An easy japchae recipe (Korean stir-fried glass noodles) seasoned lightly with sweet soy sauce, sesame oil, and a variety of vegetables and perfectly chewy bouncy glass noodle texture without boiling the noodles in water.
WHAT IS JAPCHAE?
Japchae (잡채) is a very popular stir-fried Korean noodle dish that is typically a side dish but it can also be eaten as a main dish as well. The highlight of this dish is the springy and chewy and incredibly flavorful glass noodles which are combined with a variety of colorful vegetables and cooked in a sweet and savory sauce. This recipe does not contain any meat in it, so it can be an option for vegetarians as well. If you're looking to make this a main dish, you can add strips of stir-fried meat to it and serve it on a bed of rice.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS VERSION OF JAPCHAE
- I streamlined the process of this recipe so that you will not have to boil the noodles in water. The result makes perfectly chewy noodles so that you don't need to worry about overcooking it.
- Since the noodles will not be fully cooked from the soak, the sauce (which has extra water) will fully cook the noodles all the way through while you are stir-frying. This will let the noodles absorbed even more sauce into it which will give it even more flavor.
INGREDIENTS FOR THIS RECIPE
Although these are not traditional ingredients, you can definitely add extra ingredients to spice it up as well! A few ideas to get you started
- Egg - Plain omelet cut into thin ribbons, or if you're pressed for time, quickly scramble the egg and set it aside to add at the end when you are mixing the noodles
- Peppers - I like to use yellow, orange, or red bell peppers for their sweeter flavor.
- Shiitake Mushrooms - I like to cook these ahead of time in a sweet soy sauce, and then cut them into thin slices
- Meat - This is not a traditional ingredient, but I have added in leftover meats in the past for a heartier noodle dish.
- Zucchini - Cut these into thin ribbons and mix it right in!
- Garlic - Adds a bit of extra flavor, but I like to keep this optional because it can overpower the dish.
- Vegetables - I like to stick to the basic vegetables which are carrots, onions, green onions, spinach, and peppers
- Sesame seeds - For more flavor, garnish this Korean noodle dish with lots of toasted sesame seeds
WHAT ARE SWEET POTATO NOODLES?
Korean glass noodles (dangmyeon 당면) are a type of Korean vermicelli made with sweet potato starch. They are slightly thicker than Chinese glass noodles and are about 2 mm thick in diameter. When they are cooked, they turn into a clear and shiny noodle with a springy texture when they are not overcooked. They do not contain any wheat so they are a good option for any type of gluten-free diet. They are fantastic at soaking up sauces which make them incredibly flavorful
HOW TO GET SPRINGY (NOT MUSHY) NOODLES
- On almost every noodle packaging instruction that I found, they always teach you to boil the noodles first. Don't do it! 🙂 Seriously.
- What I found worked amazingly was just soaking the noodles for 20 mins in hot water. I just used hot tap water for simplicity but make sure to run the tap until the water is very hot. Alternatively, you can also use boiling water from a kettle - just make sure to let the water sit for 5-10 minutes to let it cool before soaking the noodles in it.
- I found boiling the noodles in a pot, agitated the starches too much and it kept the water at a constant boiling point which would usually overcook the noodles on the outside but still had raw centers - the result would be mushy noodles. Soaking in hot water softens the noodles evenly through
- Soaking the noodles created soft and pliable noodles but they will still be slightly raw. When I cook the noodles, I mix in a bit of water to the sauce to cook the noodles all the way through with the sauce - this will absorb more of the sauce directly into the noodles and will make it much more flavorful.
HOW TO MAKE JAPCHAE
- Preparation is important for this dish, so you will have to pre-cut all the vegetables ahead of time. You can use this time to also soak the noodles in hot water while you are preparing the vegetables and making the sauce.
- There are a lot of ingredients in this dish, so make sure you use a large frying pan for this.
- First, I cooked all the vegetables together for about 5 mins until they were soft and then I transferred it out of the pan to another bowl and set it aside for later.
- Once the noodles were soft, I would drain the water out of the boil and cut them into 4-inch length pieces. I cooked the noodles, with half the soy sauce mixture and when the noodles were almost cooked (they will look shiny and translucent), I added the vegetables back into the frying pan and added the other half of the soy sauce mixture.
- ...and voila! 🙂 You're done! Time to enjoy your chewy Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae / ChapChae)!
HOW TO RE-HEAT JAPCHAE
Once you put these noodles in the fridge, the starch in the noodles will harden from the cold so you can't serve them straight from the fridge. I find the best way to re-heat it is to put it microwave for one minute at a time, (for up to a few minutes) while mixing it with a utensil in between minutes to prevent cold spots. By using small time intervals, it will prevent the noodles from getting too hot too quickly which can melt its delicate texture springy texture.
LOOKING FOR MORE KOREAN RECIPES?
- Korean Corn Cheese (Elote Style)
- Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi
- Spicy Kimchi Tofu Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)
- Stir-Fried Kimchi Rice Cakes
- Korean Fried Popcorn Turkey
LOOKING FOR MORE RECIPE IDEAS?
Chewy Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae / ChapChae)
- 400 g sweet potato noodles
- 1-2 carrots (cut into matchstick slivers, approximately 1 ½ cups)
- 1 bundle spinach (approximately 1 cup after it has been cooked and wilted)
- 1-2 peppers (sliced into thin strips, approximately 1 ½ cups)
- 1 onion (medium-sized, sliced, approximately 1 cup)
Toppings & Garnishes
- 2 stalks green onion (finely chopped)
- toasted sesame seeds
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the Sweet Soy Sauce mixture and set aside. Make sure you mix the hot water with the sugar first so it can dissolve it.
- Peel the carrot and cut them into thin matchstick sizes. Set aside.
- Slice the onions and peppers. Set aside
- Boil the spinach for 2 mins. Once it is done, run it under cold water to stop the cooking process and squeeze and squeeze all the water out. The texture should be dry and not soggy. Set aside. Optional: Season it with a little salt.
- Toast sesame seeds in a frying pan on low heat until brown. Set aside.
Preparing the Sweet Potato Glass Noodles
- In a large bowl, add hot water (tap or kettle boiled). Add noodles in for 20 mins to soak. [If you are using kettle boiled water, let it cool for 5-10 mins before soaking].
- After 20 mins, when the noodles are soft and pliable, drain the water out and cut them roughly 4 inches in length. Set it aside for later.
Cooking the Japchae
- In a large non-stick frying pan, add oil and adjust the heat to medium to medium low.
- Once the oil has warmed up, add in the veggies (except the green onions) and cook them for approximately 5 mins until the vegetables are soft.
- When the vegetables are soft, remove them from the frying pan onto a plate and set it aside for later.
- Add a little more oil and wait until it is up to temperature again.
- Add the noodles and half the soy sauce mixture and cook for about 2-3 mins. Keep flipping the noodles, until they are transparent and glossy and no longer translucent.
- When the noodles are almost done, add the vegetables back in and add in the remainder of the soy sauce mixture and cook for another 1-2 mins.
- Turn off the heat and add in the green onions and sesame seeds and mix well. (It's might be easier to mix it with your hands)
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