109: North Korea: Naengmyeon (Cold Soba Noodles in Cold Beef Stock)

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North Korea, by far the most isolated country on earth! North Korea has been the subject of speculation for years. And I really don’t want to get into it too deeply since we all know the North Korean regime is horrifyingly cruel.

A leader starving his own population to prove a point is among the evilest things someone can do in my opinion. Over the past few weeks, they have been in the news negatively for trying to poke the bear (The US and Europe)… with several threats of nuclear war.

Let’s all pray it doesn’t come to that! But how did North Korea become like this? And why is it that South Korea is far more prosperous? How did the rest of the world let it get this far? Should we intervene or should we call their bluff? These are all questions that keep a lot of people up at night…

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Things you didn’t know about North Korea:

  • Taedonggang is now the most well-known beer in North Korea, named after a river that runs through Pyongyang. There’s a beer ration—men get vouchers every month. This is not necessarily a nationwide policy but is the case in Pyongyang. But you can buy more; the ‘ration’ just means you get given vouchers, rather than your consumption is limited. The Taedonggang beers have numbers for names: One is made of barley, water, and hops, and tastes good. Two is the most common, with barley, water, hops, and a bit of rice. There is a 50-50 barley-rice mix. Four is more rice, and Five is rice beer. Five is repulsive.
  • Marijuana in North Korea is not illegal and can be bought at markets.
  • During the 1990s, all teachers were required to learn the accordion.
  • North Korea bases its calendar on Kim Il Sung’s date of birth: 15 April 1912. The year is 105, not 2017.
  • Blue Denim Jeans are illegal in North Korea as denim represents capitalist America.
  • According to his official biography, Kim Jong Il allegedly learned to walk aged 3 weeks.

That’s the classic North Korean dish, called naengmyeon in Korean. So classic there’s a song about it: “Naengmyeon, naengmyeon, Pyongyang naengmyeon!” Music is a form of propaganda, so to mention food gives people a sense of national pride and also shows security in food. “Long noodles refer to long life, or a long time being married. Everyone at a wedding gets served cold noodles, and the idea that you would say, ‘No noodles, thanks’ would be exceedingly rude.” However, I have to say it was not my favorite dish.

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This recipe is for 2

Ingredients:

  • 80 gr of steak cut in strips
  • 800 ml of beef stock
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 200 gr soba noodles
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 pear cut into matchstick size pieces
  • 2 soft boiled eggs
  • cilantro
  1. Boil the steak in stock for 3 minutes on a medium
  2. Take the stock off the heat and season with the soy sauce and vinegar. Let the stock cool down.
  3. Cook the soba noodles according to instructions on the pack. Once cooked, put them in cold water to cool them down.
  4. Serve with the soft boiled egg, cilantro, and pear

One thought on “109: North Korea: Naengmyeon (Cold Soba Noodles in Cold Beef Stock)

    Maartje Pessers said:
    September 18, 2017 at 20:21

    Very original Margot, I will try.

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