Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jap Chae

Back in college (it feels so weird saying this because some times I still think that I'm in school), my friends and I would always go to Steve's Korean Barbecue for some bi bim bap or jap chae (also spell chap chae). Steve's Korean Barbecue means a huge plate of rice, vegetables, kim chi, and a mean pile o' meat! Well, unless you get the vegetarian bi bim bap, then there's no mean pile o' meat. After moving away from school for a few years, I was craving for some jap chae a.k.a. Korean glass noodles with beef, but I was too lazy to deal with the lack of parkings and seas of pedestrians near Steve's. So I decide to make my own jap chae! Hah! Let me confess this, I failed miserably the first time around. Like epic fail. The noodles came out too dry, the shiitakes too chewy, the beef was tough, basically the whole thing was a mess. Since the downfall of the first try, I hit the books and studied the art of making jap chae and this time, it was a success! Wanna know how I did it?

Let's start with soaking some dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water(oh boy, did I butchered that pronunciation the first time...shit take!). Be sure to push all of the mushroom down so that they are completely soaked. If not, you'll have a problem of tough mushrooms later on.

While the mushrooms are taking a warm bath, thinly slice some beef. Then we prepare the marinade. Oh boy!

In a large bowl, pour in about 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce.

Mince 4 large cloves of garlic. Mince or grate about 1 teaspoon of ginger. Allow the ginger and garlic to bath the soy sauce bowl. Let's add about 1 tablespoon of dark sesame oil to add some fragrance.

This marinade will never be complete without something hot. So, we'll elect some chili sauce to complete the marinade. I elected Guilin chili sauce but you don't have to, elect your favorite chili sauce, people! Then whisk away!

Let's move back to the beef. Sprinkle on a tiny bit of baking soda. Not a lot, oh no! Something tiny like 1/16th of a teaspoon if you will. To keep the beef from being exposed, coat it with some corn starch.

Then let the corn starch coated beef take the soy sauce marinade bath for about half an hour.

You might want to toss the beef around every once in a while to help it getting the marinade evenly.

Take a bundle of Korean starch noodle. These are made out of yam starch, I believe.

Boil them for about 5 minutes. Drain and toss with a bit of sesame oil to keep them from sticking to each other.

It's time to tackle the vegetables. Peel and cut 1/2 medium carrot into match sticks. If you are lazy and have no skills for julienning vegetables, use a cheese grater. If I was this age in the 1950's in Vietnam, no one would marry me for my lack of julienne skills.

The shiitake mushrooms should be all soft and hydrated from their warm bath by now. Drain and slice 'em!

Take out the biggest pan/wok you have. Well, maybe not something that is 24" in diameter. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Cook the beef for about 2 minutes. Set the beef aside and keep warm. That beef simply can NOT wait until it gets with the vegetables and noobles...but it'll have to wait. The suspense will not kill it, don't you worry!

Wipe the wok/pan clean and pour in 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Throw in the match stick carrots and sliced shiitakes. Now stick your nose as close as you can to the pan and embrace the sesame oil scent! Aw, come on...what are you afraid of? Sprinkle some dried red pepper flakes into the pan to add a few dots of color.

Saute for about 2 minutes, then add a bunch of spinach and saute some more for 1 minute. Where is that noodles?!? Oh, where is it? It's time for the noodle entrance!

It might be a bit sticky and hard to work with at first. Don't worry, add about 1 tablespoon of the lubricator a.k.a. sesame oil. Then, we need some sort of flavor, so add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Oh, don't you gasp at me! That pot of noodle mixture is ginormous, the soy sauce will get distributed evenly and your taste buds will thank me later.

Now, the moment we have all been waiting for, it's time to let the gang meet the beef! Whoo! Turn down the heat to low and toss the whole noodle, vegetables and beef mixture around.

What else is to be done? Oh yes, toast some sesame seeds if you prefer. Sprinkle them on top of the jap chae plate and dig in!

And that, my friend, is how you make yummy as heck jap chae. Now, pat yourself on the back because you now can enjoy jap chae even Steve's Korean Barbecue is no where near.

Jap Chae

(Printable recipe)
Feed 4 = feed yours truly and one other fatty person

10 oz of beef sliced thinly
15 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 medium size carrot
8 oz spinach
1 bundle of Korean starch noodle
4 cloves of garlic - minced
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce - divided
3 tablespoons of sesame oil - divided
vegetable oil
baking soda
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)


Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water and let sit until soft.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, garlic and grated ginger to create a marinade.

Sprinkle about 1/16 teaspoon of baking soda on the sliced beef. Coat the beef with 1 tablespoon of corn starch.

Add beef to marinade and let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Be sure to toss occasionally.

Cook 1 bundle of starch noodles as directed on the package.
Drain and toss with 1 tablespoons of sesame oil.

Cut the carrot into match sticks.
Drain and slice shiitake mushrooms.

In a large pan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Cook the beef for approximately 2 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Wipe pan/wok clean and pour in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Saute carrot sticks and sliced shiitake mushrooms for 2 minutes. Sprinkle on some dried red pepper flakes. Add spinach and cook for another minute.

Add noodles, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and 1 tablspoon of soy sauce to vegetable mixture. Toss to make sure every thing is well mixed.

Add cooked beef and mix well.

Optional: Toast 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds.

Arrange jap chae onto plates and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.

Note: Replace beef with fried tofu for a vegetarian dish. Just eliminate the steps involving baking soda and corn starch.


  1. this is letran testing the comments again!

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  5. It is definatly Chop Chee. I guess I will be giving someone a Koren cook book for Xmass

  6. @Robert: so Bob, I would appreciate it if you give me a Korean cookbook for X-mas. You can drop it off at Helen's place and I'll pick it up. :D