Until just recently, I struggled big time with Chinese, Japanese, Korean and any other cuisine requiring stir frying of foods. I could whip up intricate French pastries and make a complicated Indian curry, but ask me to throw a few vegetables into a pan with some sauce without overcooking and over dousing, yeah, it was a Herculean task for me.
There was always something off; if the sauce was great then the vegetables were soggy, if the vegetables were great then the meat was colourless and rubbery. It was frustrating. For the longest time, I wanted to believe that it was the equipment I was working with and not me! It is a known fact that for a successful stir fry, one must have high heat to quickly sear meat and crisp cook the vegetables. It’s also known quite well, that domestic kitchen stoves do not have the power to attain the heat that is required. Also, if you use a wok, they cannot heat the wok evenly because of the dome bottom (you actually do learn something from watching Cooks Illustrated)
I bought carbon steel woks and lovingly, took hours seasoning them and then, I bought large expensive fry pans when I was told they would suit the kitchen stove better. The stir fries got better, but they were still pretty erratic. I didn’t give up though!
Back in April or May of last year, I came across an electric wok made by Breville in one of Williams and Sonoma’s catalogues. I checked online for reviews and ratings and found that it got excellent reviews. The wok has heating elements that heat the entire surface of the wok and so, the wok heats quickly and stays hot throughout the cooking process.
Well, of course, I had to have it! I have to say, it’s one of my most used appliances in the kitchen. It’s perfect for so many things. The first week I had it, I think I used it everyday and it definitely paid for itself in a couple of months.
So, the improvement in my stir frying ability was definitely thanks to the electric wok! The heat is great at searing the meats and cooking the vegetables crisp tender. It’s a nice and spacious wok so you can toss large amounts of noodles and not make a huge mess. I’m not selling anyone on the wok but if you’re having trouble like I had, this might help you. You can use it for more than stir frying; I make Thai curries, Indian curries, Indian stir fries, it acts like an Indian cooking wok called a kadhi.
Anyway, so all that has nothing really to do with todays post! Yes, it’s a Korean special occasion dish, but for me it was more about how I could eat gluten free noodles that weren’t rice ones. I happened upon this recipe in a Saveur email and I went out the next day to my neighbourhood Asian store and took an hour to walk the aisles and decipher packages with the stuff I needed 🙂
The noodles used for this Chap Chae Noodles are made from sweet potatoes. They are delightfully chewy and retain their shape and don’t get gummy. I adapted the recipe to what I had at home but kept the seasoning the same. The Saveur recipe didn’t include any hot sauces or condiments and I think some additions would go perfectly with this. It’s a great noodle dish and I really love the noodles themselves. I love their texture and like most noodles, they themselves don’t have any flavour but absorb the flavours around them.
Serving size: 8
- 1 lb/455g beef sirloin or round, sliced
- 1 lb/455g sweet potato noodles (called dangmyeon)
- 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 crowns broccoli, chopped in small florets
- 1 bell pepper, sliced thinly
- ½ onion, sliced thinly
- 4 green onions, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce to marinate meat
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar to marinate meat
- 4 tablespoons oil, neutral flavoured
- ½ cup/118ml soy sauce
- ½ cup/100g brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Sriracha sauce
- Korean hot sauce
- Soak the noodles in boiling water until they are tender, drain and keep to the side.
- Add the sliced beef to the sugar and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and allow to marinate.
- In a wok or a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon of oil and cook the onions, mushrooms and the peppers.
- Once they soften and are beginning to brown, add the broccoli and another tablespoon of oil.
- Cook the broccoli till crisp tender and then remove the vegetables to a bowl.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan.
- Drain the meat from the marinade and add to the pan with the garlic.
- Cook until browned about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the soy sauce and sugar and once the sugar is dissolved, add the vegetables back.
- If your pan is large enough, add the noodles to the pan and toss around.
- If not, then remove the meat and vegetables into the bowl with the noodles and toss through with your hands.
- Add the green onions, sesame oil and the sesame seeds before serving.
- Serve with lots of sriracha sauce or other hot sauce.
I hope you try these noodles if you haven’t before. What are some things you guys struggle with? Have you succeeded in over coming the hurdles? I guess practice and perseverance (and good kitchen electrics) does make perfect!
Hope you’re all having an awesome week!