Short on time or patience in the kitchen? I get you. This week’s dish, Japchae, is as simple as Korean cooking gets.
Japchae, (잪체) translates as ‘mixed vegetables’ and that’s almost bang-on. It’s a simple but oh-so-tasty stir-fry of glass noodles and vegetables, sometimes with beef added.
A common Korean side dish, it can be really filling as a main dish too. It can be eaten hot or cold, with or without meat. Japchae was first created in the Joseon period, when one of the king’s servants whipped it up for him to try. At that time it literally was just a bunch of veg, no noodles or meat – but the king was so impressed he gave the servant a huge promotion. Fast forward to today and it’s a staple in Korean restaurants and home cooking.
Here’s a nice and simple recipe for vegan Japchae written by Ue Seunghee, the owner of Sleeping Strawberry, a wonderful vegan-friendly women’s dorm in Hongdae. (That’s her pic above and believe me if this page had smell-o-vision you’d be licking the screen right now)
I stayed at Ue’s dorm recently, and took part in a cooking class with her to make Japchae along with some other vegan Korean dishes. Japchae was the real highlight for me, as after helping buy the veg at a local market, chopping and inhaling the yummy cooking smells and then scoffing it all down, I really felt ‘I can do this at home!’ and I have – so can you.