The first time I tasted this I loved it. My neighbor, right across the street from me, was born in Korea. She married a military man and has been living in the states for many years now, but most of her family are still living in Korea. She is such a sweet and delightful person, and I love her to death. She has the most beautiful yard and is the only person I have ever seen, who can dig around in her garden putting in new plants, while fully dressed in street clothes, and not break a sweat or get a speck of dirt on her! You'd understand the significance of that better if you saw what I look like when I dig in the garden. It's not pretty.
Every once in awhile when she makes this dish, she comes across the street and brings me a plate of it, and even if I've already had dinner, I cannot help but to get into it right away. I've mentioned several times to her that I would love for her to show me how she does this, but she sort of brushes me off and I think it's because she really enjoys making it and bringing it to me. According to her, her girls don't like it, but she knows I love it!
Every once in awhile in between those visits though, I would have a taste for this dish, so I set off trying to recreate it. I can't seem to quite get the sauce right, so while it doesn't taste quite the same as hers, it is an acceptable substitute. Sometimes she'll use shrimp or chicken in her version, but most times it is thinly sliced beef. This is her version she brought me once, made with chicken. Looks a lot different than mine, huh? I don't know how she gets the flavor without all that soy color. Eh... I'll keep trying and maybe I'll get there one day.
I know the directions look daunting - but don't be afraid! Like my stir fry, I've just separated them into the steps, and really this is like a stir fry dish but with noodles. First you marinate the meat, then reconstitute the bean thread noodles and then you stir fry the vegetables and put it all together. The bean thread noodles I buy come with 3 bunches in a package. They are unusual looking noodles - sometimes called cellophane or glass noodles, because they are a clear noodle. For this recipe, I use 2 of those bunches, so I'd say do about one bunch per serving. Just like any other stir fry, get all of your veggies cut up and ready to go before you start cooking them and this will take no time to come together.
Chap Chae - Korean Mixed Vegetables
with Beef and Cellophane Noodles
From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
About 2 servings
1/2 pound of sirloin steak
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
While the steak is still slightly frozen, slice it into thin strips. Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame seed oil, sugar, and garlic. Marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Two bunches of bean thread noodles
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of peanut oil
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
1 carrot, julienned
1 red or yellow bell pepper, julienned
1 cup of chopped fresh spinach
2 stalks of green onion, sliced
1/4 cup of straw mushrooms
Toasted sesame seeds
Dried pepper flakes, optional
Sprinkle of dried parsley
Prepare a small pot of boiling water. Place the noodles in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let the noodles soak according to the package directions. When ready, drain well and set aside.
Whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Prepare all of the vegetables and set aside.
Heat a heavy stainless skillet or wok over medium high heat, add the peanut oil and heat. Add the meat strips and quickly stir fry about 2 to 3 minutes until cooked. Remove and set aside.
Add the onion; stir fry 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, then the carrots, bell pepper and spinach; stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the green onion.
Stir the sauce into the wok and add the drained and dried noodles. Stir fry until most of the sauce is absorbed, then add the beef back to the skillet and warm through.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and parsley; stir and serve. Good warm or cold.
Note: Eliminate the meat and add extra vegetables, to make this dish Lent friendly.
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