Updated on April 29, 2021 by Julia
What is japchae?
Japchae (잡채) translates to mixed vegetables in Korean, and I recently learned that the dish originally contained no noodles. Surprisingly, the reason why so many people love this dish is because of how chewy the sweet potato noodles are compared to wheat noodles. The noodles soak up the marinade and make for a great base for the rest of the stir-fried vegetables. I recommend using a variety of vegetables to add colors to this dish!
Today, japchae dishes will typically have some type of meat, such as beef. In this vegetarian japchae, we will be subbing with shittake mushrooms marinated in a delightful soy sauce/sesame oil based sauce.
This dish can also be made vegan friendly by using Just Egg for the optional egg topping at the end.
What are Korean glass noodles?
The noodles used in japchae differ from wheat noodles as they are typically made from sweet potatoes or mung bean. The sweet potato noodles are called glass noodles because they become translucent when cooked. They are typically purchased dry, but become extremely chewy and springy after they are boiled. The noodles are great for both hot or cold dishes. Because there is no wheat flour in these noodles, these are also great for those who are gluten-free. To make this dish gluten-free, simply substitute tamari for the soy sauce.
You can find these noodles in any Asian grocery store or online.
Ingredients for vegetarian japchae
You’re free to use whatever vegetables you find hearty and delicious, but I’ll be including vegetables that are typically found in japchae. Because the marinade is soy-sauced based, the noodles will be a light brown color, so using a variety of colors help to brighten up the dish
- Korean sweet potato noodles
- Shittake mushrooms
- Red bell pepper
- Yellow onion
- Soy sauce and sesame as the base of our sauces
How to make japchae
This dish will take quite a bit longer to prep and cook as there are a lot of vegetables to clean and slice. Then each vegetable is individually stir-fried to preserve their color.
However, you’ll be able to make this into a large dish that’s enough to feed 2 as a main course!
- Prep the vegetables. Clean, de-stem, and thinly slice your mushrooms, julienne zucchini and carrots (peel these first!), and thinly slice yellow onion and red bell pepper.
- Wash spinach and boil a pot of water. Blanch your spinach (meaning it sits in the boiling water for about 30 seconds). Drain and run under cold water so it stops cooking. Season with sesame oil and salt.
- Create marinade for the mushrooms and noodles. In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, salt, and ground black pepper to taste.
- Use 1/3 of the marinade on the mushrooms. Let sit.
- Boil another pot of water and add the noodles. Let it boil for around 7 minutes until soft and bouncy. Drain and rinse under cold water. Use the remaining 2/3 of the japchae marinade on the noodles. Let it sit while you stir-fry the vegetables.
- Stir-fry the vegetables separately to maintain the bright colors. You’ll have to add a bit of oil to the pan for each vegetable to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Sauté sliced yellow onions until soft. Remove from pan.
- Sauté carrots until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan.
- Sauté red bell pepper until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan.
- Sauté zucchini until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan.
- Stir-fry the marinated mushrooms until nicely caramelized. About 2-3 minutes, remove from pan.
- Stir-fry the marinated noodles from about 30 seconds. Place in a large bowl.
- For the optional egg, beat egg with chopsticks or a fork and season with sesame oil and salt. Pour into a hot skillet and cook each side for 1-2 minutes or until well-done. Remove from pan and slice vertically.
- Place vegetables and mushrooms onto the noodles and mix well with chopsticks. Add in another tsp of sesame oil and top with white sesame seeds.
Looking for more stir-fry recipes?
Japchae (Korean Glass Noodle Vegetarian Stir-Fry)
- 150 g Korean sweet potato noodles
- 4 shiitake mushrooms (de-stemmed and sliced)
- ½ carrot (julienned)
- ½ zucchini (julienned)
- ½ red bell pepper (sliced)
- ½ yellow onion (sliced)
- 100 g spinach
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil (split between cooking)
- 2 eggs vegans sub with Just Egg
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- Clean thoroughly, de-stem, and thinly slice mushrooms.
- Peel and julienne carrots, do the same with your zucchini
- De-seed and thinly slice red bell peppers
- Peel and slice yellow onion
- Boil a pot of water and blanch spinach for a couple seconds. Drain and run under cold water immediately to stop cooking. Season with sesame oil and salt. Set aside.
- Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, minced garlic, and sugar in a bowl. Use ⅓ of the marinade on your mushrooms.
- Boil a large pot of water and add your noodles. Cook for about 7-8 minutes. Remove, rinse under cold water, and set aside. Use the remaining ⅔ of marinade on the cooked noodles.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a hot skillet and sauté slice yellow onions until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet. Stir-fry carrots for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle on some salt. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp of oil in the same skillet and cook the red bell peppers until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Heat another tbsp of oil in same skillet and sauté the zucchini until soft, about another minute. Sprinkle on salt. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Stir-fry marinated mushrooms last for 2-3 minutes until nicely caramelized. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Add more oil if necessary, stir-fry the marinated noodles for a couple seconds and remove from heat and move to a large bowl.
- Beat eggs in a bowl with a fork or chopsticks and add salt and sesame oil.
- Heat oil in a skillet, pour the egg mixture in and keep on low-medium heat. Cook each side for 2 minutes or until well-done. Remove from heat and cut into thin vertical slices.
- Arrange stir-fried vegetables and mushrooms onto the noodles. Use chopsticks and mix everything throughly. Add a touch more sesame oil and white sesame seeds to top off.