RECIPE: Korean Japchae (Vegetarian Version)

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Cooking requires tremendous focus and patience; some dishes require more patience than others to prepare and japchae is definitely one of them. The most time-consuming part is the food preparation and final assembly.

Preparing this dish certainly presents a perfect opportunity to work on your own knife skills; all ingredients must be cut finely, cook and seasoned separately, and in the end mix together by hand.

Yes you heard it right, it is by hand and this is exactly what I’ve learnt at the Korean cooking school in Seoul back in 2007. The final assembly requires the cook to mix, taste and adjust seasoning at the same time. The dish is not supposed to be oily, too sweet or heavily “doused” with sesame oil.

Most of the traditional recipes consist of shiitake mushrooms, onions, carrots (cut into matchstick strips), cucumber peel (skin only finely sliced), egg, scallions and sometimes beef, garnish with sesame seeds and slivers of chilli. Seasonal vegetables are added and the colours are chosen very carefully to make the dish pleasing to the eye.

My vegetarian version uses less noodles, three different kinds of mushrooms, red pepper, green pepper (Thanks Sofei for your own organic produce), yellow onion and green scallions.

So what is your combination then?  (OO)

Ingredients: (Serves 2 to 4)

4 ounces of korean sweet potato noodle (dangmyeon), 1 large Portobello mushroom (gills removed, thinly sliced), 1 package of white shimeji mushrooms (ends cut off, separate each stem), 10 dried shiitake mushrooms (rehydrated, thinly sliced), 2 garlic cloves (finely minced), 1/2 red bell pepper (cut into thin strips), 1/2 green bell pepper (cut into thin strips), 1 small yellow onion (thinly sliced), 1 egg (egg yolk only), 1 to 2 green onions (cut crosswise into 1 inch long pieces), grapeseed oil, roasted white sesame seeds, organic Japanese (or Korean) soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, maple syrup, fresh ground black pepper for season to taste.

**Note: quantity of oil used is provided below, keep in mind it’s not supposed to be greasy!  As for the sweetener,  as I do not use refined sugar at home, maple syrup is my preference.  As it has a different flavour, please use sparingly or you can substitute with brown sugar.  You can always adjust the quantity of vegetables used according to your own preference.

Preparation:

– In large bowl filled with hot boiling water, completely submerge sweet potato noodles, cover and soak until they soften; stir a little to keep them from sticking together, drain thoroughly. This process takes less than 10 minutes, do not over soaked the noodles as they must remain firm and chewy. The noodles are quite long; using scissors cut them a few times, set aside.

– In small frying pan, add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, swirl it around and wipe off the excess with paper towel (not over the stove!) so you can see a very thin layer of oil on the pan.  Return pan to heat, add beaten egg yolk mixture into the pan.  Tilt it around so it spreads thinly, let it cook using residual heat in the pan for 1 minutes, then flip it over and cook for another minute.  Let it cook and slice into thin strips.

– Using a skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil over medium high heat, add onions and scallions and pinch of kosher salt. Saute until onions become translucent, it takes approximately 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

– Using the same skillet, heat another teaspoon of grapeseed oil, add red pepper strips and saute for 30 seconds, then add green pepper strips, mix well and saute for another minute, remove from skillet and set aside.  The pepper strips should remain crunchy.

– Using medium high heat, heat the same skillet with another 1 to 2 teaspoons (mushrooms absorb oil) grapeseed oil, add Portobello, shiitake and shimeji mushroom mixture, add minced garlic, saute for a few minutes until the mushrooms are softened and lightly browned (You will also hear a squeaky sound when cooking the mushroom). Remove from skillet and set aside.

– In a big mixing bowl, prepare the seasoning mix: add 1 to 2 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 Tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and fresh ground pepper (a couple of grinds). Add all the ingredients to bowl and mix together by hand (please wear disposable gloves). Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

– Add the egg strips and toasted sesame seeds, mix all ingredients thoroughly; garnish with more scallions if desired.  Transfer to plate and serve.

 

 

RECIPE: Deb Perelman’s Mushroom Bourguignon

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Fall is here and mushrooms are in season! This is the best time to utilize this versatile and healthy ingredient. For the past few weeks, “Mushrooms Sunday” have become a norm…

This is one of my favourite Deb Perelman’s dish (http://smittenkitchen.com/) – the Mushroom Bourguignona scrumptuous and wonderful meatless adaption of the French flavoured classic which can be prepared with moderate amount of effort and minimal cooking time.  A couple weeks ago, I prepared this dish together with my friend for a Sunday night dinner; the recipe is adapted from “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, we have made slight changes (*marked) based on our dietary preferences.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

2 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 Tablespoons organic butter (softened), 2 pounds mixed mushrooms *(we used Portobello and cremini, in 1/4 inch slices, cremini mushrooms all quartered); 1 1/2 cup of pearl onions (peeled), 1/2 carrot (finely diced), 1 medium* yellow onion (finely diced), 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried), Kosher salt*, freshly ground pepper, 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1 cup full bodied red wine, 3 Tablespoons* tomato paste, 1 1/2 to 2 cups *low sodium* organic beef broth (use vegetarian broth to make it vegetarian), 1 1/2 Tablespoons rice flour* (all purpose flour works), Pappardelle pasta* for serving, greek yogurt* and chopped chives or parsley for garnish (optional)

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Preparation:

-Clean all mushrooms, removed gills from Portobello mushrooms), blanched and peeled pearl onions

– Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter in medium sized Dutch oven (or heavy saucepan) over high heat; sear the mushrooms and pearl onions until they begin to take on a little colour for approximately 3 to 4 minutes.  The mushrooms will make a “squeak-squeak” (just as Deb Perelman puts it in her book, you can actually hear it !) sound as they are pushed around the hot pan – and they do not yet release any liquid.  Remove mushrooms and onions from the pan and set aside.

– Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook carrot, diced onion, thyme, pinches of salt and black pepper in the pan and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly caramelized.  Add the garlic, cook for additional 1 minute, season with more salt and pepper.

– Add wine to the pot to deglaze and scrape all brown bits off the bottom, turn heat up and reduce it by half (takes approximately 5 minutes).  Stir in the tomato paste and stock, add the mushrooms and pearl onions with any juices that have collected and bring it to a boil; bring it down to simmer for 15 minutes, or until both the mushrooms and onions are very tender.IMG_0015

-Combine flour and remaining butter (roux) with fork, through a small strainer (to avoid forming any lumps), stir mixture into the stew, let it simmer in lower heat until stew thickens to a “coating” consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

– Prepare noodles in salted boiling water (follow instructions on package), drain thoroughly.

IMG_0034– To serve, spoon the stew over the bowl of noodles, add dollop of greek yogurt (if using) and sprinkle with optional chives or parsley.

– The stew is full of flavour already when enjoyed on same day; reheats very well on the second and third!  The beef is not missed at all…Enjoy!