So when we decided to start a must–make recipe series, Jap Chae came to mind immediately, and I called our friend Saeri Yoo Park. Lucky for me, Saeri is the owner and executive chef of , a Korean restaurant just a few blocks from my house. How could I not ask her for a firsthand lesson in Jap Chae making?
When I showed up at the restaurant kitchen, Saeri and Chef John Kang had all the ingredients mised out. Containers of par-cooked sweet potato noodles, thinly sliced red and green pepper and onion (done stem to blossom end), perfectly julienned carrots that had been precooked, a feathery pile of shiitakes, wilted spinach, chive blossom stems cut into perfect 1 1/2 inch batons, squeeze bottles of soy and sesame oil. It was a riot of color that I couldn't help oohing over. Saeri explained that a traditional Korean meal includes dishes or garnishes of five colors, (green, red, yellow, white, and black) — the Korean version of balance a la five-a-day.
With all of this prep work done, Chef John heated a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wok until it smoked and then tossed in handfuls of onion, peppers and mushrooms. He added the other ingredients in quick succession, and in 5 minutes, the dish was plated.
So here's to a deliciously easy noodle dish that's weeknight friendly, too. (Note that without his super-hot wok and my translation to a family-size recipe, the stir-frying will take a few more minutes.)
P.S. Saeri says this dish is traditionally party food, where it is served at room temperature. You can add stir-fried pork or beef . I like it as above, or as Saeri also serves it: with a softly fried egg on top of each portion to be stirred in at the table. Bon appetit, or as the Koreans say, mas-issge deuseyo!
(adapted from Saeri Yoo Park at MOIM, Park Slope, Brooklyn)
- 12 oz. Korean sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon) or 6 to 7 oz. bean thread noodles
- 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- 5 oz. baby spinach
- 3 medium carrots (7 oz.), cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil
- 1 lg. onion (8 to 10 oz.) halved and thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 6 oz. shitake or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup chives or chive blossoms, cut into 1/12 inch pieces
- 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
1. Heat large pot of water to boiling. Add noodles; Cook, about 5 minutes or until al dente. Drain; rinse with cold water. With scissors, cut drained noodles 5 or 6 times to make them easier to stir-fry. Toss noodles with sesame oil and reserve.
2. Meanwhile, place spinach in bowl: cover and microwave on High, 2 minutes. Cool, then squeeze out any excess moisture.
3. Place carrots in medium bowl with 1 Tbsp. water and pinch salt; cover and microwave on High 2 minutes.
4. In small bowl, blend cornstarch with 1 Tbsp. water; whisk in egg until smooth. Heat 1 tsp. oil in 6 to 8 –in. nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add egg and tilt pan to spread in thin layer. Cook until completely set. Flip and cook 30 seconds. Transfer to cutting board to cool. Roll up jelly-roll-style and cut into very thin strips.
5. In cup, stir together all sauce ingredients.
6. Arrange all your prepped ingredients near the stove. Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in wok or deep 12-inch skillet over high heat until oil is very hot and shimmering. Add onion and red pepper; stir-fry 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in carrot, then noodles, then spinach. Stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Add sauce; tossing to coat ingredients. Sprinkle on pepper then stir in chives. Stir-fry until heated through.
8. Garnish with strips of egg and sesame seeds.
TELL US: What's one dish you've always tried to master? Maybe Susan can help!