A few days ago we explored the world of Asian noodles, among them dang myun, or vermicelli made from Korean sweet potato starch. Although they have hardly any flavor, these long, glassy noodles have an immensely satisfying, chewy texture and can really soak up seasonings and sauces. This makes them a perfect addition to chap chae, a Korean dish of thinly-sliced, stir-fried vegetables (and sometimes beef).
Chap chae was one of the first foods my partner's Korean mom cooked for me, before I had become accustomed to the more pungent dishes in Korean cuisine, and I have loved it ever since – so much that I had to learn how to make it myself! Beloved by Koreans yet Western palate-friendly, the dish is quick to cook and delicious hot or cold. It actually tastes best after sitting in the refrigerator overnight and then brought to room temperature, making it a great dish for summer picnics or potlucks.
Note: Look for dang myun noodles at Korean markets or order them online at koaMart.
Vegetarian Chap Chae (Korean Noodles With Vegetables)
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish
6 ounces sweet potato vermicelli noodles (dang myun) 2 tablespoons sesame oil 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced 2 scallions (white and green parts), chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 cup dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in water for 30 minutes, drained, and sliced 1 small carrot, julienned 1 small zucchini, julienned 2 cups spinach leaves 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 teaspoons rice vinegar 1 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds Salt, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the noodles until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again, and set aside.
Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, scallions, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini, and stir fry until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the spinach, noodles, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Turn the heat down to low and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Turn off heat, toss in the sesame seeds, and season to taste with salt.