Monday, March 29, 2010

Spicy Pork Japchae

I cook noodles pretty much every day. So it doesn't take much of an excuse for me to try a new noodle recipe. It could be a new brand of noodle at my local market, a tempting photo in my blog reader, the fact that it's lunchtime. Any of these will do. So when one of my favorite food bloggers, Steph from Momofuku for 2, decided to throw a noodle party, that was more than enough reason for me to get cooking.

Steph and her co-hosts, Christine and Shao, picked dang myun, or Korean glass noodles, as the key ingredient. Unlike Chinese glass noodles, which are made from mung bean flour, dang myun is made from sweet potato starch. The resulting noodle is much chewier and, to my taste, more satisfying than Chinese saifun.
Dang myun is most commonly found in a Korean dish called japchae, so I went to my usual source for kick-ass Korean recipes, Maangchi. Even though there's quite a few fiddly steps involved, she breaks it all out really clearly, and makes the whole thing look enviably effortless. Of course, me being me, I made this version of jap chae extra spicy, adding both red pepper flakes and gochujang. I also left out all the sugar. Pretty much my go-to formula for adapting food to my taste is: recipe + spicy - sweet = tasty goodness.

Spicy Pork Japchae inspired by Maangchi
1 12 oz package dang myeon
1 tablespoon soy
1 tablespoon sesame oil

8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 yellow onion
2 small carrots
4-6 stalks celery
1 zucchini
1 cup mung bean sprouts
4 green onions
Olive oil, for frying

½ pound of pork
½ tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Fresh ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves
1 cup mushroom soaking liquid
2 tablespoons red pepper paste (gojuchang)
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (do not substitute crushed red pepper)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds (optional, as garnish)

1. Wash all of your vegetables. Peel the carrots. Soak the dried shitakes in boiling water for half an hour.

2. Slice your onions (both green and yellow) thinly. Cut the celery, carrots, zucchini, and shiitakes into matchsticks. Break the tails off of the bean sprouts. 
3. Marinate meat in the sesame, soy, and a bit of pepper.

4. Crush and mince the garlic. Mix in a small bowl with gojuchang, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and about a cup of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid.

5. Boil a big pot of water. Cook the noodles for three minutes (test by biting a strand). Drain & place in large bowl. Do not rinse with cold water. Add about a tablespoon each of soy sauce and sesame oil and toss well. The oil keeps the noodles from sticking together, and the soy seasons them.

6. Heat a little olive or vegetable oil in a wok or large pan. Stir fry carrots, celery, onion with a pinch of salt. As soon as vegetables have softened, dump them into the noodle bowl. Heat a little more oil and stir fry the zucchini and shiitake mushrooms for a few minutes. Then add the green onions and bean sprouts and cook for a minute longer. Dump these into the noodle bowl. Heat a little more oil in the wok. Stir fry the garlic and pork.

7. As soon as meat is cooked through (about 3-4 minutes), add red pepper flakes to the pan. Then add the noodles and vegetables back into the pan, pour the sauce over, and stir everything together until well incorporated.

Check out the other noodle party people here:
* Momofuku for 2 made braised short ribs with dangmyeong
* Christine and the Big Scary Kitchen made a vegetarian version of japchae
* Fried Wontons for You
* Jeroxie added some Szechuan peppercorns to her beef short ribs recipe. Yum!
* Yum-O-Rama made her dang myun nice and spicy, you know I'm a fan of that!
* Lovely Lanvin tweeted her recipe


  1. Wows, these spicy japchae noodles look amazing! Good thing I have some left over dangmyeong noodles left over. I think I'll add the sugar back in though, that spicy-sweet flavour gets me everytime!

    I agree about the chew of the noodles, much more satisfying than mung bean thread. Although I do love mung bean thread too! I guess I just love all noodles.

  2. ohhh... spice spice spice. I just love it. And I do like the texture and the bounce of this noodle

  3. Mmm, I am a sweet/savory girl myself. Yours look alot like what my mom made for herself (I don't do spicy) hehe!

    Thanks for joining our noodle party, I hope you participate in the next one as well!

  4. Mmm...huge fan of japchae! I had no idea that Chinese and Korean glass noodles were different. That gives me a new noodle to try too!

  5. just made this substituting chinese eggplant for zucchini..will add a bit of sugar next time to get a spicy-sweet flavour. thanks for sharing a new way of making japchae! was getting tired of the traditional method

  6. I love making this recipe! Thanks!!


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