Have you ever heard of japchae? I hadn’t, until I was standing amongst boxes and bags of noodles at the Asian section of my grocery store. I was intrigued by a small tube of sweet potato glass noodles. I am always on the lookout for gluten free noodles, as I try to limit my gluten intake as I tend to have an inflammatory reaction if I consume too much. On the package of the sweet potato noodles, there was a recipe for japchae, which was compromised of stir fried vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, squash), tossed with a simple soy and sesame sauce, served with thinly sliced beef. Sold! Once I got home, I did a little research into japchae, and immediately added it to list of must make dishes.
I am so glad I did! Japchae is a dish that is typically served at parties and special occasions. It is so flexible! Can be served hot or cold, as a side dish with just the veggies and noodles, or served as a main dish, topped with meat, seafood or tofu, like I did here. You can use any vegetables that you have in your fridge, or that are in season. I used baby white mushrooms, julienned carrots, and napa cabbage, topped with scallions and sesame seeds. You can use any vegetable that you would use in a stir fry – bell pepper or green beans would be delicious here! I went veggie-heavy as per usual, but you can scale down or up to suit your ingredients and your preferences.
These noodles are treated in a similar fashion to rice noodles. Soak them in warm but not boiling hot water for 30 minutes, and then once ready to use, you will cook them in boiling water for 30 seconds, and then add to the pan with the vegetables, beef and sauce. These are the brand of noodles I used:
As a bonus, this dish is incredibly travel friendly. It can be eaten hot, warm, room temperature, cold, you name it! I particularly enjoyed it straight out of the fridge; the flavors had time to meld and the texture of the noodles was best when cold. Enjoy this Korean specialty, all!
japchae with beef.
4 ounces sweet potato glass noodles
1/4 cup low sodium tamari
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup napa cabbage leaves, sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, light and dark parts, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
8-10 ounces top sirloin or flank steak
Soak noodles in room temperature water for at least 30 minutes. Cook in boiling water for 30 seconds, and drain. Run cool water over the cooked noodles to stop the cooking process and then toss with a half a teaspoon of sesame oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
Combine tamari, coconut palm sugar, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside 2/3 of marinade. Use the remaining 1/3 to marinate the steak for at least one hour, but can leave up to 12.
To cook steak: Heat a grill or grill pan over medium high heat and sprinkle the steak with black pepper (no salt needed as the tamari is salty). Cook 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare, 5-6 minutes for medium/medium well. Remove, and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice very thinly against the grain. Set aside.
Heat the hot chili oil and grapeseed oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrots and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, and then add the cabbage and mushrooms. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes longer, just until vegetables soften slightly and get color to them. Add the steak, noodles and reserved marinade and reduce heat to medium, stir frying everything together for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Plate on a large serving bowl/platter, and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve immediately, or chill prior to serving.