Friday, December 19, 2014

Lunch Week 44: Jap Chae

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch the next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it every week unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided.

So my lunch for the week: Jap Chae

The holidays are coming up and I wanted to get a head start on eating well. People, myself included, tend to go all out during these times of the year and end up regretting the over eating. So to offset that gluttony, I've decided to try to be better during the week. So this week, I made vegan jap chae which is a Korean sweet potato noodle dish with various vegetables.
Not only is this dish vegan but it also turns out of be gluten free too (if you're into that). So it's pretty healthy but it's certainly not devoid of flavor nor texture. Oh, it's quite the opposite. Of course, you can add meat or eggs to the dish if you please. Strips of beef like bulgogi or chicken would work really nice here. And even thinly cut strips of egg pancakes would be delicious here. Want protein but not meat? Try tofu. That would be wonderful as well. It's quite versatile actually.

In my version of jap chae, I like to prep all my vegetables into roughly the same sizes. It helps when I'm mixing the dish together at the end. And it's just more pleasant to eat if everything is relatively the same size. So here I have some julienned carrots. I use a nifty little julienne peeler that makes these thin slices in perfect uniform quickly. It's one of the few gadgets that I do own and it's completely worth it.
And here's some scallions.
And some yellow onions that I sliced thinly.
Some shiitake mushrooms that were cleaned and sliced. I used fresh ones here and not the fried ones.
And finally the spinach. I like to use fresh spinach for this recipe as it has more texture than the frozen kind. And I opt for the long stem spinach.
So here are the noodles. These are called dangmyeon noodles and are made with sweet potatoes. They're chewy with a nice spring. They can be found in most Asian markets. You boil them in water (no salt) like any dried noodles. About 5 minutes is all you need. Then drain and rinse with cold water immediately. This rinsing will add to the texture of the noodles. Keeping them oh so springy and chewy. To the noodles, I added soy sauce (gluten free soy sauce like tamari), mirin, and sesame oil. Mix well and set aside. You can leave the noodles long and stretchy or you can cut the strands into smaller, more manageable pieces. I choose the later.
Now cook all your vegetables one type at a time and add to noodles and mix well after each addition. I stir fried the mushrooms, carrots, onions, and scallions. While I blanched the spinach and cut them into smaller pieces after they were cooked.
Mix well and enjoy! Great flavor from the seasonings and vegetables but also great texture from each component. I really enjoy this dish a lot and it's filling. It's a all around well conceived dish.
For a recipe for this dish, please see my previous post here: jap chae lunch

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