Silky fried sweet potato starch noodles with a colourful array of vegetables - what's not to like? I'm a huge fan of Japchae but find it a tad overpriced in Korean restaurants here in Malaysia. It's around RM40 for a plate that normally serves 2!
So I've always wondered if I can successfully make this dish at home. With Maangchi's recipe in hand, I was determined to give it a try. Let's get cooking!
Serves: 3-4 pax
Cook & Prep Time: 45 minutes
*I didn't have time to make a grocery run so I used chicken instead of the usual beef or pork and skipped out on mushrooms and capsicum.
200g of boneless chicken thigh (ideally use beef or pork)
4 dried shiitake mushrooms (pre-soaked for at least 3 hours)
2 stalks of English Spinach
Half a medium carrot
Half an onion
4 baby corn
1 stalk of spring onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
150g of dangmyeon (sweet potato starch noodles)
Salt & pepper
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Cooking Directions :
1. Slice the chicken and mushrooms. Traditionally, these are sliced thinly but since I'm not using beef or pork, I kept the chicken slightly thicker as I dislike thin and dry pieces of chicken.
2. Mix chicken and mushrooms with half of the minced garlic (1 clove), a pinch of black pepper and sugar, 3 teaspoons soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Set aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
3. Quarter the baby corn lengthwise. Peel & julienne the carrot. Thinly slice the onions and white ends of the spring onion. Cut the green ends of the spring onion into roughly 7cm lengths.
4. Crack eggs and separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.
5. Boil a large pot of water. Blanch spinach for about a minute.
Rinse the spinach in cold water. Squeeze to remove excess water. Use scissors to make a few cuts and mix with 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Set aside.
6. In the same pot of water, add noodles and cook according to directions (mine took around 8 minutes). It should be soft and chewy - not al dente!
Strain the noodles, make a few cuts and mix well with 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Set aside in a large bowl or plate.
7. Heat a non-stick pan over high heat. Add a very thin layer of oil - best to use cooking spray if you have some. Season the egg yolks with a pinch of salt and mix well. Once the pan is hot, turn off the heat and add egg yolks. Spread it thinly with a spatula or by tilting the pan. Let the residual heat cook the egg (about 1 minute).
Flip and let it cook for another minute.
Roll up the egg and slice it into strips. Set aside.
8. You'll be using the same non-stick pan to cook the following separately (always start by heating 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil): -Add onions & white ends of spring onion. Cook until slightly translucent for about a minute. Add green ends of spring onion and stir for around 2 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt. Place on the noodles.
-Add baby corn and a 2 teaspoon of soy sauce. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Place on the noodles.
-Add the carrots, season with a pinch of salt and cook for a minute. Place on the noodles.
-Add chicken and mushroom mixture and stir for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked. Place on the noodles.
9. Add the remaining minced garlic (1 clove), 2 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and a pinch of black pepper to your bowl/platter full of ingredients. Mix well by hand.
*Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. I had to add more soy sauce compared to Maangchi's recipe so bear in mind that you might need to adjust as well based on the sodium content of your soy sauce!
10. Garnish with egg strips and toasted sesame seeds.
Ready to serve!
I'm glad it turned out as yummy as it looks (THANK YOU MAANGCHI)!
Cooking each component separately does make a huge difference. Aside from keeping the ingredients visually vibrant, it gives the dish a great variety of texture and crunch. But is it better with beef or pork? Of course. Red meat just adds more depth to the flavours. So I'll definitely be making this again with beef or pork. Nonetheless, quite a bit of effort is required to cut and cook the ingredients separately. Plus, dangmyeon (sweet potato starch noodles) is not that cheap. A 300g pack costs between RM15-RM20. If I consider the price of ingredients and cooking effort required, I might be more willing to fork out RM40 for Japchae at Korean restaurants next time. hah
Till the next cook, stay safe & makan well!