How to Eat Korean Fire Noodles
So you want to learn how to eat Korean Fire Noodles? While you’re probably familiar with the basics, there are a few things you may not know about Korean noodle-eating culture.
From the actual ritual of eating noodles to cooking them in unusual, yet commonly practiced methods in Korea to the specific bowls used for consuming noodles, we have compiled some must-knows below.
I’ll dive deeper into each of the parts and you should come away with some fun facts and knowledge to improve your noodle-eating experience.
Understanding the SHLURRP
First off, you must get acquainted with the ubiquitous ‘shlurrp’ and ‘shloop’ sounds associated with Koreans and noodle eating. Walk into any busy noodle shop, and these sounds will echo through the air.
They go hand in hand with noodle-eating culture.
So, how can I explain the sound?
Imagine, you’ve just put the ends of 2 or 3 strands of spaghetti in your mouth. While holding them steady with chopsticks or a fork, you gently suck the noodles into your mouth like a vacuum.
You would’ve heard the ‘shlurrp’ sound I’m referring to.
It doesn’t matter where you’re enjoying noodles, you’ll come across this phenomena.
Whether you’re at a local street shop, a high-end restaurant, at home, or with colleagues, the slurping sounds will follow.
It may seem like a rude gesture to make this noise while eating, but in Korean and other Asian cultures, it isn’t. So, don’t be afraid to try it out next time you’re eating noodles!
Now that you understand what the sound refers to, let us explain another aspect of how we commonly eat a bowl of noodles.
Chopsticks replace forks in the Eastern Asian cultures for most food items where a fork would be the standard utensil.
This is especially true for noodles.
If you’ve never used a set of chopsticks before, it takes practice.
There are plenty of tutorial videos and guides on the best ways to use chopsticks.
Once you get the hang of it, I think you’ll find that using chopsticks to eat noodles is effective and convenient!
Similar to the way forks are used to eat pasta in Western cultures, Koreans twist noodles around their chopsticks.
This helps get bigger portions in one attempt and speeds up the eating process.
Another common method of eating with chopsticks is to ‘push’ more noodles into the mouth without biting them off or breaking them.
To visualize, imagine you’ve put a bunch of noodles into your mouth. As you chew with the ends of those noodles still hanging out of your mouth, you grab and push the rest of the noodles into your mouth with your chopsticks.
If you eat an entire bowl of noodles using this method, you’ll empty that bowl in no time at all!
The Lid Bowl
With the noodle cup/bowl packages of Korean noodles often found in convenience stores, it’s self-explanatory how to eat them. However, there is one technique that may surprise you.
Once your noodles are ready for eating, you may find it difficult to cool down the noodles before putting them in your mouth. To combat this, you’ll sometimes see Koreans using the lid of the packaging as a make-shift bowl.
If you remove the lid, you can fold it into a cone shape.
This is used to catch any broth, sauce, or noodles that might fall while you let them cool down before eating.
This is very similar to the way many Koreans share a pot of ramen at home.
Rather than everyone trying to eat over the same pot, family members (or friends) use smaller individual bowls.
These smaller bowls allow the noodles to cool quickly and prevent the tabletop from getting too messy as people carry noodles to their mouth.
The River Method
If you’re in Seoul and visit the Han River, which we recommend, you’ll notice that most people aren’t eating noodles out of the packaged cups/bowls.
The convenience stores along the river offer a neat alternative to the typical bowls you’ll find elsewhere.
These convenience stores supply customers with aluminum or tinfoil trays, hot water, and boiler plates for cooking the larger packages of ramyeon to enjoy by the river.
Since the Korean fire noodle varieties require you to pour out most of the water when preparing, it is best to enjoy other types of ramyeon along the river.
The Soldier Method
If you’ve got limited resources, but are craving a package of noodles, there’s a last resort method for eating.
Before we explain it, we must warn you to use this method at your own risk. Depending on the temperature of the water you have access to, this could get dangerous.
Essentially, you cook and eat the noodles from the bag they came in using the hottest water you have available. Soldiers often don’t have the facilities or resources to prepare the noodles as the package suggests, so they have to improvise.
Keep in mind that unless you have access to boiling water, you’re noodles probably will not be fully-cooked. However, you can get close if the water is hot.
So, all you have is your noodle pack, and chopsticks (or a fork). Open one end of the noodle pack, remove the soup powder packets and keep them on standby to empty into the noodle pack later on.
Find the hottest water available, and pour it into the noodle pack carefully. You want just enough so you can still hold the open end of the noodle pack closed with your hand.
Wait a few minutes, stir up the noodles to loosen them, and repeat the water part (fill with hot water again).
After you’ve waited again, check the noodles with the water still inside the pack. When the noodles are soft enough to eat, empty the contents of the powder packet into the noodle pack, stir, and enjoy.
If they’re stir-fry noodles like Korean Fire Noodles, then you’ll be emptying 90% of the water before you put the powder in to mix it up. The extra 10% of the water will help mix with the powder to create the sauce.
Although you have to be careful, the idea you’re able to prepare and eat a pack of noodles wherever you are is neat!
It’s common practice for Koreans to finish their ramen noodles rather quickly.
Everything about ramyeon in Korea is quick and convenient, so it’s no surprise that the eating process follows suit.
Use your chopsticks to grab a healthy portion of noodles. After the noodles have reached your mouth, proceed with the ‘shlurrp’. From there it’s chew, swallow, and repeat.
If you’re concerned about the noodles being too hot (temperature-wise), you’d be surprised at the cooling effect the ‘shlurrp’ has. However, you want to be careful not to burn your mouth, so use the lid bowl method above if they are too hot.