We had another nostalgic Korean dish last week when a friend of ours requested something a little more exotic, a dish called golbaengi muchim (spicy sea snail mix/salad). Though I am not a big fan of this particular dish, its request alone signals that some sort of drinking session would not be far off (party time). In Korea, this is usually consumed as anju (side dish with alcohol) such as beer or the popular soju (distilled rice/Korean vodka). Sadly, I remember always having to order an extra side dish while my friends continuously tried to persuade me to eat this dish. But it was all in vain; I just couldn’t (and still can’t) get over the idea of eating odd-looking snails from a can. As for the dish itself, it is simple to prepare as long as you have the main ingredients: canned sea snails (aka whelks), vegetables like shredded green onions, onion, and cucumber, mixed with a spicy sauce (gochujang) and other seasonings. We included some cold somyeon (thin noodles) which really brings more flavor and texture to the dish. As with most Korean dishes, it can get a little spicy and sour (from the vinegar), so adjust the amount of red pepper paste and sugar to remedy this problem. Although I pass the sea snails themselves to others, I do enjoy the spicy noodles with vegetables, which makes for a refreshing and satisfying appetizer with some cold brew.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes (noodles)
- 1 can golbaengi (sea snails/whelk)
- 6~8 oz. somyeon (thin noodles)
- 1 cucumber, cut into strips
- 1 small onion, cut into strips
- 1, 2 carrots, cut into strips
- 2, 3 green onions, cut into strips
- 3 tbsp gochujang (red pepper paste)
- 1 tbsp gochugaru (red pepper flakes)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp vinegar (cider vinegar or Mirin okay)
- sesame seeds (garnish)
- sesame/perilla leaves (optional)
1. Drain the liquid from the can and rinse the sea snails under running cold water for several minutes. Continue rinsing until bubbles dissipate or no longer appear.
2. Cut the sea snails into bite-sized pieces, or keep as is if larger pieces are desired. Prepare the vegetables accordingly by cutting them into 2-inch strips (see pics above).
3. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package directions, but make sure to add a generous amount of salt (1 tbsp). Rinse under cold water for a few minutes to prevent overcooking and drain. Sample a few noodles to ensure they are cooked, a little chewy but not too soft and mushy; they will not take longer than 5 minutes to cook through.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine 3 tbsp gochujang, 1 tbsp gochugaru, 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp vinegar, and minced garlic powder. Mix them all together with a tasting spoon until thoroughly mixed. Sample the sauce and adjust accordingly to taste preference.
5. In the mixing bowl, add the sea snails, sliced vegetables, and cold noodles. Mix thoroughly to coat (best to use gloves for mixing) and plate on a large platter or dish. Or, plating the noodles and sea snail mix separately is also okay (see pics). Enjoy!
*The sea snails can be bought at most local Asian or Korean markets along with the somyeon noodles.