Thursday, 27 December 2007

K-popped! Kitchen: Japchae

I must admit, when Liz, Orchid and I went out for our Korean lunch in Beijing, I snubbed the Japchae. “Japchae? Why, it looks just like Chap Chai (Chinese mixed vegetable dish). I want to try something special!

In contrast to the Malaysian Chinese Chap Chai (consisting of napa cabbage, fermented beancurd, beancurd sheets, glass noodles and a smattering of other veggies), Japchae has a fresher, less complicated taste. Hmm, I can’t help but wonder if the American Chop Suey is a variation on these dishes. Is it?

I wasn’t able to find Korean glass noodles, which are made from sweet potato flour, but I did find a Chinese glass noodle variety packet which had tomato, spinach, carrot and pumpkin glass noodles!

I couldn’t decide on which to use, so I used a little of everything. Besides, their mild flavours were indistinguishable to me anyway. These noodles are firmer (not chewy) and more opaque than the glass noodle made from mung bean flour. Perhaps these are closer in texture to the Korean glass noodle.

Anyway, less talk, let’s get to the good stuff!

Step 1: Ingredients!
Anything! It seems to me that Japchae is another dish that helps rid your fridge of vegetable odds and ends! The sauce and glass noodles make this dish. This is what I had in mine:-

Oops, glass noodles not pictured.
  • Glass noodles (about 1cup of cooked noodles)
  • Spinach, chopped
  • Beansprouts
  • Sliced red bell pepper
  • Sliced green chillies (fresh jalapenos)
  • Carrots julienned
  • Mushrooms - pictured here are enoki (or golden needle) mushrooms and sliced oyster mushrooms
  • Dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked until softened
  • Scallions chopped 1” in length
  • Minced ginger and garlic (save some for sauce)
  • Firm tofu sliced
In a small bowl combine 3tbsp light soy sauce, 1tbsp honey, 1tbsp sesame oil, 1tsp cracked black pepper, 2tbsp rice wine, 1tsp minced ginger, 1tsp minced garlic and 3tbsp hot water. Stir and set aside.

Step 2: Cook the noodles!
Boil glass noodles in water for 15 minutes (depending on the kind you get. Mung bean noodles take a shorter time to cook). Run cooked noodles through cold water and drain then set aside. I like to toss in some sesame oil to keep the noodles moist while it waits for me.

Step 3: Prepare the tofu!
Season with black pepper and a dash of salt. Pan fry with vegetable oil until golden brown. Set aside.

If you prefer meat instead you can use beef (cut into strips). Make a little extra sauce and marinate the meat for 20mins before pan frying. I bet chicken, squid or shrimp would work too.

Step 4: Stir fry!
On medium-high heat, add sesame oil into a wok or large skillet. When oil is hot, add minced garlic, ginger and oyster mushrooms. Toss for one minute then add the chillies, carrots, bell pepper, wood ear mushroom, spinach, scallions, enoki mushrooms and bean sprouts. Stir fry until vegetables are tender.

Add vegetables in order - hard to soft (e.g. carrots before bean sprouts) -
to avoid overcooked mushy veggies.

Once vegetables are tender, add the glass noodles, tofu (or meat) and sauce. Stir fry until sauce has coated ingredients evenly. Dish up and serve!

If Japchae still seems dry after adding the sauce, add some hot water.

Step 5: Eat!
Garnish with a sprinkle of toasted black sesame seeds and serve with hot rice. A quick, simple, guilt free meal!

More K-popped! Kitchen
Su jeong gwa (Persimmon Tea)
Tuna Kimbap
Kimchi Jjigae

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Clammy said...

Now, I can't cook at all but add more noodles. We make japchae en masse a lot (it's a staple for buffet style meals that have to feed a lot of people..) and it tends to be more noodles than anything else. Also, it's eaten frequently cold. I don't think you're suppose to reheat it either due to some sorta health reason.

kpop_rub said...

ooo it looks so dang delicious. I wish I had k-popped to cook for me. HAHA
Prepping everything is so hard to do for me... I like to do recipes on the fly xP

pauline said...

hi everyone and MERRY XMAS.
that recipe sounds good i am going to try it..i luv veggie dishes..yesterday i cooked KALBI Jim for the first time i will definetly make it a staple in my house...i had it with Jasmine rice which i luv....i omitted the hot peppers and used pepper sauce instead....ihope i spelled it correctly.

champong said...

wow, the finished dish looked so professional. you guys should consider opening up a restaurant...i would definitely eat there!

Orchid said...

Rooster, the Japchae looks good. Plus it sounds easy to do - just stir fry everything. Thanks for the recipe, will try it one of these days. =)

rooster said...

Clammy: Oh! Thanks for the tip. I actually left out some noodles because I thought it was starting to look like a noodle dish. Hee hee.

Yea, reheating just zaps all the nutrients, among other things.

Orchid said...

champong: Are you a Korean living in South Korea?

Clammy said...

Yeah, don't get me wrong, it tastes better hot and you should eat it hot, but because we make it in such quantities and it sits there for awhile, I've eaten it cold far more times than I have hot.

champong said...

orchid: no, i'm a south korean living in the U.S.

kpop_rub said...

You guys, I made this according to your recipe.. and since we have all of 5 asians in my town (i am exaggerating there are 5 asians families alone on my street but still there isn't much) those noodles were crazy hard to find! I ended up using Mung Bean thread noodles, also I didn't have rice wine and couldn't find all those variety of mushrooms but even so it came out absolutely delicious! I am so addicted!

Orchid said...

kpop_rub: Good for you! Glad to hear you tried the recipe and it turned out delicious!

You are very brave...after your choking experience, you still tried this dish. =) Eat carefully ok? ;-)


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