Japchae, jabchae, chapchae, chop chae, or chap chae is a Korean dish traditionally made with sweet potato noodles aka dangmyeon (Korean: 당면) stir-fried in sesame oil with very thinly sliced aka julienne-cut carrots mixed with fresh spinach and thinly sliced shitake mushrooms and onion…topped with toasted sesame seeds and garnished with hot chili flakes. Served hot or cold depending on the season, japchae is vitamin-rich and considered medicine in a number of cultures within Korean society. The flavor profile of japchae is important, so I adapted it to the best of my ability to suit the diet(s) of raw foodists and the paleo inclined.
Developing this recipe proved less challenging than I’d expected, since shirataki noodles easily replicate sweet potato noodles* or vermicelli** (bean thread) in all recipes. The noodles I used for this particular recipe do not contain certain additives present in commercial brands of shiratakI. The type I buy fresh costs approx. $1.25 USD per 8oz package fresh–so for this recipe, if you choose to use fresh as opposed to dry shirataki you will spend $5 on noodles if cooking for 4-6 people. Obviously, all ingredients are vegan.
*The nearly carb-free noodles used in this recipe are made from Konjac yams as opposed to conventional yams or sweet potatoes–and often at Korean or Vietnamese grocery stores the labels do not provide translations in other languages. For this reason, I have provided the following images to assist you:
**Also called bean thread noodle, vermicelli is as high in calories as sweet potato noodle but looks the same and tastes the same. For those with an aversion [regarding flavor] or lack of availability [to purchase] shirataki noodles I recommend kelp noodles as an alternative.
Now that we’ve established* that…let’s get on with it, shall we?
*Ask in the comments or shoot me an email if certain things don’t make sense.
Raw Vegan Japchae Recipe
Makes 4-6 servings
8 ounces dried shirataki noodles or
8oz pkg fresh or reconstituted shirataki noodles
4 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
1/4 tsp stevia powdered extract or 6 to 9 drops liquid extract
4oz fresh or reconstituted shiitake mushroom, stems trimmed, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh raw carrot, very thinly sliced (julienne-cut)
1/2 cup baby spinach or chopped spinach leaves
1/2 cup scallion or green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Step 1: reconstitute and/or marinade:
*To reconstitute dried shiitake mushrooms: Cover 1 ounce dried whole shiitake mushrooms with warm tap water. Let sit until softened, at least 6 hours or overnight.
**To reconstitute dried shirataki noodles: See above.
In a small bowl, combine the tamari/soy sauce with the stevia powder or extract, lemon juice, and chili garlic-sauce. Consult the stevia conversion chart. If using powder or granules, stir until dissolved.
Soak the sliced onion, carrot, scallion, fresh shiitake mushrooms, and baby spinach with the tamari/stevia blend for 2 hours or overnight. If using reconstituted shiitake mushrooms, you can do this step overnight at the same time. Just add the mushrooms to the mix after they hydrate.
Step 2: Drain shirataki noodles and return to bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil. Drain excess stevia/soy sauce marinade from vegetables and toss with noodles. Top with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
While it’s obvious Autumn has ended (so pumpkin pie isn’t exactly en vogue), I was brainstorming what could be a nutritious, vitamin-rich, low-carb breakfast recipe– and decided that pumpkin spice pancakes were the way to go. Per 1/2 cup serving, pumpkin contains 1g sodium, 2g fiber, 1g sugar..yet only 6g carbs — at only 25 calories.
The famous and celebrated sugar cookie is hardly a new innovation. A simple go-to baked good that required few ingredients, in North America it became especially popular in the 1930s as the quintessential cookie to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve along with a glass of milk. Its history dates back much further however– according to historians the concept originated in Germany and was brought to Pennsylvania by German settlers in the 1700s. Now referred to as the “Nazareth Cookie”, this rich, crumbly, cane sugar-sweetened cookie was a surefire hit with other settlers and it spread across the nation to ultimately become as deeply rooted in American culture as meatloaf and green bean casserole. And unlike pineapple upside-down cake or Jello salad, it didn’t fall by the wayside after the 1970s. Continue reading
Lad na is a Lao-Chinese noodle dish, made popular as a street food in Laos, Thailand. Also spelled Lard na, lard nar and lard nah, it is traditionally prepared with stir-fried wide rice noodles and protein (chicken, beef or tofu), as well as enoki mushrooms aka straw mushrooms, broccoli, black bean garlic sauce and/or oyster sauce. A friend of mine suggested we try making a vegan version, and after a few minutes of research we decided it would be easy to make it vegan and low carb. First off, after looking online at photos of traditional Lad Na, I realized that wide rice noodles (the type that most recipes call for) resemble the Shiritaki noodles I’ve been using as a replacement for flat egg noodles in pad thai– like in this recipe. Secondly, the best vegetarian replacement for oyster sauce is mushroom stir fry sauce, most of the ingredients for which are already present in black bean garlic sauce. Next, I swapped an equivalent amount of stevia for sugar, and then reduced the fat content by adding a tsp of sesame oil to pre-boiled Shirataki noodles for flavor only– as opposed to frying the noodles in a wok with cottonseed oil. Lastly, sodium free vegetarian broth served as a simple replacement for the traditional beef broth. Continue reading
Ironically, since quitting grains it’s been much harder for me to give up “healthy” sweets (like oatmeal cookies). I was never much a fan of “vegan desserts” in the conventional sense. I have always disliked cake; I would eat the frosting and leave the other part behind (or pawn it off to my younger brother). Vegan chocolate cake? Whatever, I could take it or leave it. But oatmeal cookies? Now that’s another story. In high school I worked in the bakery & juice bar department at the local natural foods store. Of all the delicious vegan treats we served, my favorite was the peanut butter-banana-raspberry-Rice Dream-protein powder smoothie, followed by (at a close second) the vegan gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies. They were amazing. Best cookie I’ve ever tasted. Upon experiencing an intense feeling of nostalgia, I decided to re-create the favored cookies of my youth. I don’t remember the recipe specifically, but I do know that it involved rice flour (for which I substituted almond flour…and freshly ground flax meal for the oats). I also omitted raisins and went with (sugar free, stevia-sweetened) chocolate chunks instead (I don’t know about you, but when it comes to giving in to dessert cravings I choose chocolate over dried fruit every time). And come to think of it, I always picked out the raisins anyway. Continue reading