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.
Noodles are one of my most favorite things in the world to eat. It's chewy, satisfying, comforting, and great for sharing. When I had Korean glass noodles (Japchae / ChapChae) for the first time, I was blown away. The noodles were VERY chewy which made it very satisfying to eat, and the sauce didn't sit on the surface of the noodles or pool up on the bottom - it was absorbed into the noodle! Fascinating eh?
When I got home I knew I HAD to recreate this. At the time, it was not easy to find recipes online like it is today and with MANY failed attempts, I finally figured out a way to make it the texture I had been seeking! So here I share my findings with you, in hopes that you can easily make these yummy Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae / ChapChae) at home anytime! 🙂
INGREDIENTS FOR JAPCHAE
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
- 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
- Try not to overdo it with too many vegetables, the chewy noodles are the star of japchae
WHAT ARE SWEET POTATO NOODLES?
20 years ago, it was a lot harder to find a Korean supermarket than it is today. I would look high and low for these noodles in Chinese supermarkets with no avail. At the time, I didn't even know how the noodles would look raw, let alone the name of the noodles so I based it all on how I 'thought' it would look raw.
Nowadays, these noodles can be found easily in any Asian supermarket. They are called 'Sweet Potato Noodles' on the packaging. They are grayish in colour and about 2 mm thick in diameter.
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! Make sure to run the tap until the water is very hot. If you can't use tap water, you can boil some water in a kettle -just make sure to let the water sit for 5-10 mins to cool before soaking the noodles in it.
Soaking the noodles created soft and pliable noodles (still raw though and needs to be cooked through). 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 it gives it a nice an easy bath without agitation at a slightly cooler temperature.
Once you have finished soaking the noodles, and the noodles are soft and pliable, cut the noodles into smaller strands so that it is easier to cook and eat. Mix a bit of sesame oil into the noodles after you have finished cutting them into smaller pieces to prevent them from sticking to each other before cooking it.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
There are a lot of ingredients in this dish, so make sure you use a large frying pan for this. Although it will look like there's a lot of ingredients, once you start cooking the noodles, it will shrink down and the vegetables will wilt as well.
First, I cooked all the vegetables together for about 5 mins and then I transferred it to another bowl. Next, I cooked the noodles, with half the soy sauce mixture and when the noodles were almost cooked and had shrunk in size by half, 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 DO YOU RE-HEAT JAPCHAE?
These are always a hit at potlucks and parties, I have never met a person who didn't love these Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae / ChapChae) 🙂 but if you are preparing this ahead of time (or have leftovers) you will eventually have to put it in the fridge. 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 and will require some re-heating. Re-heat it in the microwave a few minutes at a time (mixing in between). By using small time intervals, it will prevent the noodles from getting too hot which can melt it into a small goopy solid mound of noodles 🙂
LOOKING FOR MORE KOREAN RECIPES? TRY THESE!
- Korean Corn Cheese (Elote Style)
- Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi
- Spicy Kimchi Tofu Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)
- Stir-Fried Kimchi Rice Cakes
- Korean Fried Popcorn Turkey
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
If you made this japchae recipe, I want to see! Follow Pups with Chopsticks on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag and hashtag it with @pupswithchopsticks and #pupswithchopsticks. I love to know what you are making!
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.
Soaking the 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, cut them roughly 4 inches long and sprinkle some (sesame) oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
Putting it Together
- 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
- When the vegetables are cooked, remove the vegetables from the frying pan and put it aside.
- 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 easier to mix it with your hands when the ingredients have cooled down a bit.)
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