Korean Japchae

The Korean dish japchae means mixed vegetables, stir-fried, according to wikipedia. Noodles are a modern addition to this ancient fare. I was inspired to revisit this dish when I stumbled upon a recipe for it on Rasa Malaysia. I used to prepare this dish frequently years ago, but I used vermicelli noodles. This adaption uses cellophane noodles called dangmyeon, which are made from sweet potato starch and are more authentic. They taste nothing of sweet potato and are a curious dark hue. They also carry the thin sauce quite nicely. We served this with a few authentic Korean accompaniments we picked up at T&T, sweet and sour radish, sweet squid, and, of course, kimchi.

Korean Japchae
Serves 4

8 ounces dangmyeon (sweet potato noodles)*
vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, very thinly sliced
1 can shitake mushrooms**
1 carrot cut into matchsticks
2 green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces, diagonally
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/4 pound beef tenderloin, sliced paper thin
small jar pimento pieces
salt

Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 heaping tsp. sesame seeds

Garnish:
1 egg

Method:
1. Cook the noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Heat a little oil in a wok and stir-fry the noodles for about a minute. Remove to a bowl.
2. Add a little more oil and stir-fry the beef for about a minute until desired doneness. Salt to taste and remove to bowl with noodles.
3. Add more oil if necessary. Stir-fry garlic for 30 seconds and then add the onion, green onion, carrots and celery . Stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the onion is tender and the carrots still have crunch. Add the mushrooms and pimento. Heat through, salt to taste and remove to bowl with the beef.
4. Whisk sauce ingredients together. Toss with noodle mixture. Use only enough of the sauce to coat the noodles but not so the mixture is soupy.
5. Whip up the raw egg and cook it in a thin layer in a pan. Cut cooked egg into thin slices and garnish each dish of japchae.

*Available at T&T and Asian markets
** Canned shitakes are available at Asian markets. I use canned because I like the flavour and they are perfect looking. You can use fresh (remove the stems) or dried (reconstitute in boiling water).

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