Noodles II: Chap Chae

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Once I presented this Korean dish at a party with many Chinese guests, and was told that it is actually very Chinese. The star is sweet potato noodles - I love their elasticity and affinity for flavours and how their translucence lets the bright vegetables shine through. (I don't love how they like to clump together in a big mass, but manoeuvering them is part of the fun.) Carrot, mushroom, spinach,onion and sesame are the classic flavours here. I added celery because I had some to use; you can easily leave it out or add other vegetables such as green peppers.

Start water boiling for the noodles and set aside . Chop one large carrot, two skinny stalks of celery, and four green onions into matchsticks; chop 2 large fresh or rehydrated shiitake mushrooms into thin slices. Chop half a bunch of spinach, or leave baby leaves whole. Chop 3 cloves of garlic and julienne 3 oz of beef. (Other options - can use thin slices of fried scrambled egg, or dried tofu. Beef works very well in this dish though, the flavour is really right.)

The meat and each vegetable has to be fried separately to start. This may seem like a hassle but the textures are important, and you want things to cook quickly in high heat. It really doesn't take that much more time than doing everything together and you can adjust the heat for each step. Start by frying the beef with the garlic and 1/2 tsp salt in a large frying pan or wok until cooked through; remove to bowl and add carrots to wok. Cook over high heat til carrots are tender but not soft and remove to same bowl. Follow by cooking onions - they will need only a few seconds - and celery. Blanch the spinach (can use the noodle water for this).

Boil 1/2 of a pound potato starch noodles for a couple of minutes until just soft; then drain and add to frying pan with other ingredients. Add2 tbs sesame oil, 2 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs white sesame seeds, and 2 tsp sugar. Stir together til heated through and flavours are blended. Serves 2-3.


heidi said...

I have had this dish at a Vegetarian Korean restaurant in NYC: Hangawi. LOVE it!

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

What are the ingredients in the sweet potato noodles you get? I love sweet potatoes in any form. (Had a sweet potato muffin for breakfast today!)

Pepper said...

Hi, they are just noodles made from sweet potato starch - they don't taste like much by themselves. It's a good noodle for people who can't eat wheat. You can find them in Korean or other Asian markets - thick, translucent, often greyish.