Friday, March 30, 2012
Jap Chae / Chap Chae - Korean Glass Noodles
Korean Chap Chae or Jap Chae (pronounced chop chay) is one of my all time favorite foods. My husband lived in Korea for a time before we met and he really enjoyed the foods he ate there. So, naturally, he introduced me to these foods when we started dating. I discovered Chop Chae years ago (on one of our first dates!) and I have never ordered a different thing off a Korean menu since then. I might sample my husband's dishes occasionally, but when I say that I love Chap Chae, I mean I LOVE it.
The thin clear noodles, the warm and crisp vegetables, the perfect sticky sauce. I love everything about this dish and it is a rare thing if I am willing to share my restaurant leftovers. I decided to try making it at home and I am so glad that I did! Our favorite restaurant in NM is a family owned small hole-in-the-wall place where the family sits in the dining room and cuts homemade rice noodles in the early afternoon. I've yet to find anything that truly compares with those thick clear noodles, but store-bought glass noodles come close. I found these noodles in a local grocery store. I didn't even need to look for them at the Oriental Market, although I plan to do that soon. I can't wait to see what other varieties are available for future dishes!
Jap Chae is a classic Korean dish. It is served both with and without meat. This is the simplest of versions, but I can hardly wait to try some different variations in the near future. I can not believe how incredibly simple it was to recreate this dish at home! Every member of my family enjoyed this meal and my middle son declared this his new favorite noodle dish.
Jap Chae/Chap Chae - Korean Glass Noodles with Vegetables
recipe adapted from Beyond Kimchee & Steamy Kitchen
Yield: 4-5 servings
5-8 oz glass noodles (aka potato starch noodles - although they taste nothing like potatoes) I used a 5 oz package and it was plenty of noodles for this dish.
3 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon light flavor olive oil
3/4 cup thinly sliced onions
2 medium size carrots, very thinly sliced into 2" matchsticks
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 stalks of green onion, cut into 1" lengths
1/2 cup thinly sliced baby bella or crimini mushrooms
1/2 lb spinach washed and drained well, I used a large bunch of Japanese spinach, stems removed and chopped bite size. Baby spinach leaves would work as well.
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons sugar
Optional: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and boil just 5 minutes. Immediately drain them and rinse them well under cold running water, massage them gently as you rinse them. Let them drain in a colander and then use your kitchen shears to cut the noodles into smaller pieces. I simply lifted handfuls of the noodles up and chopped them into roughly 8-10" lengths over a separate bowl. Drizzle the now cooled and cut noodles with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and set them aside.
Please note: This is a FAST stir fry method. High heat and constantly tossing your ingredients with a wooden spoon or tongs. The whole process will take less than 5-6 minutes, so you will need to have everything set to go before you turn on the heat.
In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce and the sugar. Set that aside next to the stove. Add the olive oil to a very large skillet or wok and set the heat to high (adjust as necessary, if your oil begins to smoke, turn it down just slightly). When the cooking oil is hot, but not smoking, add your carrots and onions. Stir fry them until barely softened, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, green onions and garlic all at once and stir fry that for about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and the soy sauce mixture and toss to combine. Add the noodles and stir fry, tossing constantly to combine, for just 2-3 minutes, until the noodles are cooked through and hot. Turn off the heat and add sesame seeds if desired. Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and toss to coat. Enjoy!
Side note: I pulled my pan off the heat for about a minute while I added the noodles. I'm new to rapid stir frying like this and I just wanted to make sure it wasn't going to burn before I manged to combine it all thoroughly. Simply add another minute or so to your time if you do the same.