Learn how to make Korean style macaroni salad!
It is definitely not a traditional Korean side dish, but I seem to spot this dish as often as kimchi when I dine at a Korean restaurant these days. How about you?
What is Korean Macaroni Salad
Korean macaroni salad is Korean pasta salad side dish made with macaroni pasta. It is covered with creamy, rich, slightly sweet and mildly tangy mayonnaise based dressing.
When I was growing up in Korea, I used to spot this when I ordered Korean style Japanese pork cutlet – Tonkatsu (Korean name: 돈까스, Donkasu).
Here in Australia, many Korean restaurants seem to serve this as a complimentary side dish when you order a meal.
I personally don’t think there’s a huge difference between Korean style macaroni salad and western style macaroni salad, but maybe Korean style is less complicated to make, requiring fewer ingredients.
Also read: What To Serve With Macaroni Salad
You might be surprised to know that the salad even goes very well with plain steamed rice, and of course Korean BBQ dishes, to just name a few.
Other Ingredients Ideas
A Korean restaurant version of macaroni salad often only consists of basic ingredients such as macaroni pasta, julienned or shredded carrots and salad dressing.
However, a typical Korean home cook loves adding more ingredients than those. Most common ones include bell peppers / capsicums, cucumbers and corn kernels.
What’s more, the below ingredients can be used additionally or alternatively as well.
- red onions, cubed
- hard boiled eggs, cubed
- ham, cubed
- imitation crab, cubed
- apple, cubed
- cabbage, shredded
So be my guest and add whatever you like in this salad!
Finally, if you like Korean macaroni salad, you might want to check out my Kelp Noodle Salad and Korean corn cheese as well. They are delicious appetizers and side dishes.
Ingredients for Korean Macaroni Salad
- 200g / 7 ounces elbow macaroni
- 50g / 1.7 ounces cucumber, seeded & cut into small cubes
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 50g / 1.7 ounces corn kernel (from tin), drained
- 50g / 1.7 ounces red bell pepper / capsicum, cut into small cubes
Macaroni Salad Dressing
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (whole egg)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp ~ 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, adjust to your taste
- ground black pepper
- (optional) 1 tsp dijon mustard
* 1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml
How to Make Korean Style Macaroni Salad
1. Cook the macaroni pasta following the package instructions. (If the package does not suggest, I would recommend adding some fine sea salt when boiling the pasta.) Drain and cool down for 2 mins.
2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the salad dressing in a separate bowl. Also, separately, combine the cucumber and the salt (1/2 tsp) in a small bowl. Mix them well and set it aside until the remaining ingredients are ready. When ready, gently squeeze the water out of the cucumber.
3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins to develop the flavor. Serve.
How to Store Leftovers
While I love eating leftover foods in general, I don’t enjoy eating this salad as leftovers as much. Because, while it’s kept in the fridge, the pasta hardens, so the texture of the pasta feel a bit rubbery and a little bit undercooked.
But sometimes leftover food is unavoidable. If that’s the case for you, you can refrigerate the pasta in an airtight container. It should be good for up to 2 days.
Before serving, take out the pasta about 30 mins to soften a bit and give it a good stir. Also, if the sauce looks lacking, add a bit of mayonnaise to moisten the pasta again.
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For more information please see the list of What to eat with macaroni salad