Recipe for stir-fried Korean sweet potato noodles (jap chae)
Hello! Are you starting to think I’m turning Korean – what with my kimchi fried rice last week and now, another Korean recipe? No, seriously, I’m still very much oriental on the outside, rather reserved like the Brit that I am and a little less Malaysian each day on the inside with a stomach that’s missing the food of London but learning to adapt to what comes its way in Singapore. Basically, yes, I’m rather confused but hey, that’s me.
Where was I? Oh yes. Another Korean recipe. As I said in my previous post, I don’t have much experience with Korean food. I’ve just never really been properly introduced to it. But I’ve been to a couple of Korean restaurants now with my colleagues and what struck me at these meals was not so much the main courses we had but the side dishes that came with them. During one meal where we ordered a rice or noodles dish each, we had 7 side dishes to share between the 3 of us – rolled egg omelette, kimchi, spinach, potatoes, peanuts, baby anchovies and spring onions!
What I was most interested in replicating at home is not shown in the photo of our meal above, but is something which I’ve had at other Korean meals – Korean jap chae. This dish is made up of Korean sweet potato noodles, also known as ‘dangmyeon’ in Korean, and generally stir-fried in sesame oil with julienned carrots, thinly sliced mushrooms, spinach and marinated beef. Traditionally, each vegetable and meat topping is cooked separately and then mixed together with the noodles in the end. The noodles have a texture unlike any other I’ve ever had – springy and chewy with just the right amount of bite, if cooked properly. It’s tasteless on its own and absorbs the taste of the toppings and seasoning mixed in.
I’ve made my version here meatless. Kimchimari made hers with beef and in the traditional way – she’s also got a great blog full of Korean recipes which I’ve been exploring.
Hope you’ll enjoy this easy dish and have a great week ahead!
Korean jap chae
What you’ll need
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 teaspoons sesame oil
- 100g dried Korean sweet potato noodles
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
- 1 large carrot, julienned
- 3 stalks of spring onions
- 4 tablespoons of reconstituted wood ear mushrooms, sliced thinly (alternative: shittake)
- 150g baby spinach, washed well and drained
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
How to cook your jap chae
- In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, sugar and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil together. Set aside.
- Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to packet instructions, 7 minutes on mine, or until the noodles become clear.
- Drain immediately, rinse in cold water and drain again. While the noodles are still warm, toss with the remaining sesame oil so they don’t stick together. Cut the noodles into shorter pieces so they are easier to eat. Set aside.
- Heat up the oil in a wok on high heat. Fry the garlic, onions and carrots until just softened. Add the spring onions and mushrooms, and continue frying for another minute or so. Then add the spinach, soy sauce mixture and noodles. Fry for another 2-3 minutes until the noodles have soaked up the sauce and flavours of the other ingredients. The noodles will turn a little brown in colour.
- Plate up the noodles and garnish with the sesame seeds. Toss and enjoy!
Yields 2 generous servings as a main course or 4 side servings