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Low sodium japchae (Korean stir-fried glass noodles)

This is an easy, versatile recipe that can fit any low sodium diet. Use whatever vegetables you like and keep it vegetarian or add stir fried beef or tofu.

Servings: Serves 6

Sodium: 20 mg sodium per serving (vegetarian), 70 mg sodium per serving with beef

Time: 45 minutes plus time for rehydrating dried mushrooms


12 ounces Korean glass noodles

1 bunch (6-7 ounces) kale, stems removed and chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin

8 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/2 ounce dried woodear mushrooms

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute

2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, for serving

Sauce ingredients:

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

Optional stir fried beef:

1 pound chuck steak, julienned

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar

1) Rehydrate the mushrooms - soak the shiitake and woodear mushrooms (aka dried black fungus) in 3-4 cups of water until soft. Make sure the dried shiitakes are stem side down (caps up) so that the stems rehydrate well. If you use room temperature water this will take about 2 hours, use warm/hot water and it will take about 45 minutes. You can also use fresh shiitake and woodear mushrooms if you have them. Half an ounce of dried woodear mushrooms is about a handful.

2) Cook the glass noodles according to the package and set aside. These dangmyeon (aka Korean glass or cellophane noodles) are made from sweet potato starch and have zero sodium. I buy mine from a local Korean market but you can buy them online.

3) Prepare the sauce - combine 1/4 cup soy sauce substitute, 2 tablespoons sesame oil

and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

4) Marinate the beef - if you're planning to add beef, marinate the beef in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce substitute, and 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar. Set aside and cook the beef after you cook your vegetables.

5) Prepare and sauté the vegetables (and beef).

Rinse and cut the rehydrated mushrooms into small strips. I like to keep the woodear mushrooms a little bit thicker (about 1/2 inch) but the shiitakes thinner (1/8 inch). In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce substitute and 4 cloves of minced garlic and set aside.

Sauté the kale, red bell peppers, and onions one at a time over medium-high heat with a thin coat of vegetable or canola oil for about 3-5 minutes each. I like the bell peppers and onions to be a little charred but still crunchy and the kale to be just wilted. Cook them longer if you like your vegetables softer. Sauté the mushrooms last so they have a little time to soak in their marinade.

Set aside a large bowl and add all the vegetables to the bowl after they're cooked. You're going to add the cooked noodles to this bowl so make sure it's big enough for all the vegetables and the noodles.

If you're adding beef, sauté the beef in small batches over high heat. I use a 12-inch skillet and cook just 1/3 of the beef at a time so that it cooks quickly and the meat doesn't lose much moisture.

6) Cook the noodles in the sauce - if the noodles are too long, use scissors to cut them two or three times in the colander to make them shorter. Then add a thin layer of vegetable or canola oil to a pan and set it over low heat. Add the sauce and stir the noodles just long enough to incorporate all the sauce into the noodles (about 2-3 minutes). Finally, add the noodles to your large bowl of vegetables and toss to combine.

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with a side of extra low sodium soy sauce.

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