Let There Be Japchae

I’m pretty awesome. Yeah, I just said it.

Why? Why? What in the world could I have possibly done that would have me claim such a bold exclamation?

Wait for it…

After biking to the Korean market early and then to the farmer’s market to pick up fresh veggies early this afternoon, I spent the next 2 hours chopping things into tiny matchsticks, frying a boat load of goodness and then mixing it all together with hot noodles. For my second attempt at cooking in recent history (aka 1 year+) I made japchae (잡채) and the results are nothing short of amazing. Seriously.

The noodles aren’t too oily; just sticky enough to be easily eatable, the vegetables are all cooked but still retain their original flavors and textures while existing in reasonable quantities. Instead of a beef marinade, I fried some tofu in sesame oil and then put the same amount of raw tofu in the japchae. It worked out really well because the fried tofu is a little bit crispy, but if all of it had been fried I think it might’ve been too much crunch.

Some things I learned along the way:

  • You have to cut the stem off of shiitake mushrooms before you properly slice them
  • For a dish like this, cook the onions a little bit too long to make sure that the dominate taste is a sweet one (and not bitter like raw onions are)
  • Blanching spinach is really easy (boil water, drop in spinach for 30 seconds, move it to ice cold water and squeeze to dry)
  • Make sure you let the frying pan cool down before you add in the sesame oil for the noodles (I added sesame oil right after frying veggies and some of the noodles ended up sticking to the bottom)
  • Be careful when mixing by hand, hot noodles are *hot*
And with that, I’ll leave you with some photos of today’s little adventure!

Lots and lots of veggie chopping was involved.

The eggs were by far the easiest of the items to chop up.

Japchae in all its glory. After a while the oils soaked into the noodles so it’s actually not too greasy.

I only had roasted black sesame seeds, but they still taste delicious!

Ready for eating!