Even though I love eating food from all over the world, I feel as though I could cook food from Asia and never run out. That is because Asia is a huge continent. Almost 80% of the entire world’s population resides in Asia. It is also a very diverse continent, not only in culture and people but with food as well. Even though I grew up eating a lot of South Asian food (from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan), I love food from other parts of Asia as well. Korean food is one of the cuisines that I have really enjoyed the last few years. The sheer amount of side dishes that can be prepared is delightful and the taste range varies from spicy hot to fresh and mild. I especially love to make meals that are tasty, looks gorgeous and has lots of vegetables. Which is why I have been making a lot of Japchae lately. It is a Korean dish made with sweet potato noodles. I love the texture of sweet potato noodles, it is a lot like glass noodles or cellophane noodles (made with Mung beans) – it is slightly chewy, absorbs flavors well and can be eaten hot or at room temperature. This makes it perfect for picnics, pot lucks or summer days at the park. It is also a dish that can be easily made completely vegetarian by substituting Shittake mushrooms for the beef. I guarantee that if you make this for your next get-together, you will be the hit of the party. You can buy sweet potato noodles at most Asian markets or online. Here’s the method:
Korean style sweet potato noodle stir-fry
Serves 4 – 6 (depending on appetite)
4 – 6 ounces eye of round beef, cut into ¼ inch wide and 2½ inch long strips (The butcher can use a slicer to do this for you)
OR if you would like to make this a vegetarian dish, substitute dried Shittake mushrooms for the beef strips
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice syrup (can substitute corn syrup or raw sugar)
1 tbsp applesauce
½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
Mix all ingredients together. Make sure all the beef strips are well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp and 1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 large eggs
½ tsp rice wine
1 bundle of spinach, washed and drained
1 bundle of Sweet potato noodles or glass noodles
3 green onions, cut crosswise into 2 inch long pieces
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 -6 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
¾ cup julienned carrots (match sticks)
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
ground black pepper
salt to taste
oil as needed
- Crack the eggs into a bowl. Beat in a pinch of salt and ½ tsp rice wine with a fork.
- Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil to a heated nonstick pan. Swirl the oil around so it covers the pan, pour in the eggs and tilt the pan so the mixture spreads thinly. The eggs will cook quickly, about 1 minute. Flip the eggs over and let it sit on the pan for 1 more minute. Remove from heat, cool and cut into strips. Set aside.
- Bring a 4-5 quart dutch oven of water to a rolling boil. Add the bunch of spinach and blanch for about 30 seconds. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, take out the spinach and place in a large bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Squeeze out all the excess water. Season with 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil and mix well. Place in a large mixing bowl. Keep the water in the pan boiling to cook the sweet potato noodles.
- Break the noodles into 3 inch section and drop into the boiling water and stir. Cook for 5-7 minutes until noodles are nicely cooked, yet slightly chewy. Place the noodles into the large bowl next to the spinach and add 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Mix together while the noodles are still warm so all the flavors are well absorbed.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, when it begins to shimmer, add the onion, the green onion, and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry about 2 minutes until the onion are translucent. Place the onions over the noodles.
- In the same skillet pour another 1-2 tsp of oil then add the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Cook until mushrooms soften and begin to release a little water, about 1 minute. Add to the bowl of noodles.
- Heat up the skillet and add 1 tsp vegetable oil. Place the carrots and stir-fry for 30 to 40 seconds. Add the red bell pepper strips and a pinch of salt and stir-fry another 30 seconds. Transfer to the noodle bowl.
- Return the pan to the heat source for the final time and add 2 tsp of oil. Add the marinated beef (discard any extra liquid). Stir-fry until beef is fully cooked and no longer pink. Place the cooked beef in the noodle bowl.
In the noodle bowl add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and about 2 tsp of toasted sesame seeds and mix all together by hand. Top with additional toasted sesame seeds and egg strips. You can serve this at room temperature or hot. The noodles are very versatile.