Japchae has to be the most popular noodle dish in Korea. It is made with sweet potato glass noodles tossed together with beef strips and lots of vegetables.
- 170 g (6 oz) sweet potato starch noodles (dangmyeon) vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 spring onion (scallion), cut into 5-cm (2-in) lengths
- 1 medium carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
- 4–5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 2–3 hours, cut into strips
- 110 g (4 oz) Soy-marinated barbecued beef (Bulgogi) (recipe here), uncooked
Seasoned English spinach (Sigeumchi muchim)
- 175-200 g English spinach
- ½ garlic clove
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp toasted sesame seeds
- salt, to taste
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) soy sauce
- 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- For the spinach, prepare a bowl of iced water and set aside.
- Wash the spinach under cold running water to remove any dirt. Shake off any excess water, then set aside.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Blanch the spinach for 30 seconds, then drain and immediately refresh in the iced water to stop the cooking process. Leave to chill in the water for 10 minutes, then drain and trim off the roots.
- Spread the spinach out on a chopping board, then cut the stems and leaves into 5 cm (2 in) lengths. Gather the spinach with both hands and squeeze firmly to remove any excess water. Loosen up the leaves and transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Add the garlic, sesame oil and sesame seeds and toss everything together with your hands. Season to taste with salt. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
- To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved.
- Cut the sweet potato starch noodles in half using a pair of kitchen scissors. Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook according to the packet instructions until soft and chewy. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold running water until chilled. Combine the noodles with 2 tablespoons of the dressing in a large bowl and mix well.
- Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok over medium heat. Add the noodles and stir-fry for 3–4 minutes or until the noodles are translucent. Return the noodles to the bowl.
- In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil, add the onion and spring onion and stir-fry for 1 minute, until the onion is a little translucent. Add the carrot and stir-fry for another minute, then transfer to the bowl with the noodles.
- Add 1–2 teaspoons of oil to the same pan, add the mushrooms and bulgogi, and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes or until the beef has browned. Add to the noodles.
- Add the seasoned spinach to the noodle bowl, pour over the remaining dressing, and toss everything together with your hands. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Pile onto a large serving plate and serve warm.
Recipe and images from Little Korea: Iconic Dishes and Cult Recipes by Billy Law, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99