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Steamy Kitchen’s Jap Chae – Tweaked

Several months ago, Jaden from Steamy Kitchen [1]posted a recipe for Jap Chae [2], or Korean Glass Noodles. One look at her tantalizing photo of the dish was all I needed to prompt me to try it for myself. I have tried many of Jaden’s recipes and she hasn’t steered me wrong yet!
To me, the recipe was perfect as it was, but to Mr. Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy (alias Mr. SGCC), it lacked one essential thing: MEAT! Yes folks, Mr. SGCC is a Caveman. He requires meat (sometimes fish) at every meal. If he doesn’t get it, he grunts and groans and starts beating his fists against his chest. I knew that if I was going to serve Jap Chae at my table, I was going to have to make some modifications.

I googled Jap Chae and came up with some interesting options. Many Korean cooks add scrambled egg strips to the dish. That sounded pretty good, but it wasn’t meat. I also found that very thinly sliced beef was a very popular addition. That sounded good too. Unfortunately, my charming, yet “opinionated” teenaged daughter does not eat red meat. If I used beef, there would be all sorts of pouting and carrying on. Who needs that? No, I would have to save the beef version for one evening when she is at the mall. No problem. She is almost always at the mall these days!


I finally settled on something that would work for everyone involved – ground pork. Pork is meat, and it’s not red. I had all the bases covered. The only problem is that ccoked ground pork is kind of ugly. It has that kind of unappealing, grayish cast to it. Hmmm. Not good for the photos. What could I do to jazz things up a little? Ah ha! Shrimp! Cooked shrimp is pretty. I love shrimp. Shrimp is photogenic. And, shrimp goes really well with pork. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

First, I browned the pork and added a little bit of the soy sauce and sugar mixture to flavor the meat. Then, I removed it from the pan and quickly stir-fried the shrimp until it was almost cooked through. I tossed the shrimp in with the cooked pork and set it aside. After that, I followed the original recipe pretty faithfully. I did customize the vegetables a bit. I used shitake, oyster and enoki mushrooms. I couldn’t find the wood ear kind. I also used 1 1/2 times the amount of seasoning sauce and added a little mirin [3] (rice cooking wine) to it, to compensate for the pork and shrimp. Jaden did recommend cutting the noodles into shorter lengths to make them more manageable. Unfortunately, I forgot to do that. It was okay, though. We all had fun slurping them up, a la I Love Lucy [4], and whipping them around the table at each other!

I have to say, the dish was awesome. The noodles had a slight snap to them and the vegetables were just barely crunchy. I have made this dish several times since, mixing it up a little differently each time, and it is always fantastic. I did eventually try it with the sliced beef and it was great that way too.

In the end, the Caveman was happy, the smark aleck, (Um, I mean “opinionated”) Child was happy, and that, Dear Readers, makes me happy!

Jap Chae with Pork and Shrimp
Adapted from Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen

12 oz dried Korean sweet potato noodles
1 lb ground pork
1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (can use pre-sliced)
1 cup julienned carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 scallions, cut into 1” lengths
3 cups assorted sliced mushrooms (shitake, oyster, button)
1/2 lb spinach, washed and drained
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
3 tsp sugar
3 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Cooking oil as needed

Fill a large stock pot with water and put it up to boil. When boiling, add noodles and cook for 5-6 minutes. Check for doneness near the 5 minute mark. The noodles should be soft but still firm. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with 1 tsp of the sesame oil. Use kitchen shears to cut noodles into shorter pieces, if desired. Set aside.

Mix soy sauce, mirin and sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp cooking oil until hot. Brown ground pork until no pink remains. Drain meat and put back in the pan with 1 Tbsp of the soy sauce mixture. Cook a few minutes more until liquid is evaporated. Remove and set aside.

Saute shrimp for a minute or two until they turn pink. Remove and add to pork.

Saute onions and carrots, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, scallions and mushrooms, fry another 3-4 minutes.

Add spinach, noodles, pork, shrimp and soy sauce mixture. Toss well and fry 2-3 minutes more until noodles are cooked through.

Turn off heat and toss with sesame seeds and remaining 2 tsp of sesame oil.