Have you ever seen a dish on a television show that made you go “get in my tummy, right this instant”? I was watching an episode of the Korean drama Introverted Boss the other day and experienced just that. Most people forget about it and move on with their lives, but not me. Hwan Gi (the super adorable shy boss) was making what looked like the most divine dish on earth, and I HAD to try it. A quick Google search later I had the recipe for what he was making: japchae.
Japchae, apparently, is a Korean dish that often gets eaten for special occasions and is a hit at every potluck. Great, I had nothing to celebrate and I live alone, so surely it was a perfect match for me. A quick glance over the recipe instructions got me concerned, though. For starters, it was not vegetarian. But even more worrying: it seemed to require a LOT of effort.
But I’m dedicated to the cause! So on my day off from classes I set out to make this dish. I tracked down the right noodles (a crucial part of japchae) at my local asian supermarket, got all the ingredients, and started cooking. Two hours later I had delicious transparent noodles with a load of veggies. Full stomach, full heart, I fell even harder for Hwan Gi. Chae Ro Woon step aside, I’m coming for your man.
Adapted from Maangchi
Time: 90 minutes – 2 hours – Serves 4
- 200g shiitake mushrooms cut into thin strips
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 large egg (omit if vegan)
- 2 handfuls spinach, washed and drained
- 115g of dangmyeon (sweet potato starch noodles)
- 2 to 3 green onions cut diagonally into 5cm pieces
- 1 medium onion sliced thinly
- 4 to 5 white mushrooms sliced thinly
- 1 small handful of grated carrot
- ground black pepper
- vegetable oil
- Put the shiitake in a medium bowl and add 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Mix together by hand, cover and refrigerate.
- Separate the egg yolk from the egg white and whisk it together with a pinch of salt. Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to a heated non-stick pan. Swirl around and use a paper towel to get rid of any excess oil. Remove the pan from heat and add the egg yolk, spreading it thinly and evenly. Let it set for a minute, flip and let the other side set for another minute. Let cool and slice into thin strips.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the spinach and blanch for about 30 seconds. Remove the spinach from the water, rinse with cold water and squeeze out excess liquid. Cut it a few times, then add it to a large bowl.
- Cook the noodles in the same boiling water for about a minute, covered. Stir then cover and cook another 7 minutes. Strain the noodles and cut them with scissors a few times.
- Add the noodles to the bowl and add 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sugar. Mix well by hand or with a wooden spoon.
- Heat up a skillet over medium high heat and add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Add the onion, the green onion and a pinch of salt and cook until the onion is slightly translucent. Transfer to the bowl.
- Returning to the same skillet, add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and this time add the white mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 2 minutes until softened and juicy. Transfer to the bowl.
- Heat the skillet again and add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Add the carrot and stir fry for about a minute. Add to the bowl.
- Finally heat the skillet once more and add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook until heated, a few minutes. Transfer to the bowl.
- Add 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to the bowl and mix by hand.
- Mix in one tablespoon of sesame seeds and top with the egg yolk strips.