Japchae, or cellophane noodles, are one of my favorite Korean dishes. I thought of posting this recipe because I discovered a great Korean buffet this week. Yum.
This recipe I used comes from NPR. Finding the sweet potatoes noodles was a bit of a revelation…it really made it taste right. I found them at a Korean market…if you can’t find them rice noodles might not taste correct, but they will taste awesome.
What you need:
1/2 to 3/4 pound beef sirloin (about 1-inch thick)
6 or 7 dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 pound Korean sweet potato noodles
1 bunch spinach, washed and trimmed, or 1/2 pound baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon hulled white sesame seeds
1 small yellow onion
2 medium carrots
4 green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
First, stick the beef in the freezer while you’re getting the rest of the ingredients ready. This will make slicing it easier later. If using dried mushrooms, soak them in hot water, weighed down with another bowl nested inside so they stay under water. Put the noodles in hot water too; they take about 10 minutes to soften.
Toast sesame seeds, either in a toaster oven or in a skillet….don’t let them burn!
Cut onion into very thin slices and cut carrots and scallions into matchsticks. Squeeze out reconstituted mushrooms, keeping 1/4 cup of the liquid. Remove the stems and slice into thin strips.
Take out the beef and cut in half lengthwise to get two pieces that are half an inch thick. Then, slice against the grain into strips about 1/8-inch thick and about 2 inches long.
Whisk together garlic, soy sauce, sugar and oil for the sauce. Spoon a few tablespoons of the sauce onto the beef and toss. Add the mushroom juice to the sauce.
Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. When hot, add half the peanut oil (1 1/2 tablespoons) and the onion, carrots, scallions and mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until just tender. Push off to one side of the pan.
Add a little more oil, swirl to coat and add the meat in a single layer at the bottom of the pan. Let it sit briefly to brown, then stir everything together and push to the side again.
If needed, add more oil, then toss in the drained noodles. Mix everything in the pan together and add the sauce. Finally, toss in the spinach and sesame seeds and serve.