Kelp Noodle Japchae

1 12-Ounce Package Kelp Noodles, Drained and Soaked Water with a Splash of Vinegar for 15 Minutes

2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil, Divided

8 Ounces Seitan, Thinly Sliced

1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, Thinly Sliced

1 Teaspoon Finely Minced Fresh Ginger

1 Clove Garlic, Finely Minced

6 - 8 Rehydrated Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Stems Removed, and Thinly Sliced (Soaking Liquid Reserved)

1/2 Cup Sliced Fresh Cremini or Button Mushrooms

1 - 2 Small Carrots, Julienned

1 Red Bell Pepper, Julienned

3 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon Light Agave Nectar

1 Tablespoon Mirin

1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

6 Ounces Fresh Spinach

1 Scallion, Thinly Sliced

2 - 3 Persian Cucumbers, cut into 2-inch julienne

Toasted Black or White Sesame Seeds (Optional)

While the kelp noodles are soaking (which helps to soften them up a bit,) heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large skillet. Once hot, toss in the seitan, and sauté for about 5 - 8 minutes until the pieces are all nicely browned. Move the seitan onto a plate, and let rest while you move on to the remainder of the stir-fry. Start draining the kelp noodles at this point so that they're not sopping wet when you need them.

Add the remaining sesame oil to the pan, and start by adding in the onion, ginger, and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent and highly aromatic. Toss in the mushrooms, carrots, and pepper, along with about 1/4 cup of the reserved shiitake soaking liquid, and cook for another 8 - 10 minutes, until all the veggies are softened but still crisp. Mix together the tamari, agave, mirin, and pepper, and pour the mixture into the skillet, stirring to incorporate. Add in the kelp noodles and cook for 3 - 4 minutes, to allow the flavorful liquids to become assimilated. Finally, toss in the spinach, and cook for only 30 seconds or so to lightly wilt the greens. If using kale or any heartier greens, give it another minute or so to become tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the scallion and cucumber. Top with sesame seeds if desired. Enjoy hot or let cool and eat as a salad.

Makes About 4 Servings

©Hannah Kaminsky http://www.bittersweetblog.com