Fluffy buns filled with a (slightly) spicy vegetarian filling made with chewy Korean noodles, napa cabbage and carrot.
I don’t know why but I don’t make homemade bread very often. Maybe it’s because my current kitchen is too small for proper bread kneading. However, a few weeks ago I got this crazy idea for buns with noodles in my head. The buns were inspired by vegetarian hotteok I had in Seoul a few years ago. Hotteok are fried stuffed pancakes. The ones I had, were stuffed with veggies and noodles. As I was craving that filling in a bun I decided to do some experimenting in my kitchen. If you love veggies, these buns will totally become your thing.
The first batch I made had way too much noodles. Although I love my carbs, these first buns were too heavy. I used about half a package of noodles and that was too crazy. The buns needed more veggies. So I upped my veggies and lowered (halved!) my noodles. In addition, I felt like the buns lacked a “Korean flavor”. And as you might know, red pepper paste (gochujang) is a very common ingredient in Korean cuisine. So I added some gochujang too and created these beautiful vegetarian spicy noodle buns. And don’t worry if you’re not really a pro at eating spicy: you can easily adjust the level of spiciness. Nothing to be ashamed of. I’m no hero when it comes to spicy food either (I know, I must be a fake Asian..) For me, 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes was just spicy enough to handle. I think my boyfriend would’ve preferred 2 teaspoons though. (He likes eating fire noodles.)
Because the filling contains so much vegetables, it’s important to draw water out the vegetables before using it as a filling. To draw out water, mix the vegetables with plenty of salt and let it rest for 10 minutes. After resting, carefully squeeze out excess water and rinse the vegetables thoroughly. Don’t skip this step because it will prevent your buns from turning into a soggy mess. I only used the green(ish) parts of the cabbage because I feel like the white parts are a bit too bitter for these buns. If you don’t mind a (slightly) bitter flavor, you can use the white parts too.
Finally, I used my favorite bread dough for this recipe. I hardly ever use any other bread dough. This dough is perfect for sweet recipes like custard buns but can easily be used for savory dishes like these noodle buns too. Obviously, my own recipe is my all-time favorite. However, if you have your own favorite fluffy dough recipe, feel free to use that. I’m sure it will be just as good.
- 1 Basic fluffy bread dough*
- 3/4 medium napa cabbage, roughly chopped
- 100 g carrots, julienned
- 1 large onion, diced
- a small bunch of chives, finely chopped
- 50 g Korean potato starch noodles (Damyeon), cooked
- 60 mL soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes**
- oil for cooking
- 1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)
- In a bowl, combine the cabbage and carrots with about 1 tablespoon of salt. Let it sit for 10 minutes to draw all the water out.
- Squeeze out excess water. Then, rinse and drain. Set aside.
- Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan to medium-high heat.
- Sauté the onions and chives until fragrant.
- Add the noodles, soy sauce, sugar, Gochujang and red pepper flakes. Toss until combined.
- Add the noodles to the cabbage mixture. Toss until mixed evenly.
- Divide the bread dough in 8 equal pieces. Roll out a piece of dough and fill it royally with the filling mixture. Close the dough and roll into a ball. Repeat for remaining pieces of dough.
- Proof the buns for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Brush the buns with eggwash and bake 18-20 minutes at 180C or until golden brown.
- *You'll need about 1,5 hours extra preparation time for my basic bread dough. You can also use your own bread dough recipe.
- **Depending on desired level of spiciness.