Friday, July 5, 2013

Chap Chae

I'm visiting my Mom as she is having a health crisis and the only thing that she wants to eat is Asian food, so I have been making many of her favorite dishes that I have already posted. But here's a new one for you - Chap Chae. It's a Korean stir fried noodle dish made with beef, spinach, cabbage, carrot, green and white onions and sweet potato noodles that are slippery and wonderfully chewy. The sauce is salty and a little bit sweet and redolent of toasted sesame oil. I added some Mu'er - also called Cloud Ear or Wood Ear Mushroom - a Chinese fungus that is really good at thinning the blood, which my mother needs, but you could use Shitake Mushrooms instead. The only thing that may be hard to find is the potato starch noodles, which are usually only sold in in an Asian Market. If you can't find them, bean thread noodles are a good substitute and can be found in many regular grocery stores. If you have ordered this before in a Korean restaurant, you will be surprised at how easy it is to make at home and you will be happy about making something so delicious.

Chap Chae

1 pound beef flank steak, sliced into thin strips (easier if frozen)
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine or Mirin
2 Tablespoon Tamari or SoySauce
2 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 small white onion, cut into slivers
2 garlic cloves sliced thin
2 carrots, trimmed and peeled, julienned
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
3 green onions, cut into 2 inch thin strips
1 bunch spinach leaves, stems removed
1/4 cup dried Mu'er soaked in boiling water for 45 minutes and sliced thin or 6 - 7 Shitakes
1 pound sweet potato noodles, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes or longer

Mix together the Rice Wine, Tamari, Sugar and Sesame oil.  Put the beef strips into a bowl and put in 2 Tablespoons of the sauce. Reserve the rest.

Put 2 Tablespoons of oil into a wok or large frying pan and heat until the oil shimmers. Add in the white onion and garlic and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Then add in the cabbage and carrots and cook until limp.  Add the meat in a single layer and let cook on one side and then turn to cook the other side until no longer pink. Remove from the wok and put on the serving plate for later.   Wipe out the wok and put in the additional 2 Tablespoons of oil, then put in the spinach leaves, the Mu'er (or Shitakes) and the sweet potato noodles.  Cook until the spinach is wilted.  Then pour in the remaining sauce and stir until the noodles are heated through. Put the beef and vegetables back in and stir to mix.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.

Five Element Analysis

The sweet potato noodles, the cabbage, the carrots and the added sugar make this a fundamentally Earthy dish.  However, the Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Sesame Seeds and Mu'er contribute the Water Element.  The white onion, green onion and garlic bring in the Metal Element.  The spinach contributes the Wood Element and the Rice Wine adds only a little bit of the Fire Element.  To create a more balanced meal, serve with something else that is Fiery or since this is a Korean dish, serve with something else that is spicy - so pass the Kimchi or serve with Korean Chili Sauce!

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