Japchae is commonly served as Banchan (a side dish) though it's often eaten as a main dish. In ancient times this dish was revered as a royal food by Koreans. Now, it's one of the most popular dishes at Korean tables; served at celebrations like weddings, birthdays and family gatherings. In my life, it's a dish that reminds me of my sister. She's the Japchae maker in my family and I've adapted her recipe that infuses the Southern roots from my Dads side of the family with the addition of collard greens. I made the swap from spinach, the more traditional green used. Collards adds amazing texture and tons of vitamin A & iron.
You can find Korean Yam Noodles (often called glass noddles) in the specialty Asian aisle in well-stocked grocery stores or you can order from Walmart or Amazon. The package contains enough noodles to make this recipe twice.
Wakame seaweed can be found at Asian specialty stores or in well-stocked grocery stores. In addition, you can order a package online.
Collard Green Jap Chae
FOR THE SAUCE:
3 tablespoons light agave or honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias
FOR THE JAP CHAE:
7 ounces Korean yam noodles
2 medium carrots, peeled
1/4c wakame seaweed, broken into small pieces if necessary
2 pound collard greens, destemmed and coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grapeseed or vegetable oil
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
2 medium scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
Korean Chili Pepper or red pepper flakes for serving
FOR THE SAUCE:
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
FOR THE JAP CHAE:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the noodles according to the package directions. Rinse in cold water and drain. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl and cut with kitchen shears or a knife into 6 -7 inch lengths. Meanwhile, prep the vegetables and cook the collard greens.
Slice the carrots crosswise into thin coins and transfer to another large bowl.
Submerge the wakame seaweed in a bowl of cold water and let sit until soft and pliable, about 5 minutes. Squeeze out any excess liquid, cut into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl with the carrots.
Fill another bowl with ice water and set aside. Place the collard greens in a pot of salted boiling water and cook until just wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, transfer to the ice water and swish around until cooled. Working in batches, squeeze out any excess water from the greens and cut into about 2-inch lengths. Transfer the bowl with the carrots and seaweed and season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the sauce to the bowl and stir to combine.
Add half of the oil to a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring rarely, until they are golden brown in spots and cooked through about, 2 - 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the vegetables.
Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the jalapeño and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and crisp tender, about 1 - 2 minutes. Add the reserved noodles and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent and a bit sticky (about 4 minutes).
Add the contents of the bowl with the vegetables and the remaining sauce to the skillet and cook, tossing to combine. until warmed through and mixed well. Taste and season as desired.
Transfer the Jap Chae to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the scallions and red pepper flakes (if desired) and serve immediately.