Sunday, October 16, 2016

I adore noodles. Whether it be rice noodles, egg noodles, soba, vermicelli or udon, in a soup, salad or stir fry, give me a bowl of them and I will be a happy girl. But, despite my deep love for noodles, the bizarre reality is that we don't eat them at home anywhere near as often as I'd like to. All that is about to change; I have finally found the perfect noodle recipe that is quick, easy and relatively fail-safe. 

Japchae is a Korean noodle dish in which sweet potato noodles are the main carbohydrate. These glassy, translucent strands are made from sweet potato starch, and have a uniquely chewy, slightly stretchy texture that takes on flavour really well. They're not quite as heavy nor as common as conventional rice or egg noodle varieties. The noodles are tossed in a sweet, savoury sauce of sesame and soy, along with stir-fried vegetables. 

The beauty of these noodles is that, as with any stir fry, you add just about any vegetable you have in the fridge. I like to add carrot, cabbage, and lots of mushrooms, as well as spinach or any other similar leafy green vegetable. 

The noodles can be picked up from most Asian supermarkets, and come dried in large packets. Soak them in cold water to soften before boiling for a short period of time. Although some recipes call for the noodles to be sauteed on the heat with the cooked veggies, I find it easier to simply dress them in the sesame-soy sauce, then mix in the veggies after cooking.

It's an easy, healthy meal eaten as is, but also makes for an ideal side dish to accompany barbecued meats. For a more substantial dish, you could marinate some thinly sliced beef or chicken in a Korean marinade of sesame, soy and sugar, then stir fry and add to the noodles. 

This recipe is really easy and fuss-free. Cook the noodles, stir fry the veggies, make up the sauce then mix it all together. It's very adaptable too - add more sesame oil, soy or veggies to your taste. Delicious whether eaten hot or cold!

Japchae Recipe
Adapted from this recipe from SBS food

  • 1/2 brown onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1/4 cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 shiitake mushrooms (button mushrooms are fine substitute, add more if you are a mushroom fiend)
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 400g sweet potato noodles
  • 80mL soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds, to garnish

  1. Soak the sweet potato noodles in a large tray or bowl or cold water for at least 5 minutes to soften.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Cook the soaked noodles for 5 minutes, then rinse under cold water and drain well. Transfer to a deep, wide bowl and cut into smaller lengths using a pair of scissors.
  3. Dissolve the sugar in the soy sauce, then add the sesame oil and mix to combine. Add this mixture to the cooked noodles and toss to coat.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large fry pan, then add the onion, carrot and cabbage and stir fry over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for another 3 minutes or until all the vegetables have softened.
  5. Add the cooked vegetables to the warm noodles and mix so that it's all combined, then garnish with sesame seeds and sliced spring onion. 

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  1. Love jap chae! Those chewy sweet potato noodles are so addictive!