Vegetarian Japchae 잡채 (Stir Fried Glass Noodles w Vegetables)

Japchae, literally meaning “mixture of vegetables” is another traditional Korean dish that everyone loves for its sweetness and unique texture coming from the glass noodles. You’ll often see this dish served on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and sometimes church pot lucks on special Sundays. There was no celebration on his particular day, but I did some leftover sweet potato starch noodles (aka glass noodles or Korean vermicelli noodles) that I needed to use up, so I decided to make something light and healthy for lunch. Instead of including our normal dose of meat (bulgogi), I went straight vegetarian for my brother-in-law and included only carrots, onions, mushrooms, and green onions. There are different variations, but the traditional method usually calls for spinach, bulgogi or thin strips of beef, and jidan (egg strips). After 25 minutes of slicing n dicing vegetables, soaking and boiling the noodles, then mixing them by hand (the Korean way), it was finally greeted with applause from my toughest food critics: my mom and sister (brother-in-law liked it, but he likes everything I cook).  Although it personally had the right flavors and textures, the only thing missing was some meat! Oh well, there’s always next time…. 🙂

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Sweet potato noodles can be bought at most Asian markets and always at your local Korean grocery
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Here are the vegetables that will be mixed with the glass noodles. Slice them long n thin like the noodles, making it easier to eat later. Also, you can substitute ingredients to your liking. Spinach and bell peppers are regular add-ons.
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Soak the glass noodles and cut them a few times before boiling them. After boiling and draining under water, the noodles tend to clump together so add some sesame oil to keep them separated.
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Any of the “hard” vegetables (i.e. carrots, onion, etc) will need to be sauteed for a few minutes to make sure that have the same consistency of the noodles.
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Once you have everything cooked, bring them together and mix thoroughly by hand when cool enough to handle.
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Make sure to add green onions for color and taste. Spinach is a good option as well.
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When you’re done, it should look something like this, albeit in much bigger portions. 🙂

Servings: 4 people

Noodle soak time: 25 minutes

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. dangmyeon, potato starch or glass noodles
  • 1/2 onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 carrot, julienned
  • 3 scallions, chopped (or spinach if available)
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3, 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3, 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • sesame seeds  (garnish)
  • eggs (optional; garnish)
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil

Directions:

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Soak at least 20 minutes in water, cook in boiling water for approx. 8 minutes or until soft. After rinsing and draining under water, add sesame oil to prevent noodles from sticking. Cut a few times with scissors to shorten the noodles, set aside.
  2. In a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add a generous amount of olive canola oil and saute julienned carrots, onion, and mushrooms with minced garlic for a few minutes. The vegetables should still retain crispness when finished, set aside.
  3. Combine vegetables and noodles in a large mixing bowl. Then add sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce tossing well until thoroughly mixed. Taste and adjust according to preference.
  4. Garnish with sesame seeds and egg strips.

*You can adjust the sweetness, saltiness, and nuttiness of this dish by adding or limiting brown sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil, respectively. 

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6 Comments

  1. March 14, 2014

    This looks delicious and I’d love to try it! Glass noodles are a favorite of mine 🙂

  2. March 14, 2014

    Thank you for the kind words. Glass noodles are great. I usually put them in all my stews to add some different textures. If I may ask, what do you use them for?

  3. Tabitha
    March 31, 2014

    adore glass noodles! i’m from hawaii and we use them to make Chicken Long Rice. As i’ve gotten older i have found several dishes that just work better with these little darlings. i have made Japchae before (with beef) but never a vegetarian version. my son (12) recently decided he wants to be one so i’m pretty happy i came upon this recipe! i know i could have just left out the meat but i have found that when you do that, something is just not right. all the seasonings are based off of having the meat. anywho. thank you for this lovely recipe! have it on the menu for tomorrow 😀 will let you know how it goes

  4. April 1, 2014

    glad you enjoyed the dish. let me know how it turns out meat or no meat. ^^

  5. Tabitha
    April 2, 2014

    it was great! we added more garlic, an extra bell pepper, spinach, and more green onion. i put pepper on mine haha i like pepper. my son put sriracha on the side of his plate. thank you for this recipe. my kids (from ages 1 to 12) loved it and asked that i make it again. 😀

  6. April 2, 2014

    glad that it turned out well! your son has some good taste, i love sriracha sauce on everything! ^^

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