Easy Japchae (Korean Glass Noodle Stir-Fry)
Make japchae, the popular Korean glass noodle stir-fry, effortlessly with this easy recipe. With chewy sweet potato noodles, colorful veggies, and tender meat, this dish delivers the authentic taste of Korean japchae without any hassle.
“Amazing taste! Easy to make. Hardest part was finding the right noodles. Can’t wait to make this recipe again.”Maria
During my college years in the U.S., a Korean professor kindly hosted a dinner for Korean international students. His wife, renowned for her cooking, was even more beloved by the students than her husband’s academic achievements.
She presented a spread of iconic Korean dishes. But what truly stood out was her take on Japchae, the famous Korean glass noodle stir-fry. The texture and rich taste were unforgettable.
I was fortunate to watch her prepare this delicious Korean noodle dish from scratch. Like many Korean mothers, she didn’t have a written recipe to share, but she kindly explained every step of the cooking process.
Her japchae recipe is simpler than the version my mother used to make, which took a long time to prepare. If you’re looking for an authentic and easy-to-prepare recipe for Korean noodles, this is it!
What is Japchae?
Japchae, sometimes spelled chapchae (잡채), is a tasty Korean noodle dish consist of sweet potato noodles mixed with colorful vegetables and juicy meat. It’s known for its chewy texture of noodles and flavorful mix of ingredients.
The word “Japchae” means mixed vegetables. Originally, this dish didn’t have noodles. Today, it’s famous for its sweet potato noodles, called dangmyeon, mixed with colorful veggies and delicious meat.
The dish is a staple for special events and holidays like New Year’s Day and Korean Thanksgiving. However, it’s also a favorite in everyday Korean meals. It’s perfect for anyone looking to try authentic Korean flavors!
While Japchae is often a side dish, you can also have it as a main dish by placing it over rice, creating what’s known as Japchae-bap (잡채밥). Pairing it with Jajangmyeon (Korean black bean noodles) is a popular combination.
What Makes This Japche Recipe Different
Japchae is like bibimbap, where each part, from meat to vegetables, is made one by one. Even if it takes a while, it makes the dish taste great with a mix of flavors and textures.
But don’t worry if you want that real taste without all the work. I’ve made the recipe easier. With some shortcuts, you can enjoy homemade Japchae with less effort.
- Skip Boiling the Noodles: Just let them sit in hot water for a bit. Later, they’ll get cooked in the japchae sauce. This means faster cooking and less mess.
- One-Pan Veggies: Start by cooking the veggies that take longer, like onions, carrots, and peppers. Then, toss in greens and mushrooms. This way, you cook faster and all the veggies taste great.
- Use the Meat Juice: After cooking beef, keep the tasty juice in the pan. Mix it with the japchae sauce. It makes the noodles extra flavorful and yummy.
- Maximizing Leftovers: If you have leftover beef bulgogi, it’s perfect for the japchae recipe, allowing you to bypass the meat preparation step.
- To make vegetarian japchae: simply omit the beef. The dish remains delicious even without it.
Dangmyeon (Sweet Potato Noodles)
No Japchae is complete without dangmyeon in Korean kitchen. These Korean glass noodles, derived from sweet potato starch, are quintessential in dishes like Andong jjimdak (Korean Braised Chicken) or Galbitang (beef short rib soup).
Japchae noodles are generally considered healthier than traditional pasta noodles made from wheat. They are gluten-free, thanks to the sweet potato starch noodles, and contain complex carbohydrates.
Where to buy japchae noodles (dangmyeon):
Dangmyeon can be easily obtained from Korean or Asian markets. They are often labeled as Korean potato vermicelli or Korean cellophane noodles. Ensure they are authentic Korean dangmyeon.
Online stores is another viable option. If you’re not a fan of long noodle strands, choose for precut noodles or simply snip the regular ones to your desired length.
- Dangmyeon: Sweet potato noodles pivotal for the recipe.
- Veggies: Onion, carrot, pepper, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms are essential.
- Meat: Beef or pork add a depth of flavor. Vegetarians can exclude this.
For Japchae Sauce
- Usual things like soy sauce, garlic, and sugar.
- Some special stuff like sweet rice wine (mirin).
- Oils, pepper, and sesame seeds to make everything taste even better.
How to make Japchae (Korean Glass Noodle Stir-Fry)
- Put the glass noodles (dangmyeon) in hot water for 15 minutes.
- After that, remove the water and keep the noodles to the side. This step makes them soft and ready to cook with sauce.
Meat Marinade and Sauce
- Cut beef (or pork) into thin sticks, about 1/4-inch wide. Go against the way the fibers run.
- Mix them with soy sauce, sugar, and sweet rice wine. Then, keep them to the side to marinate.
- Mix all the sauce seasoning ingredients in a bowl and keep to the side.
Stir-frying japchae vegetables
- Warm up 1 tablespoon of oil in a big pan on medium-high heat. Put in onion, carrot, pepper, and a little salt. Cook them until they’re soft but have a slight crunch to complement the soft noodles.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms and a bit more salt. Cook until they’re soft too. If it gets too dry, add a bit more oil.
- Right at the end, add spinach and cook it until it’s soft. Then, take everything out of the pan and put it on a big plate to cool down.
Cooking the Meat
- Heat the pan up again on high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and then the beef (or pork). Cook until it’s done. You’ll notice juice from the meat.
- Move the meat to the plate with the veggies, but leave the juice in the pan.
Seasoning the Noodles
- Put the drained noodles in the pan with the meat juices. Pour the seasoning sauce over them.
- Cook over medium heat until the noodles are very soft and most of the sauce is soaked up, which should take about 3-4 minutes.
Toss all together
- Turn the heat down low. Put the veggies and meat back in the pan on top of the noodles.
- Add some sesame oil and seeds. Mix everything well. Add more sesame oil if you like. Check the taste and add more seasoning if you want.
Storage and Reheating Tips
If you do need to store it, make sure you let it cool down to room temperature first; this will prevent the noodles from becoming soggy.
Once cooled, place it in airtight containers to maintain its freshness and avoid any other flavors from getting in. Properly stored in the refrigerator, Japchae can last up to a week.
While microwaving is a quick option, it might alter the texture of the noodles. When reheating Japchae, it’s best to use a skillet or wok. Their broad surface helps the dish reheat uniformly so that every part warms up at the same pace.
- Turn your stove to medium heat, adding a little oil or water if needed to avoid the dish sticking to the pan.
- Keep stirring the Japchae until the noodles turn clear and feel like they did originally, which should be in just a short while.
- After reheating, serve your Japchae right away to get the most out of its freshened-up taste and feel.
More Popular Korean Recipes
Check out these easy and authentic Korean recipes. Some of the well known dishes that you shouldn’t miss are:
- Bulgogi Recipe (Korean Beef)
- Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cake)
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Roll)
- Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi (Jeyuk Bokkeum)
- Galbi-Jjim (Korean Braised Beef Short Ribs)
- Dakgangjeong (Crispy Korean Chicken Nuggets)
Easy Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles Stir-Fry)
- 8 oz (226 g) Korean glass noodles (dangmyeon)
- 6 oz (170 g) beef sirloin, or pork loin. See note below for the vegan/vegetarian option
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- a few pinches salt
- 5-6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 bunch (about 6 oz, 170 g) spinach, cleaned
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
For the glass noodles
- Soak the glass noodles in hot water for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside. Pre-soaking will soften the noodles and make them easier to cook.
For the meat seasoning
- Slice beef (or pork) into thin match sticks (about 1/4-inch thick) against grain and season with soy sauce, sugar, and sweet rice wine; set aside.
For the Japchae sauce
- In a mixing bowl, combine all the japchae sauce ingredients, and set aside.
To cook Japchae
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, pepper, and a pinch of salt; stir-fry until soft but have a slight crunch to complement the soft noodles. Add sliced shiitake mushrooms and another pinch of salt. Continue to stir-fry until soft. Add more oil if needed.
- Add spinach at the end and stir-fry until spinach is wilted. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the vegetables to a large plate to cool.
- Reheat the pan over high heat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, add the beef (or pork) and stir-fry until fully cooked. You will see the juice coming out from the meat. Transfer the meat to the large plate with the reserved vegetables, reserving the juice in the pan.
- Add the drained glass noodles to the pan with the meat juices. Pour the japchae sauce over the noodles and toss to combine. Let the noodles cook over medium heat until they are soft and the sauce liquid is mostly absorbed into the noodles, about 3-4 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the vegetables and meat back to the pan over the noodles. Add sesame oil and sesame seeds and toss all together to incorporate. Drizzle more sesame oil if you wish. Taste and season more according to your taste.