One of the best things about living in South East Asia, is getting to try different foods from all over the continent. One of my favorite dishes comes from Korea. Japchae is a very popular Korean Dish, with Royal roots, that consists of Korean sweet potato glass noodles and vegetables which are stir fried with soy sauce and sesame oil. Japchae is often topped with meat or seafood, but is lovely as a vegan/vegetarian dish as well. In Korea, it is often served for parties or celebrations and is regarded as a good crowd pleasing dish. Due to the large population of Korean Ex-pats living in Thailand, it is easy to find good Korean food here in Bangkok, along with lots of Korean ingredients.
Because the XXIII Olympic Winter Games begin this coming Friday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, I thought it would be fun to share the recipe for Japchae. Now, you can enjoy a taste of Korea while you cheer on your country’s team to victory. Fortunately, it is a rather simple dish to prepare. Chopping the vegetables is the most difficult part, but the cooking is relatively simple. It is a complete meal in one dish as well, so you can have plenty of time to watch your favorite events.
Japchae is delicious, but it is also a healthy, family friendly meal. It has become a favorite around our house. My kids request it often, so we eat Japchae for dinner about once a week. It is a great way to add more vegan/vegetarian meals to your dinner repertoire. Next time you are wondering what to make for dinner on “Meatless Monday”, give Japchae a try.
As a chef, I love learning to make some of the favorite dishes that my family and I enjoy eating, usually putting my own spin on them. Japchae is one of those dishes. My recipe varies slightly from the traditional one, because I have made it more healthful, nutritious, gut friendly and lectin free. Lectins are particular plant proteins that can cause irritation to your gut. For more on lectins, please visit Dr. Steven Gundry’s website where you will find helpful information on gut health and lectins. I recommend either using tamari (gluten free soy sauce) or coconut aminos in the dish rather than regular soy sauce. The traditional recipe calls for honey, which I have also removed from the dish. Honey is not vegan, and I wanted to keep this dish vegan. Also, I think the dish is improved by taking out the honey and adding the garlic and ginger to boost the flavor and nutrition of the dish.
To make Japchae at home, you will need an assortment of vegetables. Like the traditional recipe, I use spinach, mushrooms, and scallions. However, I also add carrots, asparagus, ginger and garlic to boost the flavor and nutrition of the dish. If I am serving the dish vegetarian/vegan style, I will top it with white and black sesame seeds as well. Most of the ingredients for Japchae can be found at your local grocery store; however, the sweet potato glass noodles can be found at any Korean or Asian grocery store — or you can order them online.
The cooking process is rather simple: first, you boil water for the noodles. Second, you stir fry the vegetables with a bit of sesame oil. Third, you boil the sweet potato noodles until they are al dente. Fourth, you drain the noodles and cut them in half (they are extremely long). Fifth, you add the strained noodles to the pan with the stir fried veggies and add the tamari (gluten free soy sauce) or coconut aminos, along with a bit more sesame oil. Lastly, toss all of the ingredients together until the noodles are well coated with the sauce. Now it is time to enjoy the dish! Here’s the complete recipe.
There are many ways to serve Japchae, which is part of the reason why it is so popular. You can eat it as a vegan/vegetarian dish, or it can be topped with any fish, seafood or meat that you like. Cook the protein separately, or throw it in and stir fry it with the veggies. Either way, Japchae is sure to become a favorite in your home.
I hope you enjoy making and eating Japchae. Please tag me on Instagram or Face book @eating_enchanted when you serve it. I would love to know how you like taking this culinary journey to South Korea!
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