There are days that I crave Korean food. But having a low tolerance for spicy food limits my choices for Korean dishes. I could easily go to any Korean restaurant close by but I found out that I am horribly and I really mean “horribly” allergic to MSG. Apparently, most, if not all Asian restaurants (except Indian restaurants I guess) use this ingredient to make their dishes, uhmmmm yummy. Believe I can tell you which restaurant around where I live add MSG to their dishes. Now, if I want to eat anything Asian, I have to fix it myself. It’s the only surefire way to assure that there is no MSG. Besides, my husband complains every time we eat out. He said that I make it better than the restaurants do. Now, tell me why I shouldn’t love my husband the way I do. He is my biggest fan.
Now back to my Chapchae or Japchae. I love dishes with different textures, tastes and is almost a complete meal in itself. This has protein (beef and egg), grains (rice noodles), low starch vegetable (spinach), high starch vegetable (carrots) and oil (sesame). We just have to regulate the portions.
For my vegetarian friends, you can make this vegetarian by skipping beef and egg. For my gluten sensitive friends, please use gluten-free Tamari in place of soy sauce.
400 grams rice vermicelli (bihon or sotanghon noodles could be used)
1/2 lbs spinach (more if desired)
coconut oil (or any vegetable oil) for stir frying
1/3 lbs fresh shiitake mushrooms (substitute – dried shiitake soaked in hot water until fully hydrated)
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 lb beef sirloin (or any cut of lean beef. omit if you want this dish purely vegetarian), optional
1 bunch green onions, sliced to 1 inch lenghts
1 egg, scrambled and sliced into strips (omit if you want this dish purely vegetarian)
12 tsps. sugar or use less if you don’t want it sweet ( I used Splenda, apparently Stevia turns bitter when mixed with soy sauce)
1/3 to 1/2 c light soy sauce (or Gluten Free Tamari for the gluten sensitive)
salt and pepper to taste
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and drizzle with sesame oil to prevent it from sticking together. Set aside.
Boil spinach until wilted. Rinse thoroughly (around three times) until the water runs clear. Squeeze all the water out and chop to 1 inch length. Drizzle with a little bit of sesame oil.
In a large pan, heat some oil. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for another two minutes. Remove the vegetable from the pan and set aside.
Wipe the pan with a paper towel and add some vegetable oil. Stir fry the onions for 2 minutes then add the garlic. Cook for another minute. Add the beef and green onions and cook until the beef changes color. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In a small bowl mix sesame oil, sugar , salt & pepper, and soy sauce. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Put the noodles, vegetables and beef together and drizzle with the sesame oil mixture. Toss and mix until everything is coated with the sauce.
Top with sliced scrambled eggs and sesame seeds and serve.