This japchae recipe features sweet potato glass noodles that are chewy and soft, as well as tender and juicy ribeye meats. It’s also loaded with earthy vegetables, bell peppers, sweet carrots, and mushrooms.
What is japchae?
Japchae, a Korean type of noodle recipe, is made with special glass noodles. It is a popular side dish (or banchan) that can be enjoyed at both Korean restaurants and at your home. My favourite places to eat japchae is MoRanGak & Baekjeong.
It’s a simple dish that can be translated as “japchae” to mean “mixed vegetable” (in Korean). This dish is usually made with mushrooms, spinach, carrots, and sesame oils.
Ingredients in japchae
Clear noodles are my favorite part of japchae! They are made from sweet potato and turn translucent once they’re cooked. They are also known as “dangmyeon” in Korean. These noodles are made of sweet potato starch and are covered with cellophane.
Glass noodles can also be made with other ingredients, such as purple sweet potatoes or mung beans. Korean sweet potato noodles are described as chewy and bouncy. They aren’t flavored and can be seasoned with any seasoning that you like.
Look for the names of the noodles in the store to identify the right type.
- sweet potato noodles
- yam noodles
- glass noodles
- cellophane noodles
- clear noodles
There are many vegetables that you can substitute or add to japchae. Similar to yaki Udon, you can add any vegetables you like, but the main ingredients are usually carrots, onions and dried mushrooms (shiitake, wood ear), bell peppers. You can add cucumbers, chili peppers or other ingredients.
Meat / protein
Japchae can also be made with protein. My favorite is ribeye, which is tender, fatty and delicious. The best ribeye cap is my personal favorite. Costco doesn’t always have prime ribeye caps, so I was hesitant to buy it.
The price is around $20/lb, so it’s not inexpensive. However, you can always make great japchae with cheaper cuts. They can be used with skirt steak or other lean cuts, as they are sliced thinly.
You can make it vegan by skipping the protein and using only vegetables. It’s equally delicious.
Jidan is an optional topping made from egg yolks that have been lightly beaten and cooked in a pan. Then, the eggs are cut into thin strips. Similar to the egg strips that we add to Vietnamese Bò Bía and bun thang, this is also an option topping.
Japchae sauce can be described as a simple, easy seasoning made with soy sauce, sesame oils, black pepper and dark brown sugar. The soy sauce and sesame oils give it a balanced saltiness, while the sugar adds sweetness.
How to make japchae
Although japchae can be made quickly, noodle dishes that contain many ingredients and require different cooking times or processes can be confusing if you don’t have a clear timeline. You may need to prepare the ingredients separately before you mix them all together. This dish is similar in pancit canton and pancit Palabok.
This is how I make japchae efficient without overcooking or subcooking ingredients, while also saving time.
- Combine all seasoning sauce ingredients.
- Marinate the meat.
- Season the spinach and blanch it.
- Season the noodles and cook them.
- Make jidan (or an egg topping) and cook it.
- Sauté the onions and green onion.
- Sauté the mushrooms.
- Sauté the bell peppers and carrots.
- Sauté the meat & garlic.
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the seasoning and mix.
How to store and serve Korean glass noodles
Japchae can be served hot from the pan or chilled from the refrigerator. It’s best semi-chilled from a fridge, when I have my steamy Korean barbecue at home or at a restaurant. It gives me a nice balance. This is a great side dish to eat with Korean potato salad and kalbi. You can save any leftover noodles in an airtight container, and keep them in the refrigerator.
The noodles can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can heat japchae by placing it in a microwave-safe bowl. To prevent it from drying out, you can also place a damp towel on top. To heat it up, I prefer to cook for 30-second intervals.
Korean Japchae Recipe (Glass Noodles with Ribeye)
- Pot for boiling water
- saute pan
- Large mixing bowl
- 52 g (3 tbsp) soy sauce
- 9 g (2 tsp) sesame oil
- 12 g (1 tbsp) dark brown sugar
- 4 g (¼ tsp) black pepper
- 30 g (2 tbsp) soy sauce
- 290 g (10 oz) sirloin or ribeye sliced thinly
- 15 g (1 tbsp) garlic minced
- vegetable oil as needed
- 60 g (2 c) spinach
- water for boiling & rinsing
- 2.8 g (½ tsp) soy sauce
- 1.2 g (¼ tsp) sesame oil
- 225 g (8 oz) sweet potato glass noodles
- 9 g (2 tsp) sesame oil
OTHER VEGETABLES & ASSEMBLY
- 1 large egg
- 28 g (3 stalks) green onions sliced into 2-inch pieces
- 130 g (½ medium) yellow onion julienned
- 50 g (1 medium) carrot julienned
- 60 g (1 c) shiitake mushroom sliced thinly
- 72 g (¼ medium) red bell pepper julienned
- vegetable oil as needed
- salt as preferred
SAUCE & MEAT
- Mix all seasoning ingredients together until well combined. Set aside.
- Combine the beef with the soy sauce in a small bowl. Mix the beef and soy sauce together until the meat is coated.
- Bring a large saucepan of the water to a boil over medium heat. Cook the spinach for approximately 1 minute, or until it wilts.
- Place the spinach in a strainer and drain the water. The boiling water should not be thrown away as you will need it to boil the noodles. Let the spinach cool down in a bowl of running water. Then turn off the water supply and gently squeeze the spinach with your hands.
- Mix the spinach in a bowl. Add the sesame oil and soy sauce to the bowl. Set aside.
- Add the sweet potato glass noodles to the boiling water. Follow the package instructions. I boiled the noodles for 10 minutes, then removed them from the package.
- Strain noodles & place them in a large bowl.
- Season the noodles with the sesame oil. To prevent them sticking, mix until the noodles are well coated.
- You can cut the noodles into manageable pieces with a pair scissors. They can be cut into 6 inch strips. You can also cut them however long you like. Because they are long, this will make it easier to handle the noodles and make them easier to eat.
ASSEMBLY & OTHER VEGETABLES
- Onions and green onions: Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add the yellow onion. Cook the onions for 3 minutes, or until they begin to soften but not translucent. Cook the green onions for 2 more minutes, or until they begin to wilt. Add the green onions and onions to the bowl along with the noodles.
- Add the red bell peppers and carrots to the same pan. Cook the bell peppers and carrots for 2 minutes, or until softened to your preference. Transfer to the noodle dish.
- Optional egg garnish (jidan). Crack the egg, and separate the yolk from the white. Lightly beat the yolk of the egg. Add a little vegetable oil to a pan and heat the egg yolk. Cook the omelette until it is opaque. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut the omelette into thin strips by rolling it up. Set aside.
- Add the mushrooms to the same pan. Cook the mushrooms for 3 minutes, or until they are softened and golden brown. Transfer to the bowl with the noodles.
- Garlic and meat: Heat oil in the same pan. Add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds, or until it is fragrant. Cook the marinated meat for 2 minutes, or until it is brown and opaque. Transfer meat to a bowl with the noodles.
- Mix the seasoning again before adding to the noodle bowl. Combine all ingredients with the noodles and mix until well coated. You can taste the japchae before you add salt or more seasoning.
- It can be chilled in the refrigerator before you serve it or eaten immediately.