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.
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.
Serve hot or cold.