      • Sara Alice joined 7/15
        Posted August 9th, 2015 at 1:00 am | # |

        Hmm, interesting. The photo is doing the same thing when I click on it too. Well at least people can see it properly when they click on the image.

  3. Oxide California joined 2/15
    Posted March 26th, 2015 at 1:42 pm | # |

    I made this salad last night — it is so good I ate 3/4 of it myself. It is quick and easy to make.

    I can see any leftover meat being used to make it, not just imitation crab. Cold, shredded chicken would be an excellent substitute for the crab in this dish, too.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted March 26th, 2015 at 4:34 pm | # |

      You are right! The sauce will go well with any ingredients!

      • Oxide California joined 2/15
        Posted April 7th, 2015 at 6:05 pm | # |

        I tried this salad substituting some leftover roasted chicken for the cram. It was absolutely wonderful! This is an excellent recipe.

  4. zestandherbs Plymouth, UK joined 9/13
    Posted September 27th, 2013 at 6:30 am | # |

    Is gyeojagaru pure mustard like the English mustard powder that we have in the UK, or does it have other ingredients added like salt or sugar? Besides kimchi, doenjang and gochujang, specialist Korean ingredients can be really hard to find, even online, in SW England!

    • Mikura New Haven, CT joined 6/09
      Posted September 27th, 2013 at 4:40 pm | # |

      Yes, Coleman’s mustard is a very close substitute for Korean mustard powder! I actually prefer it a bit more than the Korean or Japanese mustards. It has a slightly cleaner flavor, but the overall flavor profile is almost the same.

  5. lolizary USA, Fl joined 9/13
    Posted September 25th, 2013 at 10:35 am | # |

    Wow! This looks so yummy and easy!! Can’t wait to try it :)

  6. Zulumom Concord, CA joined 9/13
    Posted September 24th, 2013 at 5:30 pm | # |

    Oh. My. God. You make everything seem so easy! LOVE your tutorial!!! I’ve been viewing your blog everyday for the last few weeks and have been making a lot of foods using your recipes (today I made Soegogi Moogook)! I’m definitely going to try to make this salad! Right now I can think of adding some cooked squid to this salad too! My mouth is watering as I type this.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted September 26th, 2013 at 2:29 am | # |

      Adding some cooked squid is a fantastic idea!

      • BISHNU dubai joined 6/13
        Posted September 26th, 2013 at 3:53 pm | # |

        wow look very nice colourful yammmmm

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