Hey! Hey! What are we going to eat today?

How about some delicious Chapchae?

As this food blog progresses, you will learn that my favorite foods involve potatoes and noodles.  I think it’s due to my upbringing of Chinese food mixed with America’s love of potatoes.

So what was the most amazing discovery that my little 10 year old self came across through trading lunches in the school yard?

Sweet potato noodles.

Dangmyeon, which is the Korean word for sweet potato noodles, is amazing!  In fifth grade, I recall bringing my standard turkey with lettuce and mayo on toasted wheat almost everyday.  One day, I made friends with a student who had just come from South Korea.  She, like myself, was sick of the same old meal and opted to swap.  My nasty sandwich (sorry Mom!) was then traded for a beef and dangmyeon dish with white rice.

Dear God, it was amazing!  These slippery, transparent noodles were like nothing I had had before.  I thought they were vermicelli or some type of glass noodles, but I couldn’t put my finger on why it was so delicious.  Then again at 10, I’m sure I just gobbled it up without thinking twice.

It wasn’t until I got immersed in the Korean food culture of Los Angeles that I found these noodles in a commonly found dish called Chapchae.

Chapchae is a stir-fried, vegetable-filled noodle dish.  DELICIOUS!  So full of color and so tasty (especially paired with delicious barbequed meats).

After ordering it one too many times and feeling the lightness of my wallet, I opted to make this at home.  First step was to find a recipe and see what exactly this noodle was, which lead to the discovery of the sweet potato noodle.  Also, for those of you who are gluten-free (like my lovely college roommate), this might be a great dish for you!  Just sub in tamarind sauce for soy sauce (Thanks Mary for the tip!).

Sweet potato noodles can be a little tough to find.  I was able to find them at my local Korean markets or Asian-food markets.  It’s cheap (usually a large bag runs you less than $2 bucks) and great to stock up on in the cabinet.

Chap Chae Recipe

Ingredients- Serves 4-6 people

  • 1 package of sweet potato noodles (11 oz)
  • 3 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • Half a white/yellow onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 stalks of green onion
  • 1 cup mushrooms (shitake or woodear)
  • 1/2 lb of spinach
  • 4 tbl soy sauce (tamarind sauce for those gluten-free folks)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbl sesame seeds

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil (for the sweet potato noodles).

2. Prep work:

  • Thinly slice your onion.
  • Peel and cut the carrots into little matchsticks.
  • Peel the garlic and finely mince.
  • Cut the green onions into about 1 inch lengths.
  • Thinly slice the mushrooms.
  • Separate the spinach leaves from the stems.

3. Once the pot has boiled, cook the sweet potato noodles.  There’s usually instruction as to how long they should be cooked, but it’s usually only about 5-6 minutes.

4. Once cooked, drain and rinse the sweet potato noodles with cold water.

5. Cut the sweet potato noodles with kitchen shears a few times.  Mix in the sesame oil.

6. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce and sugar together.

7. Add the olive oil to the wok and heat on high.

8. Once hot, add the onions and carrots for about a minute.

9. Add the garlic, green onions, and mushrooms for about a minute.

10. Add the spinach and then the soy sauce and sugar mix.

11. Add the noodles.  Mix it up.  I tend to add more soy sauce at this point or salt to taste.

12. Once cooked, add the sesame seeds and some more sesame oil.

Get ready to enjoy some delicious chapchae!  This is great on it’s own or accompanied with bulgogi.

[Possibly faced with some blank stares…]

What?  You don’t know what bulgogi is or how to make it?  Hmm… I see a post coming…


*the photos included don’t include the mushrooms, since my brother in-law is not a fan.


8 thoughts on “Hey! Hey! What are we going to eat today?

  1. Yes! It was delicious! Thanks for having us over C & K! btw, potatoes and noodles are great comfort foods – and Wendel has never met a potato he didn’t enjoy!

  2. Christine!! You’d be some excellent competition for the Korean ajummas (middle age women)…with all their experience, their nothing compared to your charm and style! Great job with the japchae, you make it look even better than here!! I miss you XO

  3. Pingback: Bull-go-what? | christine&kelson

  4. Ha ha! When I first read this, I thought it was written by Kelson. I was just getting my mind wrapped around Kelson in the 5th grade talking up a Korean girl into giving up her lunch when it occurred to me that this was written by Christine. 😛

  5. I love jap chae and how easy it is to make either a vegetarian or omnivore’s dish. I normally don’t add the spinach in until just the last second before I turn off the fire because I don’t like my spinach super wilted. I also slice some zucchini in there…it absorbs the sweet soy and nutty sesame oil really really well. Delicious!

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