Jap Chae with Prawns

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My mum used to make this dish for dinner parties, so it always has a special-occasion feel for me. I love the springiness of Korean sweet potato noodles (which, by the way, are gluten-free), but they sometimes get a little long and/or tangled. If that happens, just cut them with kitchen scissors after cooking and rinsing them. Traditionally, this dish is made with beef; here I’ve used prawns, but you can substitute any protein, including tofu, scallops or chicken.

Ingredients

SERVES 6

Noodles

Eggs

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a splash of water

Prawns

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 24 tiger prawns, peeled (including tails, if liked) and deveined, and patted dry
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tbsp mirin

Vegetables

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 chestnut, button or shiitake mushrooms, destemmed and sliced
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 (140 g/5 oz) pack baby spinach
  • 3 spring onions, cut into 5 cm (2 in) pieces

Sauce

To Serve

  • 1⁄2 spring onion, cut lengthways into thin strips, soaked in ice water until curled and then drained
  • Black sesame seeds

Method

FOR THE NOODLES

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the noodles and cook according to the pack instructions until soft. Briefly rinse in cold water and then drain well. Transfer to a large bowl, toss with the soy sauce until coated and set aside.

FOR THE EGGS

In a medium non-stick frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Beat the salt into the eggs, then add the egg mixture to the pan, swirling to evenly coat the base. Cook for about 2 minutes, without touching, until the egg is set but just barely browned on the base. Flip and continue to cook for a further 15–20 seconds until the base is set, again trying not to get too much colour on the egg. Slide onto a chopping board, carefully roll into a log and cut crossways into thin strips. Set the egg strips aside and wipe out the pan.

FOR THE PRAWNS

Add the oil to the frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 10 seconds, stirring frequently until fragrant. Don’t let the garlic brown. Add the prawns, season with salt and cook for 11⁄2 minutes, stirring frequently until the prawns are barely pink. Add the mirin and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the prawns are cooked through. Transfer the prawn mixture to a bowl.

FOR THE VEGETABLES

In the same pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently until slightly softened. Add any juices from the bowl of prawns and toss to coat. Add the mushrooms and carrot and cook until slightly softened. Add the spinach in handfuls, tossing with the other ingredients and adding more as it wilts. Cook for 2–3 minutes until all the spinach is wilted. Add the spring onions and drained noodles and toss together.

FOR THE SAUCE

Add the sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce and salt to the pan. Toss well and cook for 2 minutes until the noodles are heated through and glossy. Add the egg strips and prawns and gently toss.

Transfer to a platter, top with the spring onion curls and sesame seeds and serve immediately

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