As I mentioned in the previous post, the only Korean dish I’ve made previously is japchae – a noodle stir-fry with veggies and shaved beef. I can’t remember when I first had the dish, it may have been at Raleigh’s International Festival a few years back. But however I happened across it, I found a great recipe and I made it again last week so that I’d have some photos to share, AND because it’s yummy!
A noodle stir-fry may not sound that interesting, but it’s all about the Korean vermicelli. You can buy these dried noodles in most Asian markets, they look almost grey in color. The ingredients simply say “sweet potato starch”. That’s right, these are sweet potato noodles, what a great find for a Carolina girl! These have a marvelous kind of spongy, chewy texture when they’re cooked… I don’t know quite how to describe that so that it sounds appealing, so I guess you’ll have to try them for yourself – and this is a good recipe to do it.
The recipe is not very tricky, just done in a few different steps. I’ll try to explain the steps in the proper order so everything works together in the end.
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
8 oz. frozen spinach
1/2 lb. ribeye steak or shaved beef
12 oz. sweet potato noodles
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. sesame oil
3 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp. salt
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly
1/4 c. sugar
Soak the shiitake mushrooms at room temperature for 1 hour in cold water. They float, so a great way to make sure they stay submerged is to put them in a ziploc bag with water, and remove all the air as you close it.
Thaw the spinach at room temperature, or blanch it quickly in boiling water to thaw it. You can use fresh spinach of course, but frozen tends to be more economical. Since the spinach gets nicely seasoned in the dish, I enjoy it with either type. Set aside to drain well and then squeeze dry.
If you are able to find beef that is already shaved (I found some at Food Lion), that’s the easiest option. Otherwise, use a ribeye steak and slice it thinly when half-frozen – that makes it easier to get a paperthin slice. The thinner the better, and you want to look for beef that has a good level of fat marbled into it, for the best flavor. Vegetarians: feel free to substitute tofu for the beef.
Boil the noodles for 4-5 minutes and then rinse them in cold water. Using a kitchen shears, cut them into manageable lengths – about 6-inches. Set aside.
Squeeze all the extra water out of the soaked mushrooms, and cut off the tough stems to discard. Thinly slice the mushrooms and set aside.
Ok – now you’re ready to go!
Combine drained spinach with 1 clove mince garlic, 1/2 tsp. of crushed toasted sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp. sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Set aside to marinate.
Stir-fry the onions, carrots, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. salt over medium heat for about 4 minutes, until nicely wilted but not browning. Remove from pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the noodles with remaining 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, 2 tsp. sesame seeds, and 1/4 c. sugar. Then toss in the beef mixture, vegetable stir-fry and marinated spinach. Put them back in the warm skillet and stir briefly to mix all the flavors together and dissolve the sugar.
Serve warm or at room temperature. If you have leftovers, you may be concerned when the noodles tighten up in the refrigerator. But don’t worry – the noodles will loosen nicely again when reheated. In fact, I almost enjoy this dish better the next day around.