Japchae (Korean Stir-Fried Starch Noodles with Beef and Vegetables)

(photo added 1/23/2013)

Japchae literally means “mixed vegetables.” But the main ingredient of this classic dish is Korean sweet potato starch noodles (dangmyeon), also known as glass noodles. The chewy and springy noodles are nicely paired with thin strips of beef and various vegetables (such as carrots, spinach, onions, shiitake mushrooms, cucumbers, and bell peppers). All ingredients, separately cooked to develop the layers of flavor, are combined at the end into a deliciously colorful dish. This classic method is what makes this dish special and a Korean favorite for special occasions and traditional holidays. Serve it as a first course or side dish or over a bed of rice to make it a main dish.

4 Servings
Ingredients:
6 ounces (170 grams) Korean potato starch noodles (dangmyeon)
4 – 5 dried shiitake mushrooms* (soaked until plump)
4 ounces (110 grams) lean beef such as sirloin or rib eye
6 ounces (170 grams) fresh spinach
1 small carrot
1 small sweet onion
2 scallions

vegetable oil for stir frying
salt and pepper

* Dried shiitake is ideal for its concentrated flavor and meatier texture, but you can use any kind of fresh/dried mushrooms such as oyster or button mushrooms.

Sauce:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds

Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well until the sugar is dissolved.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the noodles according to the package directions (usually 6 – 7 minutes). Rinse in cold water and drain. Cut the noodles with kitchen shears or a knife into 6 -7 inch lengths. Mix in 2 tablespoons of the prepared sauce in a large bowl.  


Cut the beef into thin 2-inch long strips and mix with 1 tablespoon of the sauce. Cut stems off the mushrooms and slice into 1/4-inch thin strips. Season with 1 tablespoon of the sauce. Blanch the spinach in boiling water only until wilted. Drain quickly and shock in cold water. Squeeze out excess water, cut into about 2-inch lengths, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cut the carrot into match sticks. Thinly slice the onion. Cut the scallions into similar lengths.

In a large non-stick skillet, stir fry the noodles over medium heat, stirring frequently, until translucent and a bit sticky (about 3 – 4 minutes). Transfer back to the large bowl. Stir fry each vegetable (except the spinach) separately with 1 teaspoon of oil over medium high heat, lightly sprinkling with salt and pepper, about 1 – 2 minutes. (Do not overcook. The vegetables should be crisp.) Stir fry the beef, about 1 – 2 minutes. Transfer the vegetables and beef to the large bowl with the noodles as each is cooked.

Combine all the ingredients and the remaining sauce. Toss well by hand. Adjust the seasoning to taste by adding a little more soy sauce and/or sugar.

Tips: The real secret to successfully create the authentic flavors of this dish is to find the right balance between soy sauce and sugar. You might think the amount of sugar this recipe calls for is a lot, but it is needed to balance the flavors. It does not make the dish too sweet.

Also, leftover japchae should be kept refrigerated. Japchae reheats well in the microwave. The noodles will get soft and chewy again.

Comments

  1. I just made this on Saturday and it was SOOO DELICIOUS!!! I didn’t use beef or the shiitake mushrooms (i dont like mushrooms) but it still tasted incredible and I didn’t stop eating until I was 3rd trimester food pregnant!

    thank you soo much for the recipe :)

  2. I am so glad to hear you liked it. Thanks for trying my recipe!

  3. Made this for dinner tonight – fantastic. Thanks mom!

    Chris

  4. You’re welcome! Happy to hear it turned out well for you.

  5. This was so good! Made them for dinner with ingredients I have at home (w/o bell pepper, scallions and added strips of egg omelette). It was so delicious. And you are right about the composition of salt & sugar to make the dish flavourful. Really enjoyed it – thank you for sharing!

  6. Thank you, Lisa, for letting me know how it turned out for you! Glad to hear you liked it. It’s great that you made it with whatever you had in your fridge. Japchae is that versatile. Cheers!

  7. I just made this on Friday. For more color, I used purple-potato dangmyun. It was pretty:) Aside from my totally over-blanching the spinch(I walked away:/bad idea), everything came out just dandy. Thanks for sharing your recipes with us!

    • Happy to hear that! Thanks for letting me know. I have to try purple dangmyun. I bet it was pretty. I do that (walk away or try to do something else) too sometimes when I blanch something. Happy cooking!

  8. Lilluz says:

    I shared it with my friends and we all enjoyed it very much! My Korean husband commented that your recipe has a deep flavor similar to authentic japchae! Thank you :)

  9. 정말 맛있겠습니다. 감사합니다, 페이스북에 공유하겠습니다.

  10. Anonymous says:

    made this last night for my family, my youngest ate every tiny bit, and he is not a vegetable fan but he just kept eating… thank you soo much, I have introduced my children to Korean food via your recipes and now we honestly don’t eat much else…..
    gam sa hap ni da!

  11. Anonymous says:

    This dish is utterly delicious !!! I’ve never had Korean dish before but this dish is really amazing :P :P

  12. I know this is an old post but…I just tried this recipe yesterday and it was amazing. I foresee myself making it very often. Thank you for sharing it!

    • My pleasure, Sarah! I’m very happy to hear it turned out well for you. I’m sure other readers will be inspired to make this dish by your comment. Thanks for letting me know!

  13. I must try this and will come back to let you know how it went

  14. Nicole kim says:

    Just made this a minute ago and this recipe is a excellent! Thank you so much for posting this.

  15. monica ^^ says:

    I have made this dish numerous times because I loved it that much~ Though I had a few difficult moments in balancing the soy sauce and sugar ( I used Shoyu. It turns out to overpower the sugar and sesame oil) today I got the perfect combination of brands to use and just had to post this comment.
    감사합니다~

  16. monica ^^ says:

    I have made this dish numerous times because I loved it that much~ Though I had a few difficult moments in balancing the soy sauce and sugar ( I used Shoyu. It turns out to overpower the sugar and sesame oil) today I got it down perfect!
    감사합니다~

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