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Category: Main courses

Sweet potato noodles (japchae)

Mention comfort food in our Italian-Irish-Russian-Jewish-descended household and what comes to mind is Korean food. Not restaurant food, but home cooking -- dishes whipped up in the kitchen by my honorary daughter Kyung Min (Coco), who manned the stove while ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes | Serves 12
Note: From "Eating Korean," by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee. Noodles made from sweet potato starch (they look like rice noodles) are available at Korean markets. Don't overcook; they should be translucent but firm.
  • 10 to 12 dried pyongo or shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 (1 1/2 pound) package of sweet potato noodles
  • 7 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound rib-eye steak, sliced into thin strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 2 teaspoons, plus 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, crushed
  • 2 bunches of spinach, thoroughly washed with roots trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, shredded or cut into thin strips
  • 1 small Korean green pepper with seeds removed, cut into thin strips
  • 1 bunch green onions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, whole, plus additional for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

Step 1Soak the mushrooms in cold water for about 1 hour.

Step 2Cook the noodles in boiling water for about 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately drain and thoroughly rinse in cold water. (Before cooking, cut the noodles with scissors into 6- or 7-inch lengths for easier eating.)

Step 3Squeeze the liquid from the mushrooms and slice. Heat 4 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet. Add the mushrooms, beef, 2 cloves of the minced garlic, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds and saute until the beef is cooked (about 3 to 4 minutes). Remove from heat; set aside.

Step 4In boiling water, blanch the spinach about 2 minutes. Squeeze the water from the spinach and cut the compressed mass in quarters and separate the pieces. In a bowl, combine the spinach, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon crushed sesame seeds and mix. Set aside to marinate.

Step 5Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, green pepper and 1 teaspoon salt and saute for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the green onions and stir-fry for about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Step 6In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the noodles, beef mixture, spinach, onion mixture, one-half cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 1 tablespoon whole toasted sesame seeds and sugar to taste. Serve warm, sprinkled with whole sesame seeds, if desired.

Each serving:
455 calories; 11 grams protein; 63 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 18 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 24 mg. cholesterol; 1,215 mg. sodium.
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