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          Japchae[Glass Noodles with Sauteed Vegetables]
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          • 요약설명 Seasoned with Love

          Japchae (glass noodles with sautéed vegetables) is made by boiling glass noodles, draining and mixing them with stir-fried spinach, carrots, mushrooms, beef and onions. It is both a special dish and a versatile favorite. It has been chosen as one of the most popular Korean dishes in the world, along with Bulgogi, Galbi-gui, and Bibimbap.

          A Classic Dish on Festive Days
          No Korean festivity is complete without Japchae. It has long been perceived as a luxurious and elegant dish and was always served on birthdays, weddings and 60th birthday celebrations. Japchae was first created in the 17th century when King Gwanghaegun hosted a palace banquet. The Gwanghaegun Ilgi (Daily Records of King Gwanghaegun’s Reign) records that Yi Chung, one of the king’s favorites, had the habit of personally presenting unusual dishes to the king. Gwanghaegun relished these dishes so much that he would not start a meal until they arrived. Among these, it was Japchae that most captivated the heart of the king. Traditional Japchae was made purely with vegetables, lacking the glass noodles that characterize the current style of Japchae. It was also recorded that thinly-sliced and sautéed vegetables would be placed in a plate and topped with a special sauce, along with Sichuan pepper (cheoncho), black pepper, and ginger powder. The special sauce was concocted by combining pheasant broth, strained soybean paste and wheat flour, and then reducing it to a thick consistency.

          Old-style Japchae without Glass Noodles
          The term ‘Japchae’ is a combination of ‘Jap,’ meaning ‘mix, gather, or plentiful’ and ‘Chae’, meaning ‘vegetables.’ Thus, it can be translated as ‘assorted mixed vegetables.’ The current form of Japchae made with glass noodles became common after a dangmyeon (glass noodles made from sweet potato starch) factory was first erected in Sariwon in 1919. It became popular only after 1930. Recently, first Lady Kim Yoon-ok made Japchae during a CNN interview, drawing considerable attention. Ms. Kim invited reporters from CNN to the Cheongwadae (presidential residence) and prepared japchae, slicing and pan-frying all the ingredients herself. Notably, when mixing the boiled glass noodles with the other ingredients, she used her hands rather than utensils to demonstrate the traditional mantra that “taste comes from the finger tips of a loving mother.”

          Boiled glass noodles may swell if left unattended for too long. So, in order to prepare a large batch of japchae, the glass noodles can simply be steeped in hot water instead of boiled before stir-frying.

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