Spicy Korean Noodles from The Starry Kitchen Cookbook

Starry Kitchen’s been around as long as this blog and I’ve loved following them closely through all their various incarnations. I’ll go more into their history, and my close relationship to them, in an upcoming podcast with Nguyen Tran. In the meantime, I’m so thrilled to share this recipe from their new cookbook, Adventures in Starry Kitchen: 88 Asian-Inspired Recipes from America’s Most Famous Underground Restaurant – which releases today!

Spicy Korean Noodles from The Starry Kitchen Cookbook

Photo Credit – Bao Minh Nguyen

We tried their Spicy Korean Noodles when Button Mash first opened and I couldn’t get them out of my head. I thought they would make the perfect summer dish – cold and refreshing, with an unexpected tarty sweetness from the pickled watermelon.

My 100th Podcast episode is coming up and I’ll be answering questions – if you have any questions for me or Nguyen, ask them in the comments or by emailing me here.

Spicy Korean Noodles from The Starry Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 2-4 Servings


  • Watermelon rinds (from an average 7+ pounds of watermelon), thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt, for cleaning
  • 1/2 tablespoon Korean chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 3 cups Pickling Liquid (below)
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 3 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 3/4 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons gochujang (remember, no two cheap gochujangs are the same)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil*
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Korean chili pepper powder
  • 2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste
  • 8 ounces fresh ramen noodles or 11 ounces dry noodles (refer to Garlic Noodle recipe, page 25, for notes, options, and thoughts on other noodles)
  • 1/4 cup sauce
  • 1/4 Asian pear, julienned
  • 1/4 Persian cucumber, julienned
  • 3 scallions, julienned
  • 3 thin watermelon slices cut into triangles†
  • Pickled Watermelon Rinds (below)
  • Toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 1 soft-boiled egg (optional)


  1. Make the pickling liquid: In a pot, combine water, sugar, and salt over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Be careful not to boil. Remove from heat, add vinegar, and get ready to be the pickling prince or princess of your block, “Your Majesty!”
  2. Pickle the Watermelon Rinds: Passionately salt and massage watermelon rinds in a bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes. Next, rinse off salt and shake off all excess water. Place in a container that can handle boiling hot liquids. Add chili powder, cloves, bay leaves, and allspice. Bring Pickling Liquid to a full boil in a pot over high heat. Remove from heat and immediately pour over watermelon. Cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the wrap is flush across and pushed down onto the liquid surface so the (delicious) rinds are completely submerged. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Let pickle for two to three days before eating. Thank us via Twitter and Instagram sooner rather than later.
  3. Make the sauce: Combine ingredients in a bowl. Mix well until it all . . . becomes one! (Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! ) Cover and refrigerate.
  4. Then get ready to eat some cold noodle deliciousness . . . and bring a pot of water to boil over high heat! While waiting for that rolling boil, prepare an ice water bath in a bowl.
  5. Once you have a rolling boil, drop in noodles and cook until they’re al dente. Once they’re done, remove from pot, shake off excess water, and immediately shock in ice water bath for 2 minutes. Remove, shake off excess water, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Add sauce and mix. Once noodles are thoroughly covered, arrange in a bowl and garnish with pear, cucumber, scallions, watermelon, pickled watermelon radish, and sesame seeds, along with your Soft-Boiled Egg, yolk facing up . . . yummmmmmers!


From ADVENTURES IN STARRY KITCHEN: 88 Asian-Inspired Recipes from America’s Most Famous Underground Restaurant. Copyright © 201 by Nguyen Tran. Reprinted with permission by HarperOne, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers.