Japchae; A Korean noodle dish sent from Heaven.

I often get cravings of one sort or another. Some of the cravings can be downright hard to ignore - overpowering even. Some can arrive in the dead of night, the middle of the day or while involved in any sort of activity. No rhyme or reason to a guerrilla craving I am sure you agree and often there is little you can do to satisfy the beast.

Being a guy some of the cravings are the normal ones you would expect from a being such as us, you know, like, ummmm, well, ahem, like golf. Or a fast car craving.  You know the cravings, and many other of the guy cravings like substance or specific activity cravings can not be engaged in just anywhere you know. Oh no!!! There are rules and social mores or conventions that have been forced down our throats that prohibits us from enjoying them just anywhere.

Some of the most overwhelming cravings can be satiated while alone, but they are best when another person is in attendance, that is of course if you are lucky enough to have that special someone that cares about your state of being. Someone who will take on the responsibility of curing you of the unreachable itch, or play cribbage with you, to name just a couple of activities best engaged in with a partner, threesome or a foursome.

The latest guy craving that I was able to satisfy by myself was for a wonderful Korean noodle dish called japchae.  It is a savoury and delicious offering that most people enjoy, that is - the people that are Korean or have some sort of food adventurer spirit. So I set to making it and wouldn't you know it, once prepared, there was no end to the assistance available to enjoy it.

When other cravings hit me there is seldom anyone that wants to assist to satiate them, but if it's food, there's a stampede. It ain't right...

Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles)

8 oz (200 grams) Korean glass noodles
3 Tbsp canola oil or grapeseed oil

8 oz flank steak, sliced thinly across grain
 2 carrots, julienned

1 small onion, sliced thin

4 oz fresh spinach

4 oz bean sprouts
2 green onions, sliced thin, (about ¼ cup)

¼ cup dried wood ear mushroom, rehydrated

6 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated

Beef Marinade
2 Tbsp soy sauce
large pinch sugar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp sake or rice wine
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Japchae seasoning
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced fine or pressed
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients together well and set aside.

Place the beef in a bowl and mix well with all the marinade ingredients, set aside in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Place dried shitake mushrooms and wood ear in a bowl of boiling water. Allow to soak for a half hour. Remove from water, and squeeze out as much water as you can.  If the wood ear is a large piece, cut into juliennes.

Remove the stem from the mushrooms and then slice thinly.  Place in a bowl with the julienned wood ear and add 2 tablespoons of japchae seasoning, set aside.

Place a large (12 quart) pot filled with water on stove and bring to a boil.

Wash spinach, drain well. Quickly blanch spinach in boiling water for 1 minute or until you see them wilt. Removed the cooked spinach, drain, and then run under cold water to cool. Drain well and squeeze gently to remove excess water. Set aside.

Blanch the beans sprouts for 30 seconds, remove from water, drain and then run under cold water, set aside.

Blanch the carrots for 1 minute, remove from water then run under cold water, drain, set aside. Place 1 Tbsp japchae seasoning on blanched vegetables.

Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook the noodles according to package instructions (see picture below) or until the noodles become clear and al dente, about 6 minutes or so.

Rinse cooked noodles under cold water, drain. Cut the noodles with scissors. Add 3 tablespoons of Japchae seasoning to the cooked noodles, toss, then set aside.

I prefer to blanch the beef for about 1 minute then drain and set aside.  Blanching it cooks it evenly and then it is ready for the wok.

Add 3 Tbsp oil to wok over high heat. Add mushrooms and onions. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the beef to the mushrooms and stir fry for 1 minute.

Add the vegetables, the noodles and the rest of the Japchae seasoning to the beef and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

Adjust the seasoning with more soy sauce and sugar if needed; add a large pinch of black pepper at the end before serving.

Serve hot, to your excited guests.