Lunch Today: Jap Chae

During our second trip to a Korean restaurant, B announced to everyone at the table while gesturing wildly at the fried sweet potato noodles (aka jap chae), “I love this!” So as I quietly stuffed my face with kimchi and pickles, I made a mental note to make him some as soon as I get the chance.

Tracking down the jap chae was not too difficult – there was a Korean supermarket near where I usually shop. What was tricky was finding a pocket of time to search for it. My shopping window usually lasts all of 15 minutes from the time I arrive at the mall to the time my shuttle home arrives. It’s a good thing usually – I have to plan way beforehand and stay focussed, and I don’t get to pick up any extras (e.g. chocolates, ice cream, clothes, shoes =/). But when I have to squint at foreign characters and decipher brand new cooking instructions  – not good.

I managed a whirl at the Korean mart once (3 minutes) which yielded nothing. Fortunately, I was doing a quick run at NTUC when I stumbled upon this:

Sweet potato noodles! I’ve struck gold.

The instructions were easy enough to follow and I got a spicy Korean BBQ sauce to go with it even though I could just use a soy and sesame oil mix.

So today while B was busy slaving working away, I made him my version of japchae with whatever I could find in the fridge.

Now I’ve always been the kind of person who’ll use whatever I have in my fridge rather than fret over not having spring onions/parma ham/blah. I improvise. A lot.

So instead of the ground beef/spring onions/spinach/shitake/white mushrooms as indicated in the recipe on the back of the noodles, I shredded what was left of a gigantic rack of lamb I’d made on Wednesday, thinly sliced half an onion (since it’s just the two of us), matchsticked a carrot (we like), added some cabbages and used up my remaining single portobello mushroom.

The prep took about 10 minutes – you’ll be much faster if you don’t stop to take pictures like I do. And the cooking took another 10-15 minutes.

So pretty!

Lunch. Done.

I followed the steps on the packet of the noodles I bought, and I expect that different brands will require different cooking times.

The main idea is to cook the noodles as you would with instant spaghetti, run them through cold water after they are done.

Stir fry the aromatics – garlic and onion – until they are fragrant. If you are adding in raw meat, do it next.

Then add the thinly sliced vegetables according to the length of time it takes for them to get done from the longest to the shortest, stirring until they are softened by still crunchy – the noodles themselves are a cross between ‘slinky’ and chewy if done right, so crunchy vegetables will provide a nice contrast.

Add the noodles in, then mix well with Korean BBQ sauce (1.5 tablespoon to two is more than enough for two portions).

Sprinkle with sesame seeds liberally.

Bon appétit!

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