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Category: Noodles

Chilled Kimchi Noodles

Chilled Kimchi Noodles

It’s the constant refrain of summer; it’s too hot to cook but we still need to eat. Chilled Kimchi Noodles to the rescue! This refreshing mashup combines both Korean and Japanese flavors, resulting in a cool and satisfying meal that’s the perfect antidote for those read more

Rosé Rabokki

Rosé Rabokki

If you’re a fan of Korean cuisine like I am, you’re probably familiar with tteokbokki, the hugely popular street food featuring chewy rice cakes in a spicy, savory sauce. But have you ever tried rosé tteokbokki? This delightful twist combines the classic flavors of tteokbokki read more

Beef Japchae

Beef Japchae

I don’t like to abuse the phrase “game changer”, but sometimes its use is warranted. And this Beef Japchae recipe is one of those times. Japchae is as ubiquitous in Korea as mac and cheese is in the states but it’s more versatile. Although it’s often a side dish served with Kalbi and Bulgogi, it’s also eaten as a snack at room temperature, served as street food as I had on my recent trip to Seoul, and picked up at grocery stores to make a quick meal on the go.

The noodles are made from sweet potato starch so they are gluten free, but they are a fun gluten free-meaning they are traditionally this way, not manipulated to be gluten free and ending up as a pale imitation. They have a delightfully springy texture and absorb sauces beautifully. Making Japchae noodles often involves boiling the noodles separately while stir frying the meat and other ingredients. Each ingredients gets stir fried individually and then the noodles are drained and added to the wok. I’ve also seen variations where everything is tossed together like a giant salad once the individual components are cooked.

Nothing wrong with that process, but it is a bit time consuming, requiring many steps, and the main reason why I made Japchae at home infrequently. Like everyone else, cooking time was a luxury during the week with everything else going on. But then I saw a different process years ago on one of my favorite food blogs, Maangchi, and tried it for myself when I developed my Mushroom Japchae recipe. And it works beautifully. This Beef Japchae is made by layering the noodles and veggies in a heavy pot, and cooking it on medium heat for 20 mins. It’s literally a “set it and forget it” scenario. Game Changer!

You need this (almost) one pot wonder filled with a tangle of noodles, veggies, and tender beef in your life, so let’s get into it.

ingredients for beef japchae

I start making Beef Japchae by soaking the sweet potato noodles. They need to soak about a half hour, until they are pliant. This gives me plenty of time to get everything else prepped and ready to go, starting with marinating the beef. I use a thinly shaved beef, like the kind you’d use for a Philly cheesesteak. I’ve been seeing this available more and more at grocery stores. You can of course slice the meat thinly yourself. Make sure to place the meat in the freezer for about an hour to make it easier. I like a marbled beef for better flavor and tender texture, like a rib eye but you can choose whatever is your favorite cut.

beef soy

 

marinated beef

I set the beef aside to marinate and get started prepping the veggies.

carrots japchae

onion red pepper beef

I cut the scallions into 2 inch lengths:

When all the vegetables are chopped, it is time to start layering everything in the pot. I cannot stress this enough, but the key to this dish is using a heavy bottom pot with a tight heavy lid. I used my dutch oven which has a 7 quart capacity. You can weigh the lid down with a large can or something else as needed. If your lid bounces around while the noodles cook, you may lose moisture too quickly, drying out the pan and leaving you with only partially cooked noodles.

noodles japchae

Now it’s time to mix the sauce ingredients and add them to the pot.

adding sauce japchae

While the noodles cook, it’s time to quickly stir fry the beef. Make sure the pan is good and hot before adding the oil so the beef doesn’t stick and will caramelize. Let it cook for a minute without touching it. Again this is to try and get some caramelization. Stirring it around immediately in a cool pan will give you soggy steamed meat.

I cook the meat separately because I like my beef caramelized with a touch of pink- soft and juicy. I know you’re asking yourself, why can’t I just add the beef on top of the noodles and call it a day? Are you not encouraging us to make lazy/smart Japchae? Oh wise one, you can and save yourself a step and some dishwashing. However, some steps are important and I would advise that this is one of them. Otherwise, the beef which will be steaming for about 10 minutes, will be grey and probably a little overcooked.

But if that’s not enough to dissuade you, then do yourself a favor and choose a tender, well marbled cut and take a couple minutes to separate the beef as best you can as you lay it on top of the uncooked noodles (if the beef cooks as a giant clump, you will not be able to separate it later). Then cover the pot with the lid and proceed with cooking the same way.

str fry beef

spinach japchae

I have tried this dish many times and several of my family and friends have also tried it with great results. The key is to use a heavy pot, like a dutch oven that has a tight heavy lid. Once 20 minutes are up, take off the lid and taste a noodle. It should be chewy and full cooked. If it still has a small core, replace the lid and cook for another 5 minutes, adding a couple tablespoons of water if the pan is dry. However, if the noodles are cooked after 20 minutes but you still see a lot of liquid in the pot, raise the heat to medium high for a couple minutes to cook off some of the excess liquid. This dish should not be overly saucy.

Once your Japchae is ready, transfer it to a platter and garnish with some toasted sesame seeds.

I hope you love this streamlined version of Beef Japchae! Please take a moment to rate and comment on the recipe and let me know what you think. And don’t forget to tag us in your glorious dinner pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!

If this Beef Japchae reminds you how much you love Korean food check out some of our other popular recipes like Watermelon Soju, Spicy Bean Sprouts, and Gochujang Meatloaf.

 

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Beef Japchae

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes + 30 minute soak
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: entrees
  • Cuisine: Korean

Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 ounces sweet potato noodles, soaked in water for 30 mins or until pliant
  • 1 large onion, trimmed, halved, and sliced thin 
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 pack shimeji mushrooms about 3.5 ounces (or 4 ounces of any other mushroom)
  • 2 handfuls of spinach (about 1.5 ounces)
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup neutral oil
  • 1 Tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

Marinated Beef:

  • ½ pound thin sliced beef (I used a philly steak-style sliced rib eye)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • A couple grinds/dashes ground black pepper

Sauce:

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 6 cloves garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Marinate the beef:

  1. Place the beef, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, black pepper, and sesame oil into a bowl and mix the beef so that it is well coated.
  2. Set aside.

Make the sauce:

  1. Put all of the sauce ingredients into a bowl or cup and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Set aside.

Make the Japchae:

  1. Place the sliced onion, carrot, and bell pepper in the bottom of a large heavy bottom pot. Add the water and oil and toss so the vegetables are evenly coated. 
  2. Drain the noodles and cut them into manageable lengths (the length of spaghetti) with a pair of kitchen scissors. Place the noodles in an even layer over the vegetables. 
  3. Pour the sauce evenly over the noodles trying to cover as much of the noodles as possible.
  4. Cover the pot and set it on the stove. Turn the heat to medium and set the timer for 20 minutes. Let the noodles cook undisturbed while you cook the beef.
  5. Heat a medium pan over medium high heat for several minutes. Add the oil and swirl to cover the pan and add the beef in a thin layer.
  6. Cook the beef without touching it for 1 minute and then use chopsticks or tongs to stir fry it for another minute. It should still be a little red and undercooked.
  7. When 20 minutes have passed, remove the lid. Check that the noodles have cooked through. They should be chewy and bouncy but not unpleasantly firm or hard. (If the noodles taste undercooked, place the lid again and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of water if the pot looks dry.)
  8. There may still be some liquid in the pan. If there is, raise the heat to medium high and cook off some of the liquid as you stir the noodles to incorporate the vegetables.
  9. Taste again and adjust seasoning with a little soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, or pepper as needed.
  10. Add the beef and continue mixing for another minute. Add the sesame oil, scallions, and spinach and cook for another minute until they have wilted. 
  11. Transfer the noodles to a serving dish, garnish with sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

Notes

*Japchae is delicious hot, warm, or room temperature, which makes them great for a potluck or barbecue. You can refrigerate any leftovers for several days. Reheat on medium low for several minutes in a covered pan, stirring a couple times. Once the noodles are a clear color again, they are done. You can also reheat in a microwave on 50% power for 3-5 minutes. Heat in 1 minute bursts, stirring in between.

*Use gluten free soy sauce to make the dish fully gluten free.

*If you do not have the exact vegetables mentioned, you can substitute. Kale, snap peas, and zucchini all make good substituttions. Some vegetables, like mushrooms and zucchini are very water logged, so you may have a lot of water remaining in the pot after the noodles have finished cooking. Just raise the heat to medium high and cook it off for a couple minutes.

Keywords: beef japchae, korean, one pot, mushrooms

Vegetarian Flat Noodles

Vegetarian Flat Noodles

I can’t believe we’ve gotten through almost the entire first month of the year and I haven’t posted a noodle recipe yet. Well that travesty ends today! These Vegetarian Flat Noodles are an absolute winner of a dish. They are on the table so fast- read more

Makanai Noodles

Makanai Noodles

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant before you may be familiar with family meal. In our restaurants, family meal is always served between lunch and dinner shifts so the whole staff can eat together. Ideally family meals are filling, quick to make so they read more

Chicken Pho

Chicken Pho

Pho is a labor of love. It can take hours, sometimes even a couple of days to create the famously flavorful broth. But this Chicken Pho can be on the table in under 2 hours! I have a couple tricks to coax maximum flavor with minimal effort; in fact the hands-on time of my Chicken Pho is just 20 minutes. You can make the components ahead of time and reheat it when you’re ready.

Why would we post a noodle soup in the middle of summer? Although it may sound crazy, many Asian cultures believe that sweating out toxins is not only good for you but should be actively encouraged to naturally cool down the body. If you see people slurping down bowls of ramen in Tokyo or spicy hand cut noodles in Shanghai, all without central AC in the blazing heat, you’ll understand what I mean. Plus the fresh herbs, sprouts, and lime garnish in Pho are incredibly refreshing. Whether you decide to go the natural route or sit down in an air conditioned space, noodle soups are not just cold weather food. So let’s get into it!

Chicken Pho Broth

The first trick to creating a richly flavored broth is to toast the spices. Use a clean skillet and moderate heat-spices can burn quickly if you use high heat. In just a couple minutes, the lovely fragrance will let you know you’re done.

toast spices chicken pho

The next trick is to deeply char the onion and some ginger. That adds loads of complex, smoky flavor. DO NOT skip the charring. It’s critical to a good broth. And don’t worry, the broth gets strained so you won’t be serving any burnt bits. If you prefer to do this step under a broiler, put the onion and ginger as close to the elements as possible.

charred onions chicken pho

Now it’s time to get out the soup pot! Put the chicken in and cover with the water.

fish sauce chicken pho

 

After that 90 minutes the chicken will be fall apart tender. Carefully remove it to cool while you strain the broth.

strain chicken pho broth

shred chicken pho

Once the broth is strained, I use a fine mesh skimmer to degrease the broth. You can also use a paper towel to blot the broth or even refrigerate it overnight and let the fat congeal before removing.

Both the broth and chicken can be stored separately in the fridge for a couple days if you don’t plan on serving Chicken Pho that day. I’ve also frozen both the broth and the chicken with good results. You will have quite a bit of chicken, more than you can use for the servings of broth. Use your leftover chicken for fried rices, salads, quesadillas, omelettes…you get the drift.

Chicken Pho Noodles and Garnishes

While the broth is cooking, I get together a platter of garnishes. Part of the fun is that everyone gets to customize their own bowls so I like to have a nice variety of garnishes as well as some favorite condiments, like sriracha, hoisin sauce, and fish sauce. One of the trademarks of pho is a bounty of fresh herbs. Thai basil is worth seeking out for its faint licorice flavor that echoes the star anise in the broth, but regular basil will work too.

Bean sprouts are important but highly perishable. Only buy them when you know you will be serving Pho within a day. If you find your bean sprouts not looking their best, one trick is to blanch them really quickly in boiling water (for literally 2 seconds). Then plunge them into ice water and drain them. You will be able to save your bean sprouts from the trash bin.

And of course our Chicken Pho would not be complete without noodles! I prefer using fresh pho noodles because they have a great chewy texture, but you can use dried rice noodles if you prefer. Generally, if you don’t live in an area with a lot of Vietnamese people, the “fresh” pho noodles are kept frozen. Let them defrost in the fridge overnight. Do not try and cook frozen noodles. They will be tangled in a giant frozen ball and the exterior will be a mush before the center even begins to defrost.

Bring the broth back to a simmer while you prepare the noodles. The noodles take seconds to cook so that broth better be hot! And by cook, it’s really more like a quick swish. I like to keep a strainer in the pot and swish the noodles in the strainer once the water is at a furious boil. Strain them out and shake out the excess water. I do one portion at a time, but you could also cook the noodles at once and strain them in a colander in the sink.

noodles chicken pho

Serving Chicken Pho

scallions chicken pho

Now is when everyone gets to make their Chicken Pho exactly how they want it. I like mine with tons of herbs, someone always like theirs extra spicy with sliced chiles, some want extra funk and salt and they liberally add the fish sauce… I put out little dishes so folks can mix and match condiments to their heart’s desire.

Two of the main condiment bottles you always see on the table at Pho places are hoisin and sriracha. These sauces are used to season the meat-not the broth. Squirting the sauces directly into the bowl is considered poor manners, particularly since the broth is where so much time has been spent preparing it. Instead use some small sauce dishes. Put a little of each condiment into the dish and dab your chicken into the sauces.

Make Chicken Pho this weekend and let me know how you like yours! Love the fresh flavors of Vietnamese cuisine as much as we do? Check out some of our most popular Vietnamese recipes, like these Mussels, this Noodle Salad, or this Eggplant Salad.

 

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Chicken Pho

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: soup
  • Cuisine: vietnamese

Ingredients

Scale

For the stock:

  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, washed and slightly smashed with the side of a knife
  • 2 large yellow onions washed and halved (you can leave the skin on)
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves 
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 whole chicken (about 45 pounds)

For the Noodles:

  • 1 lb frozen/fresh pho noodles defrosted if frozen (you can also use dried)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 shallots or ¼ yellow onion, thinly sliced 

Garnishes:

  • 1 large handful fresh bean sprouts
  • ½ bunch of thai/holy basil
  • ½ bunch cilantro or culantro leaves
  • 1 jalapeno or Serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes quartered

Condiments: 

  • Hoisin sauce
  • sriracha chile sauce 
  • extra fish sauce for the table

Instructions

  1. Place the spices (star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, fennel seeds, and coriander seeds) in a small pan over medium heat and toast them for several minutes, shaking the pan regularly. The spices should be aromatic once toasted. Set the spices aside. 
  2. Place the pan back on the stove and heat on medium high heat for several minutes. Add the oil and place the onion halves and ginger in the pan. Sear for 3-5 minutes until charred and flip and sear the other side for another couple minutes. Set aside. 
  3. Place the chicken in a large pot, breast side up, and add 12 cups of water to the pot. Add the toasted spices, the charred onions and ginger, fish sauce, salt, and sugar.
  4. Bring the pot to a brisk simmer over high heat, cover with a lid leaving a small crack, and then reduce heat to medium low heat. Simmer for 1 and a half hours, skimming the surface of impurities occasionally. 
  5. Remove the chicken gently by using a wide spatula and a pair of tongs (it will break apart easily) and put on a plate to cool. Pour the soup through a colander into a clean pot/container and skim any surface fat with a skimmer or paper towels. You can also refrigerate the broth overnight to congeal the fat. Scrape and discard the fat.
  6. The broth can be cooled and refrigerated until ready to use. You should have about 12 cups of broth. Add a little water if you’re short. 
  7. Taste the broth. It should be more salty than you would normally drink since the noodles and vegetables will dilute the broth. Adjust with some salt if needed.
  8. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and pull the meat from the bones. It should be soft enough that you should be able to easily debone it. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces (I like to leave my chicken on the larger side so it’s easy to find in the bowl). Either refrigerate the chicken if you are serving another day or proceed with the noodles.
  9. Wash the bean sprouts, culantro, cilantro, and basil and mound onto a large platter. Add the other garnishes to the plate and refrigerate until ready to serve the noodles.
  10. Bring the stock to a simmer before preparing the noodles. If you need to reheat the refrigerated chicken, take a little of the stock and put it into the pan with the chicken. Heat it covered with a lid over medium heat for several minutes.
  11. Bring 2 quarts of water to boil and add the noodles to the pot. Stir the noodles with chopsticks and immediately drain into a colander. Using tongs or chopsticks to separate and portion the noodles. (You can also leave a strainer in the boiling pot and put the noodles directly into the strainer. Swish the noodles with chopsticks, then take the strainer out, shake out the excess water, and place the noodles into a bowl. This works well if you’re only doing 1-2 servings at a time.)
  12. Divide the noodles into 4 deep soup bowls and top with some of the chicken, some sliced shallot/onion, and a sprinkling of scallions.
  13. Then ladle about 2-3 cups of the hot broth over the noodles.
  14. Serve the pho with the garnishes.
  15. Everyone can add their favorite garnishes and adjust the flavor of the pho with the condiments at the table. 

Notes

*I prefer fresh pho noodles which have a chewier texture and fresher flavor than dried. You can find the noodles in the freezer or refrigerator section of most Asian grocery stores. If you’re using dried rice noodles, purchase the medium width noodles and follow the package instructions for preparation.

*You can freeze both the prepared broth and chicken. Defrost both before reheating.

Keywords: pho, chicken, noodles, vietnamese, rice noodles, noodles