Japchae (Glass Noodles with Beef and Vegetables)

When the temperature outside starts to drop, I can't help craving the spicy warm flavours of Korean food. Slow simmered pork bone soups, fiery kimchi stews, flavourful barbecue and toothsome noodle and rice dishes. And not to mention the myriad of pickles and side dishes that tease the palate!

The Korean Table by Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels is a recent addition to our collection of Asian cookbooks that gives a thorough overview of Korean recipes. The book includes a handy, in-depth glossary of ingredients with English, transliterated Korean and Korean characters which makes it particularly handy when hunting for ingredients at a Korean market.

Japchae (Glass Noodles with Beef and Vegetables) from The Korean Table

1/4 lb. (125 g) sirloin tips or rib eye steak, cut into matchstick strips
5 oz. (150 g) dried Korean vermicelli noodles (about half a package)
1/2 lb. (250 g) spinach
2 Tbsp. canola, safflower or other neutral oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick strips
3 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in water and cut into matchstick strips
1 Tbsp. dried wood ear mushrooms, reconstituted in water and coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. dark sesame oil plus moe for drizzling
5 Tbsp. Sweet Soy Base Sauce
1 Tbsp. Roasted Sesame Seeds
Fine-grain sea salt or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp. Sweet Soy Base Sauce
1 Tbsp. minced green onion
1 tsp. dark sesame oil

In a small bowl, add the beef and the marinade ingredients. Toss the beef strips until thoroughly coated. Let the beef marinate whle preparing the other ingredients.
Place the dried noodles in a large heatproof mixing bowl. Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the noodles and let soften about 8 minutes. Drain the noodles. Cut the noodles in half with scissors and set aside. If they get sticky just give them a quick rinse with warm water.
Fill a medium saucepan halfway with watr and bring to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute. Drain and set aside. [I skip this step and add the spinach when I stir-fry the beef (see below)]
In a large skillet, add 1 Tbsp. of the neutral-flavored oil and place over medium heat. Stir-fry the onion, carrot and mushrooms separately, seasoning each with a pinch of salt. Add additional oil to the skillet as needed. Place each vegetable, when done, into a large serving bowl.
In the same skillet, add the beef and stir-fry for 3 minutes. [Toss in the spinach and stir-fry until wilted]. Add to the serving bowl.
To the skillet, add the 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and the 5 Tbsp. Sweet Soy Base Sauce. Bring to a boil. Add the softened cellophane noodles and mix well. The noodles will become transparent. Turn off the heat.
Add the noodles to the serving bowl along with the cooked vegetables and beef. Add the Roasted Sesame Seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil. Toss until the ingredients are distributed. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serves 4