Japchae

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.

Ingredients, base:

  • 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 (more than you think).
  • 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.

Possible mix-ins:

  • Proteins:
    • 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.
  • Vegetables:
    • Carrot: julienne or cut into long, narrow strips. On low heat, in a small amount of neutral-tasting oil, sautee 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, sautee 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.

Toss all the ingredients together, using your (clean or gloved) hands to mix everything in real good. Best fresh, or enjoy within a few days of making.