Friday, August 3, 2012


I love to visit different markets that offer products not available at a typical supermarket.  Recently, I visited H-Mart International which is part of a large Korean supermarket chain.  After perusing every aisle, I had the urge to try making a dish with a Korean flare.  The vermicelli (glass) noodles piqued my interest. In Korean cuisine glass noodles are typically made from sweet- potato- starch and are called dangmyeon Since I've made many vermicelli/ cellophane/glass noodle dishes, I thought the Korean version would be something new.  And for my beef-eating friends, I picked up a package of thinly-cut beef.

Although I have several Korean cookbooks, I decided to peruse the Net and found a Korean dish called Japchae, which is made from sweet potato noodles, stir fried in sesame oil with vegetables.  Typically, it is served with thinly sliced carrots, onions, spinach, and mushrooms.  It is sometimes served with beef, and flavored with soy sauce and sweetened with sugar. Japchae is garnished with sesame seeds and may be eaten either hot or cold. This was it.  But, I used the ingredients that I had on hand which were carrots, daikon, baby bok choy and snow peas. No spinach or mushrooms.

First, I decided to shred both carrots and daikon on my spiral vegetable slicer to make a vegetable "noodle" topping.  And prior to serving, I added a touch of ponzu.

Since I had baby bok choy and snow peas in my fridge, I used both as vegetables to accompany the carrot and daikon noodles.  And, of course, I used fresh garlic, fresh ginger, reduced-sodium soy sauce, and toasted sesame seeds which are typical staples in most Asian dishes.
Baby Bok Choy
I sautéed the vegetables in canola oil and added the sesame oil later because it is very powerful, at least I think it is.  For the "heat" I offered Togarashi red pepper or La Yu chili oil for each guest to select how "hot" they wanted their serving to be.

Overall, the dish had an underlying taste of citrus, sweetness and a hint of heat while the vegetables added crunchiness to the dense texture of the dangmyeon.  The carrot and daikon topping with ponzu were the citrus flavor.  The combination of flavors from the soy, rice wine and sugar added sweetness, and the heat was from the red pepper/chili oil. The bok choy and snow peas added crunchiness with a clean, grassy flavor.  All of this enhanced the dangmyeon, which had a much denser texture than the vermicelli/glass noodles that I've made in the past. And my beef-eating guests enjoyed the dish with the beef.  However, beef-eaters and non-beef eaters (me) agreed that mushrooms should be a part of it next time.

I can't say this is an authentic Korean dish, but using the sweet potato noodles was a new and a fun product to try. 

The Ingredients:
6-8 oz. sweet potato starch vermicelli noodles
1 carrot, peeled and cut into strings on a spiral vegetable slicer (or cut in match-stick pieces)
1 daikon root, about 5", peeled and cut into strings on a spiral vegetable slicer (or shredded the old-fashioned way, with a knife)
2 oz. Ponzu (or a combination of soy sauce and Yuzu juice)
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, sliced lengthwise, 1/8" thick, about 1 1/2 cups
1 cup snow peas, trimmed
1/2 cup Shaoxing rice wine
2 Tablespoons garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
4 cups baby bok choy, cut in half with tough bottoms removed
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (or Tamari)
1 teaspoon sugar
Toasted sesame seeds
Black sesame seeds
Soy sauce, pepper, chili sauce, Ichimi Togarashi red pepper or La Yu Chili Oil

The Noodles:  Soak noodles in a bowl of warm water to cover until softened, about 10 minutes, then drain in a colander. Cook noodles in a 3- to 4-quart pot of boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.  Place noodles in a large serving bowl and cut with kitchen shears into 8-inch pieces.

Drained Noodles

The Carrot and Daikon "Noodles":  Blanch the carrots in boiling water for 30 seconds and then shock in ice water.  Drain carrots and dry.  After shredding daikon, rinse, drain and dry.  Combine both carrot and daikon and set aside.  This will be a "topping" for the dish.  The Ponzu will be added and mixed later before serving.

Carrot and Daikon "Noodles"
The Vegetables:  Heat canola oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until it just begins to smoke.  Stir-fry onion and snow peas until onion is softened, about two minutes. Add the rice wine, garlic and ginger and cook for another two minutes.  Add the baby bok choy, sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar.  Cook for a few minutes more, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the glass noodles to pan and combine. 

Onions and Snow Peas
With Ingredients and Bok Choy
Remove mixture from pan and keep warm in a stainless steel bowl.  If using beef, add sesame oil and soy sauce to the hot pan.  Add beef slices.  Sear on one side, then turn to cook on the remaining side.  When cooked through, add enough reserved noodles and vegetable mixture to pan for those guests who are consuming the dish with beef.  Portion both the "beefless" and "beef" versions onto separate plates. Top with shredded carrot and daikon "noodle" mixture that has been tossed in the ponzu.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds as a garnish.  Serve with desired condiments, such as soy sauce, red chili pepper, chili sauce or chili oil.  Or just by itself.

Finished Dish - No Beef

Finished Dish - With Beef

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