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How To Make Gnocchi And Two Other Types Of Sweet Potato Noodles

Here in the US, we tend to relegate sweet potatoes to desserts, ignoring them in the supermarket’s produce section until Thanksgiving. While we’ve been caramelizing and marshmallow-izing our sweet potatoes, other countries have brought the decadence much earlier into dinner.

Japchae

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Photo Credit: Hajime NAKANO

If you’ve experienced the delicate sweetness of the noodles in Japchae (or Chap Chae), you’ll probably find it hard to believe the Korean dish didn’t always include them. The core elements of Japchae were established in 17th century Korea’s version of Master Chef where various dishes were prepared for King Gwanghaegun. Yi Chang’s winning combination of vegetables would eventually include the tenderly cooked vermicelli made from sweet potato starch.

Ingredients

  • 24 oz Sweet potato glass noodles (or 1 package)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced in strips (optional)
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 3-4 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 cup beef (preferably ribeye or tri-tip), cut into thin strips or in small cubes
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • For the meat marinade: 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • pinch of salt, pepper, and sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine
  • For the noodle marinade: Olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Bring water to boil. Add the noodles and let it boil about 6 minutes. Drain water and squeeze the water out of the noodles. In large bowl, drizzle olive oil over noodles and stir constantly with chopsticks to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Add the noodle marinade and set aside.
  2. Marinade the beef; in small bowl, stir the beef in the beef marinade. Set aside and let it marinade about 20 minutes.
  3. In large skillet, add the sesame oil over high heat. Add meat, mushrooms and onions (if you’re using any) and stir about 3-4 minutes. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, and apple cider vinegar, stirring occasionally. Add the marinaded noodles to the skillet and stir to mix. Add the spinach, and continue to cook, covered, for about 4-5 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Add the salt and pepper and sugar to taste or add more soy sauce if it needs it. Continue to stir well with chopsticks or tongs until well mixed. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the beaten eggs onto a griddle or a flat pan over medium heat. (You will want to cook the eggs slowly rather than fast. The texture will be better if it is cooked over medium heat.) When the eggs are cooked, remove from heat and slice it into ½-inch strips.
  5. Top japchae with sesame seeds and sliced egg strips and serve.

Gnocchi

gnochi

Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe from the Americas and they were the object of some culinary confusion for a couple of centuries. In 1830, Joseph Bonato, a doctor, botanist, and all-around smart guy, determined that they were edible and would thrive in Northern Italy. Venetians ran with it and are credited with substituting sweet potatoes with regular potatoes in gnocchi, an Italian dish marked by its pasta vs. dumpling identity crisis.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. mashed roasted sweet potato, drained in fine mesh sieve for about 2 hours
  • 6 oz. ricotta cheese, drained in fine mesh sieve for about 2 hours
  • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • a pinch of brown sugar
  • about 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling and shaping gnocchi.

Instructions

  1. Combine sweet potato and ricotta in a large bowl. Add parmesan cheese, salt, and brown sugar. Stir until well-combined. Fold in flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until a dough is formed. Try to incorporate as little flour as possible–the dough should be slightly sticky, but not so sticky that you can’t work with it.
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Divide into 3 pieces. Using your palms, roll and stretch each piece into a 20-inch rope. Add more flour as needed.
  3. Use a knife to cut each rope into 20 one-inch pieces. If you like, you can shape gnocchi using the tines of a fork; place gnocchi on fork and gently press the center with your thumb, rocking back and forth.
  4. Boil finished gnocchi one or two handfuls at a time in a large pot of salted water for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet to cool.
  5. Saute gnocchi in a tablespoon of butter or olive oil over medium-high heat until heated through and starting to brown, about 6 minutes. You can also add minced fresh herbs (like sage or rosemary), garlic or caramelized onions.

Harusame

Japanese for “spring rain,” it’s pretty difficult for this take on Chinese glass noodles to get anymore adorable. When dry, the noodles resemble the frenetic nature of Albert Einstein’s hair, but once cooked, they make angel hair pasta look massive. Harusame, a staple in summer salads, tends to be made from potato starch, but the sweet potatoes or yams are used in certain varieties.

Ingredients:

  • 2 package of harusame noodles
  • 1 spring onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1/2 carrot

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seed, optional

Method:

  1. Slice the cucumber, spring onion, and carrot into thin strips.
  2. Beat the eggs. Heat a drop of oil in a non stick pan. Make a thin omelette with the eggs. Cut the omelette into thin strips.
  3. Cook the noodles according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Drain.
  4. Mix the ingredients for the dressing until the sugar has dissolved. Mix all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl or individual serving dish. Pour the dressing over the salad generously and toss to mix.
  5. If you intend to serve this dish chilled, keep the ingredients in the refrigerator before you mix them with the dressing.

 

By J. Fergus

J. is an overbearing pizza snob who loves putting as much sugar as possible in cupcakes and coffee. They eagerly awaits diabetes.

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