Thank you Korean inventor of sweet potato vermicelli noodles. I don’t know who you are or how these came to be, but I am grateful for your creative mind and for the well-stocked Asian grocery stores who carry your fine product (including, I just discovered, Amazon.com). Grain-free, wheat-free and gluten-free, easy to work with, and fun to eat, these noodles landed in my kitchen after a successful shopping trip in Montreal’s Chinatown yesterday.
The Vermont garden version of the Korean Japchae noodle dish I made, may not fully qualify for the name, but it was easy to make with vegetables I had, and the noodles and the Asian flavored sauce made the meal stand out as something special.
Vermont Garden Japchae
- 1 bag sweet potato vermicelli noodles
- 1 package of tofu, ideally drained and pressed for several hours before cooking
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion, cut into inch long pieces
- 1 red onion, cut into inch long pieces
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 cup red, yellow, orange and/or green bell pepper slices
- 1 bunch bok choy, chopped
- good handful of green beans
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, shredded
- small handful of fresh basil leaves, cut finely
- 1/3 cup tamari soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon chili sauce (such as Sriracha) or to taste
- sesame seeds
- additional soy sauce, hot sauce, sesame seeds, lime wedges (optional, for serving)
- If your package of sweet potato vermicelli comes with preparation instructions you understand, please follow them. Mine did not, so I guessed: I soaked the noodles for about 20 minutes and when they weren’t soft enough yet, I cooked them in boiling water for another 5-10. Drain softened noodles and set aside.
- Cut tofu into small 1/2 inch pieces and fry them in 2 tablespoons coconut oil until they develop a light brown crust. Slide them onto a plate and set aside.
- Warm the remaining coconut oil in a skillet, and sauté onions until just starting to brown. Add ginger, garlic and other vegetables and sauté for another few minutes. I added the carrot and basil at the very end to keep them raw, bright and crunchy.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the sauce ingredients.
- In a large pot, such as a Dutch oven, combine softened noodles, vegetables, tofu and sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve (tongs make for easiest serving)
- Serve with additional soy sauce, hot sauce, lime wedges, and sesame seeds; and either chop sticks, a fork, or maybe a pair of scissors (those are some long noodles).
It was a “Can I have seconds?”, “Can I have thirds?” kind of dinner. My favorite kind.