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Sweet Potato Noodles (Chapchae)

Sweet Potato Noodles (Chapchae)
Los Angeles Times

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Total time: 1 1/2 hours | Serves 10
  • 1 (1/2-pound) package sweet potato noodles
  • 10 to 12 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound sliced rib-eye or bulgogi beef, sliced into strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, crushed, divided
  • 2 bunches spinach, thoroughly washed with roots trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 white onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, whole, plus more for optional garnish
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Step 1Break the noodles into 6-or 7-inch pieces, then cook them in boiling water until the noodles are translucent and slightly springy when pulled, 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately drain and rinse them thoroughly in cold water.

Step 2Soak the mushrooms in cold water for about 1 hour. Squeeze the liquid from the mushrooms, cut off the stems and discard them. Slice the mushrooms.

Step 3Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms, beef, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of crushed sesame seeds and cook until the beef is cooked through and no longer pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Step 4In boiling water, blanch the spinach. Squeeze the water from the leaves and cut them in half. In a bowl, combine the spinach, the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of crushed sesame seeds and mix. Set aside.

Step 5Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the white onions, carrots, green pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook until the onions and peppers start to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the green onions and stir-fry for about a minute more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Step 6In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the noodles, beef mixture, spinach, onion mixture, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon whole toasted sesame seeds and the sugar.

Step 7Serve warm, sprinkled with whole sesame seeds if desired.

Note: Be careful not to overcook the noodles or they will lose their flavor and chewy texture. The noodles should be translucent but still slightly firm. You can find sweet potato noodles at Korean markets.


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