It’s New Year’s Eve! Again! The Lunar New Year begins tomorrow, ushering in the Year of the Water Tiger. The celebration runs for two weeks. and it starts tonight, with a family feast, sometimes called a reunion dinner.
I’m no expert on Lunar New Year festivities, but I know red and gold are lucky colors, and jap chae, also known as Buddha’s Delight, is a lucky food. It’s a glorious mix of shirataki, tofu, and vegetables, as many as 18, for each of Buddha’s original followers. Shirataki are slippery Asian noodles made from sweet potato starch that magically have no calories and are loaded with gluten-free goodness. How lucky is that?
The first time I made this, I used almost no oil, low-sodium soy sauce, and button mushrooms. It was nourishing, earnest, but not a dish to delight Buddha, or for that matter, me. Ramped up with a little sesame oil, real nama shoyu (good, aged fermenty soy sauce) and shiitakes make for a dish worthy of the Year of the Tiger.
Lesson: the key to this recipe — and perhaps the key to life: Be bold Happy New Year.
Nourishing Noodles -- Japchae
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil divided use
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger minced
- 8 ounces shirataki noodles rinsed and drained
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 carrots chopped into matchsticks
- 1 red pepper chopped
- 2 ribs celery chopped
- 3 cups Napa cabbage shredded
- 1 bunch scallions chopped fine
- 8 ounces shiitakes sliced
- 4 ounces tofu cut ito bite-sized cubes
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Parboil shirataki according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together soy, mirin, 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and minced ginger. Add the shirataki and toss to coat. Set aside.
- Heat a large dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, carrots, pepper and celery. Cook, stirring for about 3 minutes or until vegetables start to soften. Add one tablespoon of soy-mirin mixture to flavor and moisten and continue cooking.
- Add the scallions, shiitakes and cabbage. Cook another 3 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add the tofu and gently mix in the noodles and all remaining sauce.
- Drizzle remaining sesame oil on top and mix again.
- Divide into bowls and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.