Sunday Night Snack Shots
Week 3: Japchae
Last week we got down and dirty with Bibimbap . This week, it’s a little noodle goodness with japchae.
For more than 50 Korean recipes and a whole heck of a lot of original photos, please check out our new cookbook, The Ubiquitous Kimchi @ www.blurb.com/my/book/detail/1091970 .
Japchae. 잡채. Vegetable Beef Vermicelli
1 large package spinach, rinsed and trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons sesame oil
10 ounces of dangmyeon (sweet potato noodles)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 ounces beef sirloin, sliced thin
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced thin
8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 medium carrot, julienned
3 scallions, sliced
3 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon sugar
Toasted sesame seeds
1. Blanch the spinach in boiling water and rinse immediately under cold running water. Squeeze the spinach gently into a ball, removing any excess water. Cut the spinach ball twice with scissors.
2. In a large bowl, mix the spinach with 1 clove of the minced garlic and ½ teaspoon of the sesame oil.
3. Cook dangmyeon in a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until transparent. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold running water. Cut noodles in half with scissors and add to the bowl of spinach, mixing well.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil. Stir-fry until the beef is half-way cooked, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion, mushrooms and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the scallions and stir-fry for another minute. Remove from heat.
5. Add the beef and vegetable mixture to the bowl of noodles. Combine well, adding 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and the sugar.
Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.
Tools: SB-80DX (x2), air impact light stands (x2), Flashwaves Triggers, cereal box grid spot (2cm), Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 micro lens, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens
Japchae isn’t one of the foods you really want to play around with. The soy sauce stains everything and the noodles are slippery; in a word, japchae can be messy. so we went with a simple, classic approach and settled on the shot above. We set up two softboxes at first, but there was too much spill in the foreground; I wanted some shadows and a little depth in the OOF areas. So I slapped on my trust 50 cent cereal box grid spot an fired away; two lights, a dozen frames and we were done.
Note that you should, in many cases, light food from behind when using the hard grid light, as bouncing it from overhead or dropping it in face first is going to create awkward, unappealing flatness throughout the affected area. And no one wants to look at appealing food. No one!
Remember NOT to shoot your food photos from a wobbly chair while balancing yourself on one leg. We are now down to one functional chair and half a brainless photographer at Flash Parker Studios. RIP, chair. You were a good one.