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Chop Chae

(by Frances Park)

For the sauce:

3 1/2 T. soy sauce

1 T. packed brown sugar

2 T. sesame oil

2 t. minced garlic

1 T. roasted sesame seeds

black pepper to taste

1 large carrot

1 medium zucchini

1 red bell pepper

1 medium onion, preferably sweet variety

3 scallion stalks

12 oz. firm tofu

5 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or 4 - 5 dried shiitake, soaked until plump)

7 oz. Korean cellophane noodles

6 oz. fresh spinach (4 - 5 c.)

vegetable oil for stir-frying

salt, to taste

optional: 2 eggs

Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl, and mix well until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Cut carrot, zucchini, red bell pepper, and onion into julienne strips.

Split scallions by running a knife through the root ends lengthwise, and cut into 2-in. pieces.

Remove stems from mushrooms, and slice into 1/4-in. strips.

Cut tofu into cubes.

Bring a large pot half-filled with water to a boil, and cook the noodles until translucent and soft (approximately 6 - 8 minutes).

Drain in a colander, and rinse under cold water. Drain well.

Cut noodles with food shears into 8-in. lengths.

Transfer to a large bowl, and mix with 3 T. of the prepared sauce.

Add 1 T. oil to a large pan, and stir-fry the carrot and zucchini over medium high heat for 2 minutes, or until vegetables are half cooked.

Add tofu, onion, scallions, and mushrooms. Vegetables should remain crisp.

Add noodles, spinach, and remaining sauce, stirring to combine.

Optional egg garnish:

Heat a lightly oiled nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.

Beat 2 eggs, and pour into hot pan.

Cook on both sides, and fold over into an omelet.

Cool slightly, then thinly slice.

Sprinkle sliced egg over chop chae.