I never met a noodle I didnt like. Spaghetti, ramen, udon, rice: You name it, I ll slurp it, happily. A favorite, especially in the summer, is dangmyeon, Korean sweet potato noodles, a.k.a. glass noodles, a.k.a. cellophane noodles.
Why especially in summer? Because these noodles, which get their English name because of their translucence, are super-light and springy, and gluten-free. I can eat a lot of them without feeling as weighed down as I do by, say, pasta (as much as I love pasta).
When stir-fried with vegetables, they star in the Korean dish japchae. Its easy to put together — once you get past a good bit of chopping in the prep, that is. As with most stir-fries, the work is all upfront, and once you get everything together, the actual cooking happens in the flash of a pan. The pan of choice is a wok, although a large skillet can work, too.
This version by Marja Vongerichten uses a gardens worth of produce, including tri-color bell peppers, green beans, snow peas, carrots, mushrooms, edamame and spinach. And much of the flavor comes from a quick sauce she makes from soy sauce, honey, garlic and sesame seeds. I took major liberties with the sauce because I know that a quarter-cup of even low-sodium soy sauce is going to cause an off-the-chart sodium reading for our nutritional analysis, so I substituted coconut aminos, which have much less sodium and also a touch of sweetness, allowing me to also omit the honey. If neither sodium nor sugar is an issue for you, feel free to return to her surely more traditional version.
The recipe is amenable to other substitutions and adaptations, too: You could use broccoli or cauliflower instead of green beans, kale or collard greens instead of spinach, and so on. You could include fewer vegetables, it’s true, but do me a favor, and make sure to include more than one variety. The name japchae, after all, means “mixed vegetables” — plural.
NOTE: The noodles can be found in Asian supermarkets and in many well-stocked grocery stores. If you can’t find them, use thin rice vermicelli or any other favorite noodle.
1 pound Korean glass/cellophane noodles (dangmyeon)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup liquid aminos or coconut aminos, or more as needed (may substitute low-sodium soy sauce plus 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar)
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (1 1/2 cups)
1 small onion, finely chopped (2/3 cup)
3 bell peppers, preferably a mix of red, yellow and orange, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced (3 3/4 cups)
1 large carrot, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch matchsticks (1 1/2 cups)
2 cups green beans, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 cup snow peas, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup thawed frozen edamame or peas
3 cups baby spinach leaves
Sriracha, for serving (optional)
Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and drizzle with a little sesame oil.
In a small bowl, whisk together the aminos, sesame seeds and half the garlic.
In a large wok or wide, deep skillet over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onion and the remaining garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a plate and drizzle with a bit of sesame oil.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the wok and add the bell peppers and carrot. Cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, snow peas and edamame and cook until all the vegetables are just barely cooked through, about 2 minutes.
Add the reserved sesame-garlic sauce, the noodles and spinach and stir-fry just until the greens wilt, 30 seconds. Taste, and add more aminos or soy sauce if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature, with Sriracha for drizzling if desired.
Adapted from “The Kimchi Chronicles” by Marja Vongerichten (Rodale, 2011).
Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The nutritional information is based on 8 servings.
Calories: 470; Total Fat: 9 g; Saturated Fat: 1.5 g; Trans Fat: 0 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4.5 g; Sodium: 180 mg; Carbohydrates: 90 g; Dietary Fiber: 14 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 12 g.