The otherwise demure laptop started grumbling despairingly last evening, all the space had been exhausted, so it claimed, and unless I freed up some space, I would not be able to commence any further work.
And so I settle this morning, grudgingly, to unclutter the laptop, a mug of coffee my companion.
I am quick to realise, the culprits are pictures from vacations that have yet not found their way to my treasured hard drive that persists our vacation albums.
And it’s while I am flipping through the albums, I stumble upon this one, the man and I, contented and cheerful, standing in front of a Manhattan eatery.
And I don’t know why I allow myself to succumb to honey-sweet nostalgia.
(Pictures are such seductresses, S jokes when I tell him later in the morning, they know exactly how to draw a hypnotic you to the caverns of memory.
We had walked around Manhattan all morning and were famished.
We desperately needed a meal.
A hole-in-the-wall Korean joint around the Empire State Building had looked inviting enough for us to walk in.
Try the Japchae, the man had recommended.
The earthy meal had been finger licking delicious, enough for us to return for a second meal before we left town.
(And yes, so smitten I was by the umami of Gochujang and the alluring nutty fragrance of sesame oil, I made it a point to carry back a box of the pungent chilli paste and a bottle of the oil.)
Japchae this morning ? I propose as the man waits for his coffee to brew.
I don’t need an answer.
The smile says it all.
Japchae. Handmade noodles. A melange of carrots, mushrooms and bell peppers. A throw of baby spinach. A touch of the pungent Gochujang. A generous drizzle of sesame oil.
Japchae (Korean Stir-Fried Noodles)
- 400 g noodles (best if you manage to get freshly made noodles)
- 3 onions finely sliced
- 1/2 tbsp garlic finely chopped
- 4 carrots cut into 2inch juliennes
- 2 red bell peppers cut into 2inch juliennes
- 500 g baby spinach
- 1/3 cup green onions finely chopped
- 2 tbsp white sesame seeds lightly toasted
- 3 tbsp gochujang paste
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp honey
- 4 tbsp sesame oil
- salt to taste
- Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water till al dente. Drain from water, rinse thoroughly with cold water. Drizzle 2 tsp of sesame oil, mix well, keep aside.
- Blanch the baby spinach in boiling water for 10-15 seconds, immediately dip into iced water.
- Heat 2 tbsp of sesame oil in a pan, throw in the garlic, fry till light brown. Add the sliced onions, fry till translucent. Now throw in the carrots, add a sprinkle of salt, stir fry for 2-3 minutes over high heat. Add the bell pepper, sauté for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Take a small bowl, add the gochujang paste, soy sauce and honey. Give it a good mix.
- Take a large mixing bowl. Add the noodles, spinach and vegetables, drizzle in the sauce, give it a hearty mix. (Mix with your hands, I don’t why, it just tastes better !!). Adjust seasonings.
- Finish with a generous drizzle of sesame oil, an overload of green onions and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.
- A final mix and the Japchae is ready to serve.