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

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  1. Hanatsuki Planet Earth joined 1/22 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! Love this recipe, it’s a regular rotation at our house. Any chance you can post the garlic sauce for this? I love variations of the same recipe to keep things interesting.

  2. prograhamer Toronto, ON joined 8/17 & has 1 comment

    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.

  3. 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

  4. Oxide California joined 2/15 & has 47 comments

    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.

  5. zestandherbs Plymouth, UK joined 9/13 & has 1 comment

    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 & has 8 comments

      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.

  6. lolizary USA, Fl joined 9/13 & has 2 comments

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

  7. Zulumom Concord, CA joined 9/13 & has 35 comments

    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.

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