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Category: Vegetables

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

If you’re looking for a quick and delicious way to enjoy broccoli, this simple broccoli salad might just become your new favorite. Inspired by my recent trip to Seoul and reminiscent of banchan, the dizzying array of small side dishes that accompany a Korean BBQ read more

Soy Glazed Potatoes

Soy Glazed Potatoes

Whenever I tell people that I don’t love potatoes, they gasp as if I just said I hate kittens. But it’s true, they aren’t my fave veggie by a long shot. I usually find them kind of bland and boring. Generally when I want a 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

8 Treasure Rice

8 Treasure Rice

Lunar New Year starts on February 10th this year. It is a 2 week celebration that is one of the most (raucously!) celebrated holidays of the year for the more than 1.5 billion people worldwide that celebrate. Think fireworks, parades, elaborate decorations, gifts, new festive read more

Vegetarian Bibimbap

Vegetarian Bibimbap

Looking for delicious ways to incorporate more veggies into your meals? Make this Vegetarian Bibimbap! At its most basic, bibimbap means “mixed rice”. But there’s nothing basic about this beloved Korean dish of warm rice topped with seasonal vegetables, a tongue tingling gochujang sauce, and 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 can still crank out food for diners, and makes use of things we already have on hand (or maybe need to use up soon). Additionally, since we are a melting pot of people, it’s important to me that everyone enjoys the hot meals that we provide. We always try to impress the trifecta of a successful employee meal onto our cooks: cheap, fast, and tasty.

Enter Makanai Noodles. Makanai means in-home in Japanese and some form of these noodles or other appear weekly and are always greeted enthusiastically. (Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t LOVE noodles?) This dish is packed with protein from eggs and beef which helps fuel everyone through a busy shift. Makanai Noodles are also super versatile. Want a vegetarian version? No problem, just substitute the beef for tofu or other vegetables and use vegetable stock in place of chicken. Have some ground turkey or leftover roast chicken that needs to be used up? Awesome, that will be a delicious variation. As much as our staff loves them, these noodles are a favorite for the cook too; easy and fast to prepare so let’s get into it!

ingredients make noodles

I start making Makanai Noodles by soaking the noodles. They need to soak in cool water until they are pliable, which takes about 20 minutes. Today, I’m using a type of Japanese noodle called Malony. They are made from potato starch, which means they are gluten free. Sometimes, they are marketed as glass noodles and they have a delightful chewy, bouncy texture. You can substitute rice noodles, sweet potato noodles (like for japchae), or bean thread noodles as well.

I like to put dry noodles in zip top bags for soaking. I can never find a bowl that can fit long strands so this trick allows for even soaking without having to fuss with positioning your dry noodles.

drain noodles

While the noodles are soaking, I prep everything else, starting with whipping up a very fast and deeply flavorful sauce. It may seem like it makes a lot, but the noodles really soak it up.

soy sauce

sugar makanai noodles

Once the sauce is done, I prep the veggies. Makanai Noodles is a stir fry dish which comes together very quickly when I start to cook, so I get every thing ready and within reach.

green onions

I wipe and slice the shiitake mushrooms, mince the garlic and ginger, and whisk the eggs.

shiitake mushrooms

Then I gather everything together by the stove so that once that cooking starts, it’s super fast and seamless.

ingredients makanai noodles

Start by heating a pan until it’s good and hot and then adding the oil. Swirl the oil and pour the egg in. The egg should be cooked for only a minute because it will finish cooking with the noodles. You want soft, pillowy eggs that are not tough or rubbery because they are overcooked.

noodles

This dish yields a dry noodle so you should not have much liquid in the pan once the noodles are cooked. If you are using a different noodle than I am, you may need to cook them longer or you may find that there is still some liquid in the pan once the noodles are fully cooked. Tasting the noodle is the best way to know if it is cooked through. Taste a strand after the stated cooking time and if it has a core or tastes too firm, cook the noodles for several more minutes, adding a little extra water to the pan if needed. On the other hand, if you’re using very thin noodles, your pan may still have a good amount of liquid in the pan. Turn up the heat and stir regularly until the sauce has cooked down.

Now these delectable Makanai Noodles are ready to be served family style! Dig in and hope there’s enough for seconds.

I hope our restaurant’s family’s favorite noodles become a favorite in your house too. Let me know what you think, leave a comment on the recipe and don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations!

And if you’re a noodle-holic like me, check out some of our other popular noodle recipes. Like Longevity Noodles (perfect for New Year’s!), Pancit, or these addictive Coconut Curry Noodles.

 

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recipe card makanai noodles

Makanai Noodles

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: entrees
  • Cuisine: japanese

Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 Tablespoons neutral oil
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 7 ounces dried malony noodles
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
  • 5 stems scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch segments
  • ½ large onion thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 eggs 

Sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Soak the noodles in a bowl of cool water for 20 minutes or until the noodles are pliant. 

Make the sauce:

  • Combine all sauce ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Make the noodles:

  1. Drain the noodles and set aside. 
  2. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Scramble the eggs with a fork or whisk.
  3. Heat a large skillet or wok pan over medium high heat for several minutes until the pan is hot and you see some wisps of smoke. Add 2 Tablespoons of oil and add the egg, gently scrambling for a minute until the egg is half cooked. Transfer the egg to a plate.
  4. Add the remaining oil and swirl to coat the pan. Next add the ground beef and onions and let it sit untouched for a minute and then break it up with a spoon or chopsticks continuing to stir fry for another minute.
  5. Then add the minced ginger, and garlic and stir for a couple seconds.
  6. Add the shiitake mushrooms, the drained noodles, and the sauce.
  7. Stir fry for 5-7 minutes until the noodles have soaked up most of the sauce and are cooked through, but are still chewy and bouncy.
  8. Add the scallions and egg back into the noodles and cook for another minute until the scallions are wilted and the egg cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Transfer the noodles to a platter and serve immediately.

Notes

*To make this gluten free, look for gluten free versions of soy, oyster, and hoisin sauces.

*You can substitute any protein for the ground beef and any leftover meat like roast chicken is fine too.

*You can use different noodles like rice, bean thread, or sweet potato as well, adjusting the cooking time depending on the thickness of the noodle. Increase the cooking time and add a little more water if you find the pan too dry and your noodles still firm. If you use very thin noodles and have too much liquid once the noodles are cooked, raise the heat and cook off some of the residual sauce.

*If you don’t have all three sauces (hoisin, oyster, and soy), you can use just 2 but one should be soy sauce. Double up on the other sauce.

*Store any leftovers in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or on the stove top for a several minutes on moderate heat until the noodles are hot and regain the original chewy texture.

Keywords: noodles, makanai, gluten free, eggs, beef, veggies