One of the most exciting things about delving into new-to-me cuisines is learning about new ingredients. Since having Bo Ssam prepared by food stylist Adam Pearson, I started my intro into Korean cuisine with the book Our Korean Kitchen by chef Jordan Bourke and his wife, fashion designer Rejina Pyo. Among the many fascinating ingredients I learned about were sweet potato glass noodles! They can be used in this week’s recipe for japchae, or Beef and Vegetables with Sesame Glass Noodles. Don’t worry, if you can’t locate them, you can use regular glass noodles for this filling and easy-to-make dish; perfect for a quick weeknight meal. —Kristina
Why Jordan loves this dish: This was the first Korean meal Jina made for me, and it totally won me over and sparked my obsession with Korean food. The glass noodles are naturally gluten-free, if that’s your thing, and are perfect for soaking up all the delicious flavors.
Beef and Vegetables with Sesame Glass Noodles (japchae)
Easily one of the most popular noodle dishes in Korea, it is easy to make, healthy, and packed full of flavor from the soy sauce and sesame soaked noodles. Traditionally, this is eaten on holidays and special occasions, but you will find it in practically every Korean restaurant these days. The Korean glass noodles used here are made from sweet potato starch, and have a delicious chewiness to them. While they are undoubtedly the best choice, you could also use any glass noodle available in your local supermarket.
— 4 tbsp soy sauce, plus extra to season
— 1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil, plus extra to season
— 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
— large pinch of black pepper
— 3 garlic cloves, crushed
— 150g (5.5 ounces) beef, very thinly sliced
— 1 egg, beaten and seasoned with a pinch of sea salt
— 200g (7 ounces) spinach
— 10 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
— 200g (7 ounces) carrots, sliced into thin julienne strips
— ½ onion, sliced thinly
— 240g (1/2 pound) sweet potato glass noodles or regular glass noodles
— 1 tsp black or toasted white sesame seeds
— 1 red chilli, thinly sliced, to garnish (optional)
— sunflower oil, for frying
In a bowl mix together the soy sauce, sesame seed oil, honey, pepper and garlic. In a separate bowl, place 2 tablespoons of the mixture with the sliced beef, combine and leave to marinate for at least 15 minutes. Set aside the remaining mixed sauce.
In the meantime, add a drizzle of sunflower oil to a frying pan and place over a medium heat. Add the beaten egg and fry gently for a couple of minutes on each side, until set, taking care not to color it too much. Remove from the pan and cool, then slice into 3 equal lengths, lay each piece on top of the other and cut them into julienne strips. Set aside.
Rinse the spinach, then put it straight into a large empty pan on a high heat. Turn the spinach as it wilts down, this will only take a couple of minutes. Transfer the spinach to a sieve and gently press the remaining water out of it, then place it on a plate while still warm and season with ½ a teaspoon each of sesame seed oil and soy sauce. Set aside.
In the same pan, add in 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil and stir-fry the mushrooms, carrots and onion over a high heat for 3–4 minutes, until slightly softened but not colored. Remove from the heat and season with 1 teaspoon each of soy sauce and sesame seed oil. Finally add in the beef and fry over a high heat for 2–3 minutes until cooked.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the noodles and cook for 7–8 minutes until tender. Drain the noodles fully and then return them to the pan with the remaining mixed sauce from earlier. Stir-fry for 2 minutes until the noodles have soaked up all the sauce. Turn off the heat and add all of the cooked vegetables and the beef, and half of the sliced egg. Gently combine everything together then place into bowls with the remaining sliced egg on top. Sprinkle over some sesame seeds and, if using, chilli. Serve immediately.
About Jordan and Rejina: Jordan Bourke is the author of the well-received The Guilt-Free Gourmet cookbook. He was named the winner of the K-Food Festival, a competition searching for the UK’s best Korean chef, and has traveled extensively in Korea, learning from a number of its well-respected chefs. Jordan’s wife, Rejina Pyo, is an eminent fashion designer and proud of her culinary heritage. She helped introduce Jordan to authentic Korean ingredients and flavor. You can find Jordan on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat: jordan-bourke. You can find Rejina on Twitter and Instagram.