I’m so glad that kimchi is starting to become commonplace in America. I guess it’s probably still the case that a majority of Americans haven’t tried the delicious fermented spicy cabbage mixture, but the good news is that you can at least find it in most supermarkets now. So, you can find the key ingredient for this Easy Kimchi Noodle Bowl!
It’s still probably the case that just finding kimchi and getting your family to try agree to try it (if they don’t already like it) will be the hardest part of these Kimchi Noodles.
Once you try the savory, spicy cabbage though, you’ll realize that you don’t need much else to make a delicious kimchi bowl.
What is Kimchi and Where to buy it?
Kimchi is a Korean condiment that is made by fermenting cabbage with salt and chili. It’s a very simple idea, but there are many different brands and levels of spice to kimchi. These days you can even find different vegetables labeled as kimchi, although cabbage is traditional and what I would recommend for this recipe.
If you are unsure of where to find kimchi, any Asian market is a good bet. Sometimes they will even have large jars of kimchi in the back near the deli where you can get as much as you want, by weight.
Most grocery stores these days will carry some brand of kimchi though so ask around. Generally it is in a refrigerated section of the store.
Even mild kimchi is relatively spicy so I recommend starting there if you haven’t tasted kimchi before. Personally, I always prefer the spiciest I can find, but for my family’s sake I opted for a slightly milder version for these noodles!
How to make the kimchi sauce for these noodle bowls.
Usually I think of (and eat) kimchi as either A) a snack right out of the damn jar or B) a topping on rice or noodles. But this recipe really capitalizes on the deep flavors of the ingredient by pulsing it in a food processor with a few other ingredients like ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, gochujang, and fish sauce to basically make a coarse dressing!
That alone is good enough to top on any noodle dish and call it a day, but to round out the bowl and make it more of a meal I also add a boatload of crunchy veggies to the mix.
This is a great intro to kimchi dish, but also if you have buckets of the stuff in your fridge already, I think you’ll find this a great way to use some of it!
The nice thing about this dressing is how not fussy it is. You toss all the stuff in a food processor and pulse it up until it’s in a coarse mixture. The key ingredient: fresh orange zest and juice. Don’t skip it!
What rice noodles to use for this recipe?
You can be flexible with the rice noodle you pick for these. Luckily, all rice noodles are gluten-free so if you keep the other ingredients gluten-free this will be a gluten-free recipe option.
I prefer a wider rice noodle or at least medium thickness. You don’t want something super thin like vermicelli.
You could also use soba noodles if you have those or that is your preference. Check out my guide on cooking perfect soba noodles!
After boiling, be sure to rinse the noodles with cold water and toss them with some sesame oil first. Then you can toss in all the kimchi dressing.
Finishing the noodles bowls
Toss the cooked and rinsed rice noodles with the kimchi dressing and mix this all together really well. Already this would be a great noodle dish with nothing else on it, honestly.
Then I like to mix in about 1/2 of my veggies and store the noodles in the fridge until I’m ready to eat.
To serve a spicy kimchi noodle bowl, I divide the noodles between bowls and top them with more vegetables like cucumbers, radish, green onions, sesame seeds, and maybe a dash of extra soy sauce or sriracha to taste. Your call!
The noodles work great as a light dinner, but really shine as a weekday lunch option in my opinion.
Fall in love with kimchi if you aren’t already!
Substitutions and Ideas
You could really add anything you wanted here! Here are a few easy ideas.
- Include a soft-boiled egg which I left out on this day, but would add if I wanted it to be a bit heartier.
- Add the sauce to some hot water to make a light broth to serve with the noodle bowls (more of a soup bowl option).
- Add more protein to the bowls with seared tofu, shredded rotisserie chicken, or even roasted pork loin.
- Change up the vegetables and garnishes. Sauteed mushrooms are a nice addition and chopped peanuts are a classic noodle bowl topping that would work well.
Easy Kimchi Noodle Bowls
- 8 ounces rice noodles
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 radishes, chopped
- 3 scallions, chopped
- Sesame seeds, garnish
- 1 cup mild or spicy kimchi
- 2 tablespoons kimchi liquid
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon gochujang
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 orange, zest
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- In a small food processor, add all the dressing ingredients, pulse until it’s in a coarse paste. Remove and set aside.
- Cook rice or soba noodles according to package (I prefer a medium width rice noodle). Then drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Toss with sesame oil to prevent sticking.
- Chop all the veggies and toppings.
- Add cooked noodles to a big bowl and toss well with the dressing mixture.
- Add 1/2 or 3/4 of the veggies (not sesame seeds or scallions) to the noodles and stir well to combine. Store noodles in the fridge until serving.
- To finish noodles top with rest of veggies, sesame seeds, and scallions.
- Season noodles with soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, or sriracha to your tastes.