Japchae is a Korean favorite that can be eaten warm or cold, as a side or main, and is easily modifiable depending on what you have on hand and what you can and cannot eat. You can find a traditional recipe, including more detailed cooking steps and a video, here courtesy of Korean chef Maangchi.
- Dangmyeon – sweet potato starch noodles, 1-3 bundles depending on batch size and ingredient proportions: cook as indicated on package, then drain. Drizzle with sesame oil to prevent clumping, then season with soy sauce to taste (you’ll need to use way more than you think before they start tasting good).
- Scallions, up to 1 bunch: wash, cut into ribbon-like strips. On low heat, in a small amount of neutral-tasting oil, sautee for about 45 seconds to mellow the taste of the scallions.
- Egg: beat to mix yolk and white, fry in a thin sheet, then cut into narrow ribbons.
- Beef: marinate ahead in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger for some hours, then cook on medium heat, cut into small bite-sized strips.
- Firm tofu: drain block and cut into small bite-sized pieces. Over medium heat in a moderate amount of oil, pan-fry tofu so that the outside crisps and turns golden on several sides.
- Carrot: julienne or cut into long, narrow strips. On low heat, in a small amount of neutral-tasting oil, sauté with a small amount of minced garlic for about 2 minutes to soften the carrot.
- Shiitake or other mushrooms: slice into thin cross-sections. On low heat, in a small amount of sesame oil, sauté with a small amount of minced garlic for about 2 minutes until the pieces are cooked through and the meaty flavor of the mushrooms come through.
- Spinach: Parboil for 90 seconds, drain, toss in a splash of sesame oil.
- Pretty much any vegetable you like, either parboiled or lightly stir-fried as above, using your cooking intuition. The beauty of this dish is that it’s a process and the more flavors you like the merrier!
Toss all the ingredients together, using your (clean or gloved) hands to mix everything in real good. Best fresh, or enjoy within 1-2 days of making.