Monday, August 2, 2010

My Own Full-Time Kitchen Duties

I get asked every once in a while, "why don't you work in a kitchen?" My answer is honest - it's a tough life with long hours, high demands, and in many environments - very creatively stifling. Obviously there are examples of the complete opposite where people have made it happen and still wake up inspired. I'd still like to be there in 10 years. But this long weekend, something dawned on me - I work full-time in my own kitchen! That's the thing with long weekends (or weekends in general) when you've got no set plans - all I have is my own hands with devices and a kitchen coyly inviting me to spend some time exploring some new ideas - and let's face it, I don't have someone to cook for me - so if I want lunch, I've got to work for it! Yes, I can go out and pick up something quick, but I have all week to eat out - and I like to control and observe what goes into the gullet.

I'm posting a recipe I made last week - but I was definitely busy these past three days. I told the mothership that even when I have a quiet weekend where I rarely see anyone, it's a nice change from the people-people-people work environment I spend 40+ hours a week in. I like the quiet (or BBC Radio 1) as I shuck summer peas or roll out pie dough. It's contemplative, and I like it. I've always been a spoon that needed a fair amount of personal time just to reflect.

I recently read an article (or saw something on TV, I dunno - on some medium!) where a family decided to relocate themselves in the country (from their city lives). The mother noted the satisfaction and contentment she had watching a roast on a rotisserie for 5 hours (hey, I'd be happy too!) - she actually had a moment of stillness, of doing 'nothing'. I'd like to be able to do that one day - but even on my 'quiet' weekends, I feel the need to pack in as many activities or projects as I can - and in the summer I'm busy harvesting all the goods to be found!

Anyway - the recipe this post is for japchae! "What's japchae?" you ask! It's a Korean noodle delicious, and it's absolutely delicious! It's on par with a typical Chinese chow mein - noodles mixed with meat and veggies. But the real kicker is the noodles - when they are cooked, they are almost transparent, but in fact they are purple! They are made of sweet potato starch which gives them their distinctive color and taste (not too noticeable, really). But when you add in the sauce, they become brown-ish, but still fairly transparent. They are also a bit...jiggly, which I admit can be a bit off-putting. Did I mention that they can get kind of slimy and difficult to pick up? (LOL) Don't let this scare you! The dish is very easy to make - although depending on how many veggies you decide to add in, it could get a little labour intensive (as it did for me). I opted with:
  • snow peas
  • red peppers
  • zucchini
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • green onions
  • carrots
  • beef

After soaking the noodles in boiling water for about 15 minutes they become really soft and workable. Stir fry some protein in the marinade (recipe to follow) and then the veggies and then add in the noodles. That's how I did it at least - I'm sure everyone has their own method. Anyway - if you're looking for a nice side dish or noodle alternative, I recommend japchae as an option!

(adapted from original from Epicurious)

12oz sweet potato starch noodles
(soak for 15-20 min until soft)
1/2 lb lean sirloin cut into strips
*veggies - julienned*
(I am leaving this up to interpretation, the original recipe only had about 1/3 of the veggies I used! Go crazy!)

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Combine all the ingredients!

Noodles Method:

In a wok add 4 tablespoons of the sauce and fry the beef. Remove
Add another 5 tablespoons of the sauce and 1/4 cup of water and add the noodles. Set aside
Cook the veggies in batches and combine with noodles and beef.

Garnish with green onions & sesame seeds - bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. I love making japchae, although I find you have to fry the noodles really fast as they get super sticky!