Oh, right. Peppercorns. Rosemary.
Let us ‘splain ourselves.
We made Korean jap chae to take with us to a Food Photography Shootout led by the inimitable dyanamic duo, White on Rice Couple this week. We took jap chae, partly because it’s one of our all-time favorite Korean dishes, but mostly because we wanted help in how to photograph something which historically, has been difficult for us to photograph well. (Korean food, in general, ioho, is difficult to “make pretty,” but that just might be a different psychological issue altogether.)
We have a lot to share with you from the mini workshop, but there’s a lot of information and lessons-learned that we need to organize before we dump it out here, including things like styling food photos. This plate of jap chae was an exercise in styling for all of us (check out EatLiveRun’s photographic interpretation!), and since we didn’t think to bring things like toasted sesame seeds or other ingredients along with the final dish, we just used peppercorns and rosemary as stand-ins. (Right. There are neither rosemary nor whole peppercorns in jap chae.)
The fork, however, is 100% meant to be there. Though jap chae is a Korean dish, we don’t think eating jap chae needs to be restricted to chopsticks. Heck, we used our bare hands to mix it together, so…
Jap Chae Recipe
12-14 ounce package Korean vermicelli (see photo of package below so you know what to look for in the Korean market)
2 large bunches of spinach
2 large onions, halved and sliced lengthwise
2 large carrots, julienned
3 scallions, green parts only, cut into 1½-inch pieces
12 ounces fresh small shiitake mushrooms (or regular mushrooms), stems removed, julienned
¼ cup sesame oil
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon salt (more to taste)
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Cook the Noodles:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles until soft, about 10 minutes (or whatever the recommended time on package). Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside in a large bowl.
Cook the Spinach:
Start a large pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil.
Trim root ends off spinach. You can also trim the stems off completely to use only spinach leaves, but for some reason, we like the fibers of the stems. It makes us feel healthier.
Wash spinach thoroughly. Then wash again because three times the first time probably wasn’t enough to get all the dirt off.
Then wash the spinach again. We’re not kidding.
Dunk spinach in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain, rinse with cold water, and squeeze out all water. Set aside.
Cook the Onions, Carrots, Scallions and Mushrooms:
Heat about 2 tablespoons canola oil in large wok over medium-low heat (a very large saute pan will work, too). Add onions and cook until just soft. Turn down heat to medium-low, add carrots, scallions and mushrooms and cook until everything is soft and fragrant. If the wok looks dry, add more oil.
Add cooked spinach, onions, carrots, scallions and mushrooms to the large bowl with the vermicelli. Drizzle sesame oil, soy sauce, and salt, then toss everything in the bowl together.
The easiest way to incorporate everything is to use your hands. If you’re afraid of getting your hands dirty, use tongs for this, the very last time you will ever be in the kitchen because who doesn’t get their hands dirty in the kitchen?!
Taste and adjust with soy sauce, salt, and pepper. To be honest, we know we used a lot more soy sauce and salt, but that’s just because we’re salt freaks.
Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
This dish can be served hot or room temperature. Store in refrigerator. It reheats like a dream in the microwave oven. That is, if you actually have any leftover.