My grandmother, my dad’s mother, is an awesome cook. At my grandparent’s house in Korean they used chosun soy sauce that’s been passed down for generations, made kimchi and fermented it in the traditional claypots outside, made doenjang from scratch, and for celebratory events even made dduk from scratch. Everything was from scratch and everything was delicious. This tofu recipe comes from this side of the family and it is really a treasure. It has pork belly. How can it not be?
Japchae is a sweet potato starch noodle dish with a variety of vegetables, mostly commonly with onion, spinach, carrots, and mushrooms. It is a special occasion dish made for parties, family gatherings, and holiday celebrations. This time it was one of my coworker’s birthday. (Happy Birthday Johnson!)
There is usually a little bit of marinated beef in japchae but I made mine with the vegetables only with the addition of red peppers. The onion, carrots, red peppers, and shiitake mushrooms were sliced thinly and sauteed separately in a combination of canola and sesame oil. The spinach was blanched and squeezed well to rid it of its excess water then marinated with a touch of sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds. When the noodles were done cooking (seven minutes in boiling water), I rinsed it in cold water and drained it.
Then it was time to bring everything together. I sauteed the drained noodle in sesame oil for few minutes then added all the vegetables and soy sauce and sesame seeds to taste. It’s quite festive, colorful and delicious.
I cooked up a birthday dinner for my mom yesterday. I usually cook non-Korean food at home but I decided to go traditional this year and make my mom miyeok guk, a traditional birthday soup made with seaweed, along with other goodies. Newborn mothers are fed this soup for its nutritive values including a high amount of iron and its aid in cleansing the blood. So in connection with that tradition Koreans have miyeok guk as part of their birthday celebration.
Yook hwe is basically a Korean steak tartar. It’s traditionally served with thin batons of asian pear, salt and sesame oil. Sometimes pinenuts or crushed pinenut to garnish. Make sure you have high quality meat (the cut is called beef eye round) and that your pear is super juicy, ripe and crunchy. At the Korean market they have prepackaged cuts of beef eye round labeled also in Korean as yook hwe.