Japchae: Satisfying Sweet Potato Noodles
Korean dangmyeon make one awesome stir-fry
It's my duty as suggestor of lunch to provide you with words on every type of noodle in existence. I've fired up the wok, slurped from bowls, dipped in sauce, gone Italian and German, covered them with peanut butter and stuffed them in hot dog buns (different occasions).
But now I'm going to be totally transparent. That's a cellophane noodle joke. Dangmyeon, Korean clear noodles made from sweet potato starch, are the main ingredient in japchae. It's light, filling and healthy. And I'm the jerk at Woorijip heaping most of it into my takeout container.
Japchae is commonly found in a banchan spread, the assortment of small cold plates served with a traditional Korean meal. You will literally never encounter a Korean restaurant that doesn't serve this dish — it's as ubiquitous to the food culture as kimchi (and smells at least three times as good). It's a really simple dish: sweet potato starch noodles, also known as glass noodles, stir-fried in sesame oil with chilis, soy sauce, a little sugar and lots of thinly sliced vegetables.
If you're carbo-loading, there's japchaebap, noodles served over rice. If you're shunning starches until at least halfway through beach season, a. find a better way, and b. the original japchae didn't have noodles, so go authentic. Basically, in a food culture heaped with sticky-sweet short ribs, thrice-fried chicken and fried eggs on top of everything (bless it), japchae is your safe bet. It's usually vegetarian and frequently vegan.
Besides the fact that it's unbelievably delicious and goes for about $3 a serving (yay again for Woorijip!), I love how pretty it is. There, I said it. Japchae is very attractive. I am attracted to japchae. I have a crush on japchae. I want to go on a date and pay significantly more attention to my noodles than the dude. I feel like there's someone out there who might actually be turned on by that.
More noodles for lunch on Food Republic:
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