Jap Chae is a Korean dish of sauteed vegetables and sweet potato noodles (called dangmyeon) in a sweet soy based sauce and occasionally served with beef. I made this version with meat to make it a complete meal, but you can easily adapt this to vegetarian by substituting tofu, paneer or seitan or just omitting the meat/meat substitute all together.
Korean food is the spiciest of central Asian cuisine. I eat a lot of spicy food, but I remember the very first time I tried Korean food, a friend of mine was working on a Saturday and she could not leave her office, even though we had plans for lunch. The rest of us decided to buy some lunch to go and have with her, at her office. She worked in the heart of the Korean enclave in midtown Manhattan, so we were surrounded by that. None of us had tried Korean food in the past, so we figured we’d venture into the unknown. We ordered a few different dishes and figured we would eat them family style and share. Of the 5 dishes we ordered, I could only eat 3. The friend we had brought the food for – she could only tolerate 1 of the dishes. The food was just so spicy.
Jap Chae is one the most popular Korean dishes in America, because it is one of the few Korean dishes that is not spicy (although it is often garnished with sliced chiles), but because I like things with a little heat, I made a spiced up version of it.
Please note that this is not a traditional Jap Chae recipe because I just made it with meat and veggies I already had, instead of buying extra food specifically for this recipe. It still tastes delicious with the flavor essence of the traditional dish!
3/4 lb. pork loin chops
1 tablespoon Gochujang (Korean pepper paste). For a recipe on how to make this pepper paste yourself, see here.
3 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 small red cabbage, sliced
1 lb. stir-fry mix frozen vegetables
14 oz. dangmyeon (sweet potato noodes), also called glass noodles
1/4 cup soy sauce (if you can, use Korean soy sauce, which has a more intense flavor than Chinese varieties)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
3 Asian chiles, thinly sliced
Cut pork chops into strips and combine in a bowl with the Gochujang, ginger and garlic. Mix well and marinate for at least 2 hours, although overnight is best.
Heat a pot of boiling water. Add noodles and cook for about 3 minutes.
Drain immediately and run cold water over the noodles to stop the cooking process immediately.
In a small bowl, combine soy sauce and sugar and set aside..
Heat oil. Add onion and saute for about 2 minutes. Add meat and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
Add cabbage and frozen vegetables and cook, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add cooked noodles and soy sauce combination and toss to combine.
Serve, garnished with sesame seeds and chiles.
In my version here, I used more veggies than is customary, but I am trying to include more vegetables in my diet and it makes a healthier version of the dish, consuming less starch and more vegetables.
You will most likely have to go to an Asian market to get some of these specialty ingredients, although gourmet markets like Whole Foods and Fairway may carry the ingredients needed.