Japchae is a classic Korean dish that can be served as a side, main dish, or over rice. Stir-fried glass noodles with sliced beef, julienned carrots, vegetables and mushrooms, tossed in a sweet and savory soy sauce dressing.
Japchae (pronounced “chaap-chay”) is a well-known and well-loved Korean noodle dish typically served on special occasions and at parties.
It can be served as a main dish, side dish, or even over a bowl of rice. It can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature. Talk about versatile. The perfect potluck dish!
What is Japchae?
Japchae is made with sweet potato starch noodles. These noodles are sometimes called glass or cellophane noodles because they look almost transparent when cooked.
Japchae typically contains sliced beef, julienned carrots and shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced onion, along with other vegetables. The noodles are then tossed in a sweet and savory sauce made with soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil, then topped with sesame seeds.
Looking for a vegetarian version of Japchae? Simply omit the sliced beef.
How to Make Japchae
There are a couple of ingredients we’ll need to marinate for an hour before we start cooking so that will be our first step.
Beef: 8oz of beef (1 ribeye, New York or sirloin steak), cut into very thin strips. Pour 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of Sesame Oil, and 1 clove garlic (minced) over the beef and mix well. Allow the beef to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
Mushrooms: 2 1/2 cups of dried whole shiitake mushrooms (between 10 – 15 smaller sized mushrooms)
Fill a small saucepan with the mushrooms along with 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
Place the saucepan over medium-high heat just until boiling, cover the saucepan, then turn off the heat. This will allow the mushrooms to marinate and reconstitute at the same time. This will take about 1 hour.
Drain the mushrooms, cut the stems off, then slice them into thin strips.
While waiting for the beef and the mushrooms to marinate, we can prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook the noodles. The type of noodle you need for Japchae is Sweet Potato Starch Noodles.
Boil the noodles for about 7 minutes or until al-dente. When the noodles are cooked, pour them into a colander and immediately rinse the noodles thoroughly with cold tap water. This will stop the noodles from cooking and keep them “crunchy” instead of mushy.
When all of the water has drained, pour 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over the noodles and gently toss the noodles in the oil to prevent them from sticking.
This would also be a good time to julienne 1 carrot, thinly slice 1 onion and mince 1 clove of garlic.
Prepare your Japchae sauce mixture: mix 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil.
Now it’s time to put it all together. Heat up two tablespoons of cooking oil over medium-high heat and stir-fry the beef and mushrooms. This should take about 2 minutes. Remove the cooked beef and mushrooms from the wok and set aside.
Add 1 julienned carrot and 1 thinly sliced onion to the wok. Just before the onions turn translucent, remove the carrots and onions from the wok and set aside.
Add 1 clove of garlic (minced) into the wok along with 3 cups of spinach. Stir-fry till the spinach has wilted slightly, then turn off the heat.
Add the noodles, then stir in the Japchae sauce. Mix well.
Return the beef, mushrooms, carrots and onions to the wok, then add 1 tablespoon of toasted white sesame seeds. Stir to combine all the ingredients.
Transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with chopped scallions. I also like to add sliced fresh red chili for some color and a touch of heat.
You can store leftover Japchae in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or you can also freeze it in freezer bags. Japchae can be served cold (not frozen!), or you can also reheat it in the microwave for about a minute. This dish is best enjoyed at room temperature.
Even though beef is traditionally used in Japchae, you can absolutely use chicken as a substitute if you wish. Follow the same steps in the recipe to marinate the chicken.
Yes, it is the perfect party or potluck food! You can make Japchae a day in advance for the best results. Keep it in the fridge overnight, then serve at room temperature.
Japchae (Korean Stir-Fried Glass Noodles)
- 1 8 oz steak – ribeye new york or sirloin, cut into thin slices
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 1/2 cups dried shitake mushrooms
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Veggies, other ingredients
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 carrot julienned
- 1 small onion thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 cups uncooked spinach
- 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
- 2 stalks scallions for garnish chopped
- 1 fresh red chili for garnish sliced
- Beef marinade: Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and minced garlic. Pour over beef and mix well to coat all slices of the beef. Allow to marinade in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Mushroom marinade: Fill a saucepan with the dried shitake mushrooms, water, soy sauce and sugar. Heat over medium-high till it starts to boil. Turn off the heat, cover the saucepan and let it sit for 1 hour. When the mushrooms are done marinating, discard the marinade liquid. Cut off the stems and slice the mushrooms into thin strips.
- Noodles: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Boil the noodles for 7 minutes or until al-dente. Pour into a colander then thoroughly rinse the noodles under cold tap water. When all of the water has drained, pour sesame oil over the noodles then toss till all of the noodles are coated.
- Japchae sauce: Combine soy sauce, brown sugar and sesame oil.
- Heat up 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Stir-fry beef and mushrooms until cooked. Set aside.
- Stir-fry carrots and onions until just before the onion turns translucent. Set aside.
- Stir-fry minced garlic and spinach until spinach is wilted.
- Turn off the heat.
- Add the noodles and stir in the Japchae sauce. Stir well to combine.
- Return the beef, mushrooms, carrots and onions to the wok, then add the sesame seeds. Stir to combine all the ingredients.
- Transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Garnish with chopped scallions and sliced red chili.