Japchae is a popular Korean dish of sweet potato noodle, stir-fried in sesame oil with vegetables, meat and sweet-savory sauce. What I find unique with this dish and what I like most about it, is the translucent, slippery and elastic-like noodles made from sweet potato. It is definitely nothing like other noodles.
The process involve in preparing traditional Japchae means each of the ingredients will have to be stir fried separately then mixed together at the end which could be a lot of work if you ask me. I read that stir-frying the ingredient separately gives them an enhanced individual flavor, that is probably true but of course, if you are as impatient as me you will probably make a shortcut as well. And from the outcome of this dish, I could not really complain. It is as I remembered it from the Korean restaurants I (often) dined in back home. So it is either they are also doing some shortcuts or the difference between the methods are subtle that it can be ignored because it tastes so good anyway.
Beef is commonly used as meat and should be marinated for at least a couple of minutes before cooking. If you are planning to serve Japchae as a side to Beef Bulgogi, that would be practical because they are somewhat similar (in my opinion), thus, the same marinade for the Bulgogi could be used. The white and yellow garnishing you see in the pictures is egg: yellow is separated from white, both are scrambled, fried and cut into strips.
BEEF and MARINATE
- 2 big mushrooms - (shitake or champignon or wood ear)
- 1 medium carrot - - julienned
- 1/2 big red bell pepper - - julienned
- 1 medium onion - - sliced
- 2 stalks green onion - - cut into 1 inch length
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1 tablespoon sesame seed
- 2-3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Combine all ingredients for beef and marinate in a bowl. Mix using spoon or hand and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Strain and rinse with cold water. Remove excess water and place in a big bowl. Combine 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 teaspoon sugar and 2 teaspoon sesame oil in a small bowl and mix until sugar is dissolved. Toss this to the noodles and set aside.
- Heat up the skillet over medium-high. Add the beef (less excess marinating sauce) and stir-fry for a minute. Add the carrots and mushrooms and stir-fry for another minute. Add the onions and bell peppers and cook for another minute. Lastly add the spinach, green onions and the remaining sauce from marinate (if any) and the noodles. Fry for a few minutes until noodles are cooked about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seed and serve.