Kal Gooksu (Korean “Knife” Noodles)

If you’ve never had hand-cut noodles, you’re in for a real treat. There are various different versions. Some made with clams, chicken, beef, seafood; some spicy, some not, but all delicious.

An inexpensive dish to have in restaurants (usually just 5,000 to 6,000 won), it’s really easy to make at home, too. You can get the kal gooksu noodles in the refrigerated section of any Korean market (those taste better than the dried versions). Feel free to add any vegetables or meat thatyou like you like and put in as much chile paste as you want (or none if you don’t like it spicy).

Here’s a bowl of kal gooksu I had at a small joint in Daejeon.


It was the spicy version (obviously) – kick-your-butt spicy, but really delicious. The noodles were in a nicely red broth, topped with ssook (crown daisy leaves), gim (sliced sheets of seaweed) and ggae sogeum (ground, toasted sesame seeds). The noodles were uneven and slightly lumpy from being hand-cut, with the right amount of chewiness.

Then, the other night in Anmyeongdo, I had a bowl of bajirak (tiny clam) kalgooksu. At Baeksajang, a small seafood market up the road from Ggotchi Beach, where you can choose your catch from fresh sea creatures waiting in bubbling water. They’ll cook your catch for you, slice it raw or fire up the tabletop grill so you can cook it yourself.


The nice ahjuhsi here gave us some fresh seafood while we waited for our noodles. I’m not even sure what this sea creature was, but I believe it’s a relative of the crawdaddy. Messy to eat, but delicious!


Next time I’m here, I’m going to get a bunch of shrimp and cook it on the bed of sea salt they give you. So good!

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