Home Cooking

Japchae: Vermicelli with a mix of vegetables and beef

I bet anyone interested in Korean food has heard about this amazing dish “Japchae“, vermicelli with a mix of vegetables and beef. It is not an everyday dish, mostly served at special occasions, like family birthdays or housewarming parties. However, it doesn’t mean that it is hard to make this at home. Rather, with this foolproof recipe, you will find making Japchae as easy (and delicious) as it gets~!

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Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 30 min

Yield : Makes 4 main servings or 8 appetizer servings

Ingredients 

– 250g Korean dried vermicelli noodle, 200g lean beef for stir-fry, 1 medium-sized onions, 2 carrots, 1 bunch of spinach

– Sauce: 4T soy sauce, 2T Korean cooking syrup(물엿 or 올리고당), 1T brown sugar, 2T sesame oil, 1T sesame seed, 1t chopped garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper

– Olive oil for boiling vermicelli and stir frying.

Method

1. Soak dried vermicelli in a big bowl filled with cold water (30 min).

2. Thinly cut onions, carrots. Heat 1T olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion cook, uncovered, stirring often for 3-4 min or until it softens slightly. Repeat the process for carrots.

3. In a large bowl of salted(1T) water, blanch washed spinach for 30-45 seconds. Rinse and drain the spinach with cold water and squeeze any remaining water. Season the spinach with salt, pepper, 1/2t chopped garlic, 1T sesame oil, 1/2T sesame seed.

4. Thinly slice beef and season it with salt, pepper, 1/3T soy sauce, 1T sesame oil. In a medium-high heat, stir fry the beef for 3-4 min or until medium-well done.

5. In a large pot, boil the water(3L) and pour 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 2T brown sugar and 2T olive oil together with vermicelli for 5 min. Stir vermicelli occasionally to prevent sticking.

6. Drain vermicelli then quickly rinse with cold water and put it in a large bowl. Add the sauce to the noodle and toss to combine. Add all the cooked ingredients above and mix well.

7. In a large pan, drizzle 1T olive oil and lightly stir-fry the mixture 6 (better not to pour all the mixture at once, half each time) for 2-3 min. Serve hot (or lukewarm is also fine) and enjoy with your loved ones!

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*Any questions or comments are welcome!

Hong Kong

5 Korean restaurants that you shouldn’t miss in HK

Many Hongkongers are in love with Korean food, the moment I reveal(?) my identity as Korean, I start getting bombarded with a flurry of questions like, where to go for Korean BBQ. While there are quite a few good Korean BBQ places in HK, Korean food is not all about BBQ, just as Sushi doesn’t represent diverse Japanese cuisine.

Below are some of great finds where we Koreans love to visit for no-frills, good Korean food. These are all great, but they specialize in different types of food, so simply grab one of your choice, depending on your mood today.

1. Arirang (3F, W Square, 314-322 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai)IMG_2180

IMG_2579Arirang is the place to go whenever I have a craving for Korean food at a comfortable, down-to-earth setting. While more and more unique, fun places offering fusion Korean food are popping up throughout the city, I still think food at Arirang is one of the most authentic kinds. Its menu option is very extensive, running the gamut from simple “Sundubu Jjigae”(spicy Beancurd soup), “Bibimbab”(mixed vegetable rice) to all types of BBQ and Korean hotpot, you just name it.

Weekday lunch set provides a good bargain with its price dropping to almost 50%, but the real fun part comes at dinner time, where you can find more group diners, a “bomb shot” (aka “Poktanju”, a mixed drink) and a lot of laughter. Try “Seafood pancake”, “Spicy beancurd soup” and “Mixed vegetable rice”, which also go well with Korean BBQ here. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)

2. Hwaduk (21/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay)IMG_2387

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Hwaduk is sort of way fancier version of usual Korean fried chicken place that you might find in Korea. From the moment I dined at Hwaduk, which opened less than two years ago, I have been a big fan of Hwaduk with the quality of its “Oven Roasted Chicken” (not fried!) and all other dishes, even “Gorgonzola pizza with honey” tasted better than any other pizzerias.

Perched on the 21st floor of this restaurant-filled elegant Cubus Building, Hwaduk is a perfect place to quench your chicken craving (pairing with a jar of fruit Sangria and this is a heaven). Hwaduk Chicken comes with very healthy and tasty green salad on the side, no matter what flavor of chicken you order. Health-conscious ingredient and cooking methods are definitely an added bonus that can hardly be matched by others. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)

3. Moyo (36 Aberdeen Street, Central)IMG_2395

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“Burrata & Fig in Modena balsamic vinegar” or “Cacio pepe e noci rice cakes” doesn’t sound like your typical Korean dish, however this Korean chef trained in Italy has been doing so good for creating amazing Korean-Italian fusion food. As Korean myself, I don’t usually eat at Korean-fusion restaurants but Moyo‘s creative menu incorporating familiar flavor with foreign ingredient is worthwhile to try.

This place is especially good for 20,30ish-youngsters’ group gathering due especially to its boisterous ambience in this small central outpost. Most of the patrons(over 90%) were Korean when I visited Moyo last two times. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 3.5/ Service 4/ Price 4.5/Value 4)

4. Itaewon(G/F, Kiu Fung Mansion, 14-18C Austin Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui)19961527_10214067342906370_6063785920928703858_n

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Itaewon, here we go. This is the place where you should head to when you are in the mood for Korean BBQ. Quality meat and side dishes (aka “banchan”) will make your whole BBQ experience  so satisfying, easily compensating for a bit of difficulty locating this restaurant from Tsim Sha Tsui mtr station. Itaewon is great for group dining, virtually in all age groups.(Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)

5. Jangdok(G/F, 188-190 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai)jangdok

bibimbabPleasantly surprised by the quality of the food at a very reasonable price in this newly opened Korean restaurant. While few of the patrons are Korean, Jangdok delivers higher degree of authenticity in their food. So it can be a good alternative to other Korean restaurants if you want to have a quick, easy Korean meal. Jangdok is truly a bang for the buck and its track record is already proven at its prior Jordan location. Worthwhile to try if you happen to be in the area and want to save time and money. (Taste 4/ Ambience 3/ Service 4/ Price 3/Value 4)

Verdict: I have been to Arirang more than 15 times and Hwaduk 10 times on various occasions but it is in Korea where you can taste the best Korean food, stating the obvious. It is only a 3.5 hour-flight from HK and you can enjoy amazing Korean food feast at around 1/3 price (in Seoul) and even less (in other cities) than you would pay for in HK. The diversity and quality of Korean food is unrivalled. So why not planning your trip to Korea for your next food adventure?