Japchae-long rice hybrid

We had a luau at work several months ago because.. well… pineapple was on sale.  Why else would you have a luau?  I decided to give a classic hawaiian potluck style dish a shot – Chicken Longrice.  In my search for a recipe, I came across a website that I don’t know if I could have survived without. The Domestic Man  has such a great accumulation of recipes and simple preparation.   Plus, we seem to have similar taste in food,  however he seems quite a bit more adventurous than I am!  Regardless, I came across a recipe for the most intriguing looking dish, something that he refers to as a combination of Chicken Long Rice and Japchae.  In the end, my dish appears to have more in common with japchae than long rice, but it really doesn’t conform to either.  This was a super quick and easy recipe to throw together.  Under 30 minutes, and I had 6-8 hearty servings.  The only caveat is that this requires a couple ingredients that I haven’t seen at any of my regular grocery or high-end grocery stores.  They required a trip to our local asian supermarket.  You can also get them online, but even on Amazon, some of that stuff is crazy expensive compared to Uwajimaya. The not so bad thing about that is that both of the items are shelf-stable and fairly cheap, so I tend to stock up on them when I go, then they’re ready to go in my pantry whenever it strikes my fancy to make something requiring either of them.

japchae
Sweet potato starch noodles – or dangmyeon – I’m pretty sure the bag size that I use is 12oz, but there are only 2 things that are in english on the entire bag, ingredients and limited nutrition information.  They tend to have a fairly unappetizing grayish cast.  Look past it. They don’t taste as weird as they look.  In fact, they taste magnificent.  I toss mine into a pot of just boiled chicken stock, turn it off, and let it soak.  They absorb as much moisture as they seem to want, and do fine sitting in additional liquid. They don’t get gummy or break down or get yucky after sitting either. They stay tender, supple, and firm.  This makes them way better than rice noodles or pasta for any type of leftovers, plus… well… they’re paleo, delicious, and so pretty!
black fungus
Dried Black Mushrooms – or as the packaging so appetizingly puts it “Black Fungus.” It’s those little strands of mushrooms that you get in dishes like mu shu pork.  They reconstitute easily in some hot chicken stock and are so nice.  You could probably use something like dried shiitakes also, but I haven’t experimented with them and these are so cheap and tasty and novel!
The recipe:
4 cups/1qt chicken stock
(optional aromatics: 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed; 1 small onion, sliced into fine ribbons)
12oz sweet potato starch noodles (dangmyeon)
1 handful of dried black mushrooms
2-3 T high heat oil
1-2lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 large head napa cabbage,cut into 1/2″ strips and washed
1 large handful fresh spinach
Necessary condiments:
Soy, tamari, or coconut aminos
Sesame oil
Hot chile oil
(Optional: fish sauce)
japchae
The method:
*Heat up your chicken stock in a 4qt or larger pot.  I used a small dutch oven, because I like it.  If your stock isn’t particularly garlicky or oniony (I tend to make mine pretty heavy on those 2 things). add the optional aromatics.
*When the stock has reached a simmer, turn off the heat and stick your noodles in the pot and cover to soften.  Pull out maybe a cup of stock and put it in a small bowl with your mushrooms to soften.
*Heat up a large sauté pan over medium-high and add 1-2T oil (I used avocado, though light olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, or sunflower oil would all be good options here).  Add your chicken thighs, and allow to brown on both sides and cook through.  When cooked, remove to a cutting board to rest.
*Add remaining oil, cabbage, and carrots.  Sauté until cabbage and carrots have softened and begun to develop a little caramelization. 
*Once noodles have plumped and softened and don’t appear to be absorbing any additional liquid, scoop stock out and set aside until the liquid level is below that of the noodles.  Remove mushrooms from liquid and add them to noodles.
*After allowing them to rest for 5 minutes or so, chop chicken thighs into 1/2-1″ pieces (or whatever makes you happy) and add to noodles.
*When you’re satisfied with how the cabbage and carrots are cooked, remove from heat and dump them in the noodles.
*Throw your handful of spinach into the mixture, stir, cover, and allow to sit for a couple minutes.
*Once the spinach has wilted, pull a couple noodles out of the pot and taste for seasoning.  Mine needed several tablespoons of tamari for salt, as I don’t salt my chicken stock.  If I had remembered, I’d have put a few dashes of fish sauce in.  Additionally, a few dashes each of sesame oil and chile oil.  Craig isn’t a fan of sesame or much heat, but I love sesame and am developing a fondness for spice, so I went conservative on the pot and added additional sesame and chile oil to my individual serving.
Enjoy this dish!  Add whatever you have lying around needing to be used in your kitchen!  Bell peppers might be nice, or celery, water chestnuts, anything else.

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