March 23, 2014

Mile-long* sweet potato noodle stir-fry

Oh I'm a fast dog. I'm fast-fast. It's true and I love being fast I admit it I love it. You know fast dogs. Dogs that just run by and you say, Damn! That's a fast dog! Well that's me. A fast dog. I'm a fast fast dog. Hoooooooo! Hooooooooooooo!
I can eat pizza. I can eat chicken. I can eat yogurt and rye bread with caraway seeds. It really doesn't matter. They say No, no, don't eat that stuff, you, that stuff isn't for you, it's for us, for people! And I eat it anyway, I eat it with gusto, I eat the food and I feel good and I live on and run and run and look at the people and hear their stupid conversations coming from their slits for mouths and terrible eyes.
—"After I Was Thrown Into the River and Before I Drowned," Dave Eggers

In high school, I wrote about Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius as my final project. I remember being awed by his confidence, his raw talent, his candor.

Hungry for more of his voice, I bought How We Are Hungry, one of his short story collections. The quote above is taken from one of the gems in there. Who else can make a dog sound wise yet simple-minded all at once? For that is how I imagine all dogs think and talk.

I love to run, too. And you know what one benefit of running is? You don't have to feel bad about eating carbs. Your body needs them to run, after all! One of my favorite carbs is noodles. I'm particularly fond of sweet potato noodles, the kind found in Korean japchae—but I recently started using these to make other dishes, too. These noodles are incredibly long (*not quite mile-long, but close enough), so most recipes will suggest that you cut them with scissors to make them easier to eat.

Feel free to substitute the fish cake with some other form of protein, such as chicken, pork, shrimp, beef, egg, or tofu.

Stir-Fried Sweet Potato Noodles With Fish Cake
1 12-oz. package of dangmyeon (a.k.a. glass or sweet potato starch noodles)
1/2 cup minced chives
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, minced or grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fish cake (straight from the freezer is fine)
Sesame oil
Soy sauce
Roasted Sesame seeds

Boil the dangmyeon in a pot of water according to the package instructions. Drain and toss in sesame oil. Set aside.

In a large wok, heat olive oil and chives, onion, carrots, garlic and fish cake. Let cook for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are slightly softened. Toss in the cooked dangmyeon and drizzle with some soy sauce and sesame oil. Toss in the sesame seeds. Stir until everything is combined and the noodles are heated through, another 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

This dish makes a ton of servings—enough for 4 hungry people who need to stock up on carbs to run, or 6 normal people. Tastes great heated up in the microwave the next day. Do not serve straight out of the refrigerator, because the noodles harden when they're cold. But once heated, they become soft and chewy again.

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