Friday, February 24, 2012

Japchae - Korean stir fried noodles

     My sister loves Korean food but I'm not all hyped about it as she is. For her sake I allowed her to take me and my dad to this Korean restaurant she's been raving about for lunch. The food served was surprisingly too oily (I don't know if that's what Korean food should be, or they just put too much oil). I forgot what we ate but there was this noodle dish that was really good, and my dad and I instantly got hooked. It was Japchae, a sweet and savory Korean stir fry noodles that looked like bihon except that the noodles were bigger. Despite having just a few ingredients, the noodle itself was the star as it seem to absorb all the flavors. It was called cellophane or glass noodles, made of sweet potato starch.

     A few weeks ago my brother brought home a big bag of this cellophane noodles and as you can see a bag (1 kg) contains 3,400 calories. Not so figure friendly, as it's made of starch. But trust me, it's good. And as my brother is my brother who loves everything spicy, he made his version - well spicy.

     Luckily he only used half the bag and this morning I saw it lying around I thought I might give it a try. I didn't have the 'essential' ingredients though - shitake mushrooms, beef strips and spinach. But I made one anyway, using the vegetables available.

     Surprisingly, it turned out good. I didn't add a lot of sesame seed oil as directed as I didn't want it to be so oily, but despite that, I was happy with the results.

     This recipe is just trail and error, so I wasn't very particular with the proportions especially with the vegetables.

  500 grams cellophane (glass noodles)
  chicken breast (cut into strips)
  carrots (cut into matchsticks)
  sayote (cut into matchsricks)
  purple cabbage
  2 shallots
  3 cloves garlic
  4 tbsp brown sugar
  4 tbsp soy sauce
  2++ tbsp oyster sauce
  1 Knorr beef cube
  sesame oil
  sesame seeds (toasted)
  salt and pepper to taste

Cooking instructions:
  1. Marinate the chicken breast with enough soy sauce and 1 clove of garlic as you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Cut the noodles using a pair of scissors as they are long and stiff and may slide off the wok when cooking. Other recipes boils the noodles first, but for it to absorb a lot more flavor, I prefer to cook them with the sauce.
  3. Saute the onions until translucent, add garlic then chicken. Fry until the chicken in slightly brown.
  4. Add the carrots and sayote. Season with salt and pepper. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Mix.
  6. Add the cabagges. Stir fry for 1 minutes.
  7. Add 2 cups of water and the beef cube. Add in the noodles and mix until the noodles are covered with the sauce. Lower the heat and cover to allow the noodles to cook (5-10 minutes). Check and stir often.
  8. When the noodles are cooked add sesame oil according to your taste. 
  9. Top with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

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