One of the dishes I never fail to order at a Korean restaurant is Japchae, or commonly known as Korean glass noodles. These transparent noodles are made from sweet potato, stir fried in sesame oil in a really hot wok to seal in epic flavours.
My parents have always said that you cannot recreate the flavours that you get in restaurants because domestic gas hobs are not powerful enough to make the wok red hot, there’s no wok burners to distribute the heat evenly blah blah blah…challenge accepted!
Sleeves rolled up, I was adamant to make this a success in my tiny kitchen without the stainless steel gliz of a commercial Asian kitchen, and this recipe proved just that. The secret to sealing the flavours is to flash stir fry your ingredients in a really hot wok and preparation is key.
Makes: more than enough for 2 people
Time to prepare: 30 mins
Time to cook: 10 mins
Temp: a smoking hot wok is all you need
200g Glass noodles (available in Asian supermarkets)
1 Large rump steak
1 Red pepper, thinly sliced
½ Onion, thinly sliced
½ Courgette, thinly sliced
Sesame oil for stir frying
Sesame seeds for extra flavour
For the beef marinade
2 tsp Soy sauce
2 tsp Mirin (rice wine vinegar or sake is good too)
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp Sugar
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
For the noodle sauce
½ cup Soy sauce
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
4 tsp Sesame oil
3 tsp Sugar
1. Combine all the ingredients for the beef marinade in a bowl and set aside.
2. Combine all the ingredients for the noodle sauce in a bowl and set aside.
3. Boil the glass noodles so it’s just soft for 7 to 10 mins. Drain, then rinse with cold water and mix in the noodle sauce.
4. Add some sesame oil to the wok and heat on the highest setting that your hob can muster until it smokes.
5. Stir fry the steak, red peppers, onion and courgette separately and set aside in individual bowls. Each component should take a couple of mins and keep moving the food around with a spatula to avoid sticking to the wok. You can flick the ingredients around in the wok if you want show off.
6. Mix the beef marinade into the stir fried beef and set aside for a few mins.
7. Toss all the ingredients and the noodles back into the wok and stir fry for a few mins. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of sesame seed on top.
This dish is so versatile; you can use chicken or pork instead of beef, you can go crazy with any vegetables you like – as long as they are not mushy so avoid tomatoes. If you can get your hands on Shitake mushrooms, they are a real treat.