VIDEO| Recipe: Savor the flavor of Korea’s Japchae

Photos by ChiHon Kim
Photos by ChiHon Kim

VIDEO| Recipe: Savor the flavor of Korea’s Japchae

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

Japchae is usually treated as a side dish in Korean cuisine. But serve it over rice, and this savory and slightly sweet dish of stir-fried glass noodles and veggies becomes the showstopper it deserves to be.

Japchae is a traditional dish served on special days like Lunar New Year, weddings, birthdays and feast days. The delicious flavor and the ease of making large amounts of it at once make Japchae a hit.

In Korea, you’ll find that japchae involves a variety of seasonal vegetables, but the base standard ingredients are glass noodles, vegetables, meat and mushrooms seasoned with soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil.

The cooking process takes a little bit of strategy since the ingredients are sauteed separately then incorporated together at the end. Once you try it, however, you’ll know it was worth it. Add this Korean staple to your menu and you’ll see why it forms part of our special days!

- PREP TIME: 30 mins 
- COOK TIME: 15 mins
- TOTAL TIME: 45 mins 
- DIFFICULTY: Easy
- SERVINGS: 4

Ingredients

  • 250g Korean glass noodles (or Dangmyeon). This noodle is commonly available dry in packaged bundles and you can get this at any Korean grocery store. 
  • 100g porks or beef, cut into thin strips
  • 100g mushrooms (You can use any kind of fresh/dried mushroom - cleaned & thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms or wood-ear mushrooms)
  • 60g carrots, thinly sliced
  • 150g spinach, rinsed
  • 130g onions, thinly sliced
  • 50g spring onions, thinly sliced

Seasoning Sauce

  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/3 tbsp salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions 

1) Pre-soak the glass noodles in water for 30 minutes (Warm water can shorten the time). If you use wood-ear mushroom, pre-soak it for 30 minutes as well.

2) While the noodles are getting soft, cut all ingredients including veggies into long thin strips except for spinach. For meat, cut beef (sirloin, boneless short ribs or beef chuck) into 2-inch strips. I usually use pre-cut pork shoulder from the freezer section of a Korean grocery store. You can replace beef with chicken, pork shoulder, flat fish cake or even tofu. Personally, I like my japchae with fish cake more than with meat.

3) Boil some water with a pinch of salt and blanch the spinach for about 10 seconds, not much longer. (Trim the stem before blanching) Take the spinach out with a strainer and put them in cold water immediately. Gently squeeze out water from spinach and set aside with other veggies.

4) Boil some water in a large pot (or use the hot water that was used for the spinach). When the water comes to a boil, add the noodles and cook them until they are transparent and soft enough to eat, which should only take about two to four minutes (or, six minutes, if you skipped pre-soaking the noodles).

5) Rinse the noodles thoroughly with plenty of cold water to cool down and to remove the excess starch. This process gives noodles a bouncy texture. Then let the water drain for a couple of minutes. You may want to cut the noodles with kitchen shears into 3-inch lengths, as they can be very long. You can season the noodles at this step, but from my experience, I can't find any big difference marinating the noodle in advance or not. Pro tip: Toss the noodles with a small amount of oil to keep the noodles from sticking together and getting soggy.

6) Sauté the onion with a pinch of salt over low to medium heat until it softens (1-2 mins) and then place it in a large mixing bowl. Cook the rest of the ingredients separately in the same manner. Pro tip: Don’t overcook, the veggies should be a slightly crisp-tender texture.

7) Seasoning: Put all ingredients a big mixing bowl, including glass noodles. Add minced garlic and season them with dark soy sauce, sugar, ground pepper, sesame seeds, salt and sesame oil. Then, toss them gently to combine everything. After this step, fry some of the seasoned noodles with veggies over low to medium heat for 2-3 mins. Be careful not to overcook the noodles! Or you can just serve it without frying the noodles over heat if you like a clean and light taste. Pro tip: Finding perfect balance between salty and sweet flavor with soy sauce and sugar is a key for the success of this recipe.

8) Sprinkle sesame seeds and serve. Bon appetite or 잘 먹겠습니다! (Pronounced: jal meok-ke-sseum-nida)!

 

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