A long time promised – and finally here it is! Our recipe for japchae, a magnificently multi-coloured noodle salad dish that is a must-have on any celebratory table. Though, like many Korean recipes, it is quite time-consuming, this extremely fragrant and flavoursome dish is well worth the time and effort it requires, and is guaranteed to evoke raptures from your dinner guests twice – once for it’s aesthetic beauty, and again for the myriad of textures and flavours it combines.
This dish is one that I can remember as being part of my life as far back as I can remember – made in large batches as part of any celebratory feast, it was either served on its own, on the side as just one of the many banchan (side dishes) or atop a bowl of steaming hot rice to form a meal called japchae bap (mixed noodles [on] rice). The sweet potato starch noodles (dangmyun) that provide the element of this dish which holds it together also make it quite healthy, being low-GI, and combined with the other components, it makes for quite a satisfying dish.
1pk/340g dangmyun/sweet potato starch noodles
2 medium brown onion, thinly sliced
8 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half, then cut into thin strips
120g spinach, roots cut off and rinsed twice to remove all dirt and grit
15g dried cloud-ear fungus (also sold as wood-ear fungus), rehydrated in boiling water
150g lean pork, thinly sliced
1/2 green capsicum (bell pepper) – cored and thinly sliced *optional
1/2 red capsicum (bell pepper) – cored and thinly sliced *optional
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tbsp caster sugar
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
*NOTE: To make a vegetarian/vegan alternative, replace the pork with firm tofu which has been drained/pressed and sliced into thin strips. Pan fry the strips in a little oil till they are firm and brown, then mix them through with the pork marinade and set aside till step 5.
1. Mix together the pork marinade and massage into the pork, then set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, set a pot of water to boil, then blanch the spinach for 1-2 minutes before quickly removing and refreshing in ice water (this helps them regain their bright verdant colour), then setting in a large strainer to drain.
2. Remove the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms from the boiling water and drain, then use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Cut out the woody stems then slice into thin strips and set aside. Drain the rehydrated cloud-ear fungus and then once again use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible, then add to the shiitake mushrooms put aside.
3. Heat a little light/mild olive oil in a frying pan, then add the strips of carrot and stir-fry till barely cooked – they should have a bit of tenderness but retain a kernel of crunch in the centre. Remove the carrot, then add the marinated pork to the pan and fry till browned and cooked through. Set aside.
4. Set another large pot of water to boil and cook the sweet potato starch noodles till al dente, then rinse in hot water and drain (unusual, but I find that rinsing them in cold water makes them take on a lot of moisture). While the noodles are draining, chop the blanched spinach into smaller pieces then use your hands to squeeze out as much moisture as possible – make sure to work in small batches as you’ll be able to squeeze out more water that way.
5. Get a large mixing bowl, then add the drained noodles and all the other ingredients. Mix together the noodle dressing then pour it over the bowl and use your hands to lightly yet thoroughly toss it through. Once is has been well mixed together, give it a taste – if it tastes too sweet for you, add another tbsp of light soy sauce, and if you find it too salty, add another tsp of caster sugar.
6. Serve warm, over rice or as a banchan/side dish.
[tags]japchae, Korean food, recipes, Asian, noodles, savoury, salad[/tags]