Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Japchae - Simple and delicious

Japchae is the ultimate foreigners' dish. I honestly have never met a person in Korea that does not like this one. There are many varieties, however this dish is most often prepared with no meat at all. 

The dish is best made with Korean glass noodles (dang myeon), that are available at most Asian grocers (and every food store in Korea.) If you can't find the noodles, it is possible to use rice noodles, however it is not ideal.

Everything listed here is a mere suggestion, I really believe in cooking seasonally and so much of this might not be available when you are cooking. Choose fresh high quality veg. and you will not be disappointed. Also you will notice that I dislike the use of measurement by cups and spoons, use your judgment and cook to your own taste.
  • A good handful of Glass noodles
  • Splash sesame oil
  • Medium sized onion (Any type)
  • One or Two Carrots
  • A few shoots of Green onions
  • A good couple of handfuls of any type of mushroom (except button, check out an Asian grocer for the gnarliest looking ones as they often taste the best)
  • A few cloves of ground Garlic
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A handful of Spinach
  • Heavy splash of Soy sauce
  • A bunch of toasted sesame seeds
What to do:
Soak the noodles in hot water for a few minutes (15 or so), cook in boiling water until nice and soft. Test often as this depends on brand and method of production.

Cut up all the veggies into relatively small pieces, the harder veg. like the carrots should be cut quite small or even grated to ensure quick cooking. The only veg to leave out at this point is the spinach. Fry these up in a little bit of oil for 3 or 4 minutes. While still in the pan add a splash of soy sauce, a bit of salt and some hot pepper. Its super important to season each part of your meal.

Quickly stir fry the noodles with the spinach and some salt, pepper, more hot pepper (the ideal on is Korean pepper flakes 'gochu karu' due to the fact that they are not too spicy but add really deep flavour)

Dump the noodles onto a plate, put the precooked veg on top, give it a mix and you're done!

A final note
Be creative here, add green or red pepper, why not stick some sea weed in there? I often add cumin and coriander to the dish to tweak the flavour, alternatively I might toss some vinegar or lemon juice in along with some fresh cilantro. This is a dish that you can play with and be hard pressed to screw up. 

Give it a try and you will not be disappointed.

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