Saturday, August 22, 2009

Korean Tonight

I love visiting Mobile's international food markets. There's something to be said for being surrounded by hundreds of food items I have no idea how to prepare. I was faced with approximately eleven types of noodles; in characteristic style I chose the cheapest variety: $1.49 for 14.11 ounces of dried noodles. Upon closer inspection they were Korean sweet potato starch noodles, which I call glass noodles because of their sci-fi-like transparency. I also picked up a five pound bag of Jasmine rice, for $5. I can definitely jive with a dollar a pound. It reminds me of my monthly trips to the Garment District for smelly used clothing (also sold for a dollar a pound). It sounds gross but it was the 90's, so it was okay.

There was a recipe on the back of the bag of noodles. It was mostly not in English, but I could compile a list of ingredients that I would need to make jap chae, a Korean noodle specialty. It called for unspecified meat, mushrooms, spinach, onion, carrots, eggs, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, seasame seeds, and black pepper. I decided to add red bell pepper, because it is my favorite vegetable to stirfry. It gets sweet and tendercrisp all at the same time.

Jap Chae

Makes 6 main course servings, or dinner for 2 plus lots of spicy midnight leftovers

7 ounces dried Korean sweet potato noodles
2 boneless thin cut pork chops, sliced into strips
3 tablespoons sesame chile oil, divided
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup thinly sliced onions
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 package fresh shitake mushrooms, caps sliced and stems discarded
1 package of fresh spinach
4 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Fill a large pot with water and boil. When water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again and toss with 1 tsp of the sesame oil. Use kitchen shears to cut noodles into shorter pieces, about 8 inches in length. Set aside.

In a separate pot heat water to a boil, add spinach. Boil spinach until cooked, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Add 2 tablespoons chile oil to spinach in a bowl and set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok. When the cooking oil is hot but not smoking, fry onions and carrots, until just softened, about 1 minute. Add the garlic. Add the pork and fry until pork is totally cooked through. Add the mushrooms, fry 30 seconds. Then add the spinach, soy sauce, sugar and the noodles. Fry 2-3 minutes until the noodles are reheated. Turn off heat, toss with the remaining sesame oil. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of each serving.

Close-up of the noodles (sorry for the poor quality of the photo)

No comments: