Japchae (stir fried noodles and vegetables) is one of my absolute favorite Korean dishes. The halmoni who cooks our lunches at school had set the japchae bar pretty high, but last night I decided to have a go at cooking it myself.
Of all the things I thought I’d blog about during my time in Korea, I never imagined that cooking would be one of them! My friends and family will tell you that my strengths do not lie in the kitchen, but I wanted to write this post partly as a memo for me to come back to because there’s no point in me writing it down on paper, I will lose it, but also because I think Korean cuisine is largely overlooked at the moment and I’d love more people to try it.
Japchae is a very versatile dish and can be eaten hot or cold, as a main or a side dish. Seasonal vegetables can be added, as can beef, pork or chicken.
- Starch noodles (dangmyun)
- 1 bunch of spinach
- 1 medium size carrot
- A small pack of mushrooms
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
- Slice the mushrooms, cut the carrot into strips, tear the spinach and mince the garlic.
- Boil 1 bunch of dangmyun noodles in a saucepan of boiling water for about 3 minutes until soft then drain. Put them in a bowl and add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp sesame oil and place to one side.
- Keep the boiling water to blanche the shredded spinach in while the carrots and mushrooms are cooking.
- Heat a couple of drops of oil in a frying pan and add the carrots and the mushrooms. Stir fry over a medium heat for a couple of minutes or so until the mushrooms and carrots are about half cooked (not exactly a technical term sorry!) and then add the minced garlic, blanched spinach and ½ tbsp of soy sauce. Stir fry for another 30 seconds.
- Lower the heat and add the cooked noodles, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of sesame oil and ½ tsp of black pepper to the pan just to warm through.
- Serve with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
Japchae was first served during the Joseon Dynasty, in the early 17th century, at one of King Gwanghaegun’s dinner parties. The king was so pleased with this creation that he promoted the cook to the position of hojo panseo 호조판서 (Secretary of the Treasury). That’s the sign of a good dish. Enjoy!