The massive grocery store a half a mile from my parents’ house has had a rough life. It’s been a Giant, a Fresh World, and an All Green. Recently, it reopened as “FoodValu,” which is the third incarnation of “huge Asian and Mexican superstore with only half the store dedicated to regular American processed stuff.”
I didn’t live here for the first two incarnations, so I was thrilled. The bean aisle alone is made of dreams, the produce is mysterious, and I have yet to tackle the in-house restaurant full of Japanese and Korean food I don’t recognize. I eventually found what I was looking for in the refrigerated section next to the raw yuca and Chinese eggplant: Kimchi central. Technically I could try and make the Korean fermented cabbage condiment at home, but I think I’ll trust the experts.
I brought the smallest jar of apparently store-made kimchi home to serve with a non-intimidating stir-fry kind of dish called Japchae (recipe). While the japchae was tasty, I couldn’t stop loading the kimchi on because it was JUST. SO. GOOD. Kimchi and I clearly have a long and happy life together ahead of us.
Now that I’m sure of my commitment, I plan to make the only other kimchi dish I’ve eaten thus far: kimchi pancakes.
Note to others preparing japchae for their family: make sure you tell your family what it includes, before you catch your father putting powdered parmesan cheese on top of it.
Japchae (quick and easy Korean for newbies) via Women’s Health
2 T sesame seeds
3 T soy sauce
1 T + 1 t sugar
2 t hot pepper paste (kochugang)
1 T sesame oil
1/2 lb soba noodles (I used pre-cooked)
2 t veggie oil
1/2 med yellow onion, sliced thin
1 large carrots, cut in matchsticks
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 -2 red bell peppers, sliced thin
5 oz spinach
3 oz enoki mushrooms, end trimmed
1) Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet for several minutes until brown. Keep on em, don’t walk away. Set aside. Prepare noodles if needed.
2) Heat veg oil in pan, add yellow onion and carrot and cook 4 minutes. Add garlic, green onion, red pepper, spinach 1 tsp sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cook 3 minutes or until spinach cooked down.
3) While cooking, mix soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sugar, hot pepper paste, and sesame oil in a small bowl. When veggies are ready, add sauce and cooked noodles to pan. Heat two minutes.
4) Top with sesame seeds, mushrooms, and as MUCH KIMCHI AS YOU WANT.