Ingredients

  • FOR CHAPCHAE
  • 1/2-1 package Korean sweet potato noodles
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2-4 chopped cloves of garlic
  • 8 oz spinach
  • 2T sesame oil, vegetable oil
  • 3T shoyu
  • 1t sugar
  • green onions
  • sesame seeds
  • FOR JJA JANG MYUN
  • A little bit of chopped meat
  • 5-7 T jjajang paste
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1T each grated ginger, mirin, sugar and oyster sauce
  • 1/4 head of shredded cabbage
  • chopped onion
  • chopped zuke
  • 1-2 potatoes

Nooooodles!(Korean Style)

 

Who doesn’t love them?  Every culture, every period of human history has produced noodles.  I know that my life would be a more empty place without noodles.  Most of us in America are familiar with the various types of Italian pasta, and there is probably not a college student in the world who hasn’t eaten their fill of cheap, dried ramen noodles.

 

Noodles can be made into appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes and some desserts.  They can be made from wheat, yams, mung beans, canna bulbs, potatos, rice, buckwheat, acorns, even kudzu.  Fortunately, olchaeng-chi guku, which means “tadpole noodles” in Korean, are actually made out of pureed corn and not amphibians.

 

Several nations claimed to have invented the noodle.  Homer ate them in ancient Greece. Italians say that Romans invented the noodle in the 1st century B.C. in order to have a food product that would be easy to transport across their vast empire without losing quality.  But in 2005 the National Geographic reported that archeologists found a bowl of 4000 year old noodles in northwest China.  Evidently someone was sitting downtown to eat a fresh bowl of millet noodles, when a giant earthquake hit, triggering a massive flood that sealed the overturned bowl for posterity.  The archeologists reported that the noodles looked good enough to eat.  Now that’s shelf life.

 

I think that Koreans really have the noodle thing down.  Savory, flavorful, hearty, garlicky.  Yummmm. Today I want to tell you about some awesome Korean noodle dishes that will feed your soul as well as your tummy.  They are easy, one is cold and the other is hot.

 

CHAPCHAE

 

This Korean cold salad dish features sweet potato or yam noodles .  So flavorful!  The noodles have the most wonderful springy texture. It’s particularly great if you have some leftover bulgogi  to add.  If you don’t, you can actually purchase pre-marinated bulgogi at Uwajimaya or other supermarkets.  But shredded chicken breast, scrambled eggs or fried tofu works well also.  Yam noodles are available at Uwajimaya OR at Chinese/Korean groceries.

Photo by Jaden Hair, Steamy Kitchen

Directions:

First, cook your noodles and drain them.  Sauté together a thinly sliced onion, shredded carrot, ½ cup of nappa cabbage, a couple cloves of chopped garlic, about 8 oz of spinach, and 8 sliced shitakes for a couple of minutes.  Add a mixture of 2 tablespoons each of sesame oil, vegetable oil, 3 tablespoons of shoyu and a teaspoon of sugar.  Immediately add the noodles and toss. Then add meat or other protein of your choice.  Garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds.  This can be served cold or at room temperature.

 

BLACK BEAN NOODLES (Jja jang myun)

 

Black, black, black is the color of my jja jang myun!  Now, some people will tell you this is a Chinese dish, but I like the Korean version.  In fact, this is probably the national dish of Korea.  And so easy.  Perhaps it will encourage you to pick up that carton of Korean bean paste next time you go to an Asian grocery store.

Remember, GET THE PASTE, NOT THE SAUCE.

 

Directions:

Just sauté some chopped pork (or beef, or seafood) with a little ginger and mirin, and set aside. Next, fry up about 5-7 tablespoons of Korean black bean paste (called chunjang or jjajang) in a little oil, with 1 T sugar and 1 T oyster sauce, and set aside.   Then sauté some shredded cabbage, a chopped potato (sweet or regular, but this is optional), zucchini and onion.  Add 3 cups of water to the vegetables and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the potato is cooked.  Add the fried black bean paste and the pork and thicken with a slurry of water mixed with about 1T cornstarch.  Serve over cooked thick noodles—fresh udon works well, but you could even use spaghetti.  Garnish with something green, like chopped scallions or cilantro.