Japchae is a Korean stir-fry of glass noodles (made from sweet potato starch) and vegetables. The word “japchae” literally means “mixture of vegetables.” It is often served as a side dish (“banchan”) but can be repurposed as a main dish, such as this recipe. In modern times it is commonly cooked with beef. At the time of its creation, however, it is thought that it contained just vegetables. Feel free to add a protein to this recipe if you would like! As a meat alternative, I added strips of seasoned fried bean curd. It is thought that Japchae was invented by one of King Gwangaegun’s subjects in the Choson period, in honor of a royal celebration.
Korean dishes tend to incorporate five colors: red, yellow, green, white, and black. Japchae is no exception. These colors are prominent in other forms of Korean art as well, such as painting and traditional clothing. The colors correspond to the five elements of life: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. All colors are deemed crucial for a balanced, successful life.
Try your hand at making this delicious stir-fry and taste this special collection of colorful produce and glass noodles for yourself!
Yield: 5 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
- 8 oz (½ package)Surasang sweet potato starch noodles from Bokksu Grocery
- 1 can Dynasty Chinese stir-fry vegetables from Bokksu Grocery, drained
- 2 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce from Bokksu Grocery
- 1 tablespoon Toasted white sesame seeds from Bokksu Grocery
- 3 ½ teaspoons Kadoya pure sesame oilfrom Bokksu Grocery
- 3 pieces seasoned fried bean curd from Bokksu Grocery, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- ½ large white onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup baby spinach
- ½ large carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 5 white mushrooms, stem removed, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, if desired
- In a small bowl, combine minced garlic, sugar, ½ tablespoon sesame oil, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Set aside.
- Heat a medium pan over medium-low heat and add 1 teaspoon sesame oil Wipe to remove any pooling oil..
- Add egg yolk to the pan and cook without moving for 1 minute. Then, use a spatula to flip the egg and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
- Remove the egg from the pan and let cool. Then, cut it into thin strips. This egg garnish is known as “jidan.” If desired, repeat this cooking process with your egg whites.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a fine mesh strainer, blanch the spinach leaves. Remove the spinach from the water and squeeze out extra water once it has cooled. In a small bowl, soak the spinach in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
- Using the same large pot of boiling water that you used for the spinach, cook the potato starch noodles according to package instructions. Strain and rinse the noodles to stop the cooking process. You may want to use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the noodles into a manageable length at this point.
- In a medium pan over low heat, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil and cook onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Then, add the scallions, mushrooms, bell pepper, carrot,and canned stir-fry vegetables (drained), and seasoned fried bean curd, and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
- Add garlic sauce mixture and noodles to the pan and continue to cook for two minutes.
- Add spinach and mix to combine.
- Plate the noodles and garnish with cut egg and toasted sesame seeds.
By Hadley Sui