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Glass noodles?
What in the bibimbap-itty world are those, I wondered when coming across a snapshot of the glistening, transparent delicacies.

Not one to let an opportunity to learn something new slip through my fingers, I skedaddled straight to Google to get the lowdown.

Gulp, I must have been living under a culinary rock because one of the Goggle sources indicated that these noodles are used extensively at pan-Asian restaurants. Really?

Clearly, I don’t get out much and further research was needed.

We have several, er…four, Asian menus (one Thai and three Chinese) resting peacefully in our “take-out” collection. Faster than you can say satiny, I made a B-line for that mound of manuscripts to confirm or deny such an outlandish “extensive” declaration.
Only one of the four menus (Thai) offered a dish containing glass noodles, which, by the by, also happened to contain meat and was probably the reason for this lack of noodle knowledge. Haha…

Here is what else I learned…

Turns out these shimmery macaroni’s, also referred to as cellophane noodles, are made from the starch of vegetables. Two of the more common vegetable starches used include mung bean and sweet potato. Once cooked, they become clear-colored and chewy.

I focused on the sweet potato glass noodle also referred to as Dangmyeon and often used in Korean dishes.

Aside from kimchi, my knowledge in regard to Korean cuisine is pretty sparse.

Back to Google!

One of the dishes I often stumbled upon in my research was called Japchae, a sweet potato starch noodle stir fry (say that ten times fast!) with vegetables and meat. It is one of Korea’s more popular dishes and often served during celebratory occasions.

Most of the Japchae recipes used the same ingredients with little variation in the measurements. From the outset, with the exception of meat, I stuck exactly to the recipes. This was in order to get a feel for the flavors of the dish.

After a few go rounds, I made changes. If you were to compare my recipe to many others you would find that I omitted the sugar used in the marinade. Originally, I used brown sugar which was specified in many of the recipes. I then switched to 100 % pure maple syrup and finally decided to bypass sugar altogether because omitting it didn’t alter the taste of the dish. That could have been the result of my inclusion of ginger root, which significantly enhanced the flavor of the dish.
Additionally, while I used the sesame oil in the marinade, I omitted oil for the individual sautéing of the vegetables. Add a little water to the vegetables, if need be, to prevent them from burning.
Lastly, cooking the spinach was a procedure used in all the recipes I came across.  I preferred to keep it raw and tossed it into the dish last-minute.

This dish was loads of fun to sling together, to devour and one which will make its way into our rotation.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, sliced
3 carrots, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
10 oz mushrooms, whatever variety you prefer
7 oz glass noodles
spinach, keep raw
cracked pepper, to taste
toasted sesame seeds

Mushroom marinade:
4 tbsp tamari
1 tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp 100% pure maple syrup, optional
1 tbsp ginger, zested (optional, but highly recommended)

Directions:
Cook glass noodles according to package directions.
Once noodles are cooked (6-7 minutes) rinse in cool water.
Drain mushrooms and combine the left over marinade with the noodles. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet on high and cook vegetables individually and in order given. A few minutes for each group is all that is needed, given the small size.
Combine vegetables, noodles, spinach and cracked pepper in a large bowl.
Mix well.
Taste and adjust seasoning – sesame oil and more cracked pepper, if needed.
Reheat stir fry, in skillet, for a few minutes if desired. (This is not a traditional practice but I wanted the dish piping hot)
Plate dish and top with toasted sesame seeds.

Do you have a favorite Korean dish or recipe?  Please share or comment…

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