My recipe output has been at an all-time high recently. But it’s been at an all-time low on the site. Last week, you found out why. It was a good excuse, right??
I’ve taken my book creativity suck as an excuse to mine some of my friends’ recipe gems for the blog, which has been a much needed helping hand, and conversely also something that’s stoked my creative fires when they are starting to dwindle.
A few weeks ago, I got my hands on my friend Hetty’s new cookbook, Family. Not only was I blown away by the photography, which literally made me want to lick the pages, but her recipes are always such a refreshing take on vegetarian main courses, something I am always trying to offer you guys more of here.
The book offers very special glimpses into the family life, lineage, and cooking outputs of a variety of different families, including Hetty’s own. I could have flagged half the recipes to try, but instead dug into the Asian Roots section, which has a bundle of healthy takes on traditional dishes like this vegetarian Japchae recipe with braised eggs.
For those who are unfamiliar, Japchae is like the pad Thai of Korean cooking. It’s a staple noodle dish and one that can be easily adapted to be gluten-free thanks to the base being made from gelatinous, starchy sweet potato.
If you can’t find authentic Japchae sweet potato noodles at a local Asian grocer, you can easily find rice vermicelli or glass noodles in the Asian aisle of Whole Foods. You can also make them completely paleo by using coconut aminos instead of tamari or soy sauce. Kelp noodles–which actually have a quite similar weight, thickness, and opacity—or spaghetti squash, which is a little thinner, are also great paleo options if you can’t find sweet potato noodles.
My favorite element of this recipe has nothing to do with noodles though. The soy sauce braised eggs make the japchae recipe feel like more of a complete meal, and it’s a technique I have always wanted to try but weirdly never had. There’s nothing like a salty savoury outside to kick your hard boiled eggs up a notch.
Read on for the Korean japchae recipe and for more delicious vegetarian dishes, definitely check out Hetty’s fantastic book, Family!
With health and hedonism,
Vegetarian Japchae with Braised Eggs (Korean Sweet Potato Noodles)
This Japchae recipe is adapted with permission from Hetty McKinnon's Family. These Korean sweet potato noodles are sweet and savoury, a simple and traditional dish often served over a bed of rice to create a more substantial main meal. The texture of sweet potato noodles is elastic, bouncy and surprisingly light. These japchae noodles are given heartiness with braised eggs, which are also slightly sweet and intensely satisfying. If you can’t find Korean sweet potato glass noodles, rice vermicelli works too!
- 11 ounces sweet potato cellophane noodles
- sunflower or vegetable oil
- 1 small brown onion finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves very finely chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- 4 shiitake mushrooms finely sliced
- 5 ½ ounces spinach trimmed and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 shallots finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds white, black or both, toasted
- salt and white pepper
- 7 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 scallion
- 4 6 hard-boiled eggs peeled
To make the braised eggs, in a small pan that will snugly fit your eggs, add the tamari, sugar, water, mirin and chopped scallion, along with ½ cup of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium, add the hard-boiled eggs and simmer for 15 minutes, giving the pan a gentle roll around every few minutes to coat the eggs. Turn off the heat and scoop out the braising sauce – you will keep this for the noodles. Allow the eggs to cool.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the sweet potato noodles. Cook according to the packet instructions for 2–3 minutes, until the noodles are just cooked. Drain and refresh under cold running water and, using kitchen scissors, cut the noodles so the strands are shorter and easier to eat. Set aside.
Place a wok or large frying pan over a high heat and add a big drizzle of oil. Add the onion, garlic and carrot to the wok, season with a pinch of sea salt and toss for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 60 seconds. Next, toss in the noodles, spinach, sesame oil and about ½ cup of the reserved egg braising sauce and cook for 1–2 minutes, until the spinach is just wilted and everything is well coated in the sauce. Remove from the heat and add the shallots. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the japchae among plates and serve with the braised eggs on the side either halved or sliced up. Scatter over the sesame seeds.