This Japchae recipe recipe is easy to make in about 30 minutes, it can be customized with whatever veggies and protein you prefer, and it’s so flavorful and delicious!
Meet the Korean stir-fry noodles that my husband makes for us all the time — japchae! ♡
I first introduced Barclay to japchae a few years ago, and he immediately fell head over heels for the chewy sweet potato noodles traditionally used to make this dish (made from sweet potato starch, by the way, not fresh sweet potatoes). He’s now obsessed with making sure that they are permanently stocked in our pantry, lest we ever have a noodle crisis when the japchae cravings hit. But best of all, he has turned into an absolute pro at making this japchae recipe, and cooks it on the reg for the two of us (and he has also proudly made it for pretty much all of our friends) dozens and dozens of times ever since.
So if you’ve ever wondered what a food blogger actually eats behind the scenes, lol, I can say for sure that these past few years have included so much japchae — which I love! We’re big fans of the dish here in our house because it’s easy to customize with whatever leftover veggies and protein we have on hand. (I originally photographed these photos with steak, but we most often eat it nowadays with shrimp or tofu.) It’s also full of great flavor and easy to whip up in just 30 minutes or so. And as I wrote in my original draft of this blog post a few years ago, I will also forever love this recipe because it reminds me of my good friends who live in Korea and first introduced me to the dish when I went there to visit years ago.
So for those of you who haven’t yet given japchae a try, I thought I would bump it back to the top of the blog today for some meal planning inspiration. If your house is like ours, you’re going to love it!!
Japchae Recipe | 1-Minute Video
To make traditional Korean japchae noodles, you will need the following ingredients:
Dangmyeon noodles: These are the traditional sweet potato noodles (also known as “glass noodles”) used to make japchae. They are made from two ingredients — sweet potato starch and water — and have an ever-so-slightly-sweet taste and a satisfying chewy texture. They are naturally gluten-free, and can be purchased at your local Asian market or online. Also, most brands of sweet potato noodles make them super long, so I recommend using some kitchen scissors to cut the noodles once they have been cooked and drained, if you would like.
Protein: The protein in this recipe is up to you! I typically make my japchae with either steak, chicken, shrimp or tofu.
Veggies: I used a mix of onion, shiitake mushrooms, red bell pepper, carrot, garlic and spinach. But feel free to use whatever stir-fry-friendly veggies and greens you love best.
Stir-fry sauce: Which is made with a simple mix of low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari), maple syrup and toasted sesame oil.
Toppings: Japchae is traditionally sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds just before serving, but I like to sprinkle some thinly sliced green onions on top too.
How To Make Japchae:
To make this Korean japchae stir-fry recipe, simply….
Cook the noodles: Cook the sweet potato starch noodles al dente in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. (Be careful not to overcook the noodles, or they will become mushy in the stir-fry.) Transfer the noodles to a strainer, and briefly rinse with cold water until they are room temperature. Strain out any extra water, drizzle the noodles with a bit of sesame oil, toss until coated, then set aside.
Prep the sauce and steak. Then toss the steak, soy sauce, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper together in a large bowl and marinate for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together until combined.
Stir-fry. Stir-fry the steak over high heat until cooked through. Then transfer the steak to a separate bowl, and stir-fry the veggies until softened. Remove pan from heat, add in the cooked steak, noodles and sauce, and toss until combined.
Taste and season. Give the noodles a taste and add extra soy sauce, if needed.
Serve warm. Garnished with lots of toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
Want to customize your japchae recipe? Feel free to…
Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce. (And as always, double-check that all of your other ingredients are certified gluten-free.)
Make it vegetarian/vegan: Use tofu or any other plant-based proteins in place of meat/seafood. Or you can just add in some extra mushrooms or other veggies too.
Make it spicy: Feel free to add in some thinly sliced Thai bird chiles, sriracha, or a pinch of crushed red chili flakes if you would like to kick up the heat in this stir-fry.
Use a different protein: This stir-fry would also be delicious with chicken, pork, shrimp, or tofu in place of the beef. Or you could skip adding a protein altogether and just toss in some extra veggies.
Use different veggies: Other veggies that would taste great could include broccoli, asparagus, snap peas, green beans, zucchini, bok choy, etc.
Use different noodles: Udon noodles, egg noodles, soba noodles or rice noodles would also work great in place of the sweet potato noodles.
More Favorite Stir-Fry Recipes:
Here are a few more of my favorite stir-fry recipes (feel free to use whatever proteins/veggies you prefer!):
This Japchae recipe recipe is easy to make in about 30 minutes, it can be customized with whatever veggies and protein you prefer (beef, chicken, shrimp, tofu, etc), and it’s so flavorful and delicious!
1 pound sirloin or flank steak, thinly-sliced against the grain into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce
fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Cook the noodles: Cook the sweet potato noodles al dente, according to package directions, in a large stockpot of boiling water. (Be careful not to overcook the noodles, or they will become mushy in the stir-fry.) Transfer the noodles to a strainer, and rinse with cold water until chilled. Strain out any extra water, drizzle the noodles with a drizzle of sesame oil, toss until the noodles are evenly coated, and set aside.
Marinate the steak. Combine the steak, soy sauce, and a generous pinch and black pepper in a large bowl, and toss to combine. Let the steak marinate for 5 minutes (or up to 30 minutes).
Prep the sauce. Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.
Stir-fry the steak. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the steak and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Transfer steak to a separate clean plate, and set aside.
Stir-fry the veggies. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the onion. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add in the mushrooms, bell pepper, carrot and garlic cloves and sauté for 4-5 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies reach your desired level of softness. (I like mine to still be a touch crispy.) Stir in the spinach, and cook for 2 more minutes, using tongs to toss the veggie mixture frequently, until the spinach has wilted.
Combine everything. Remove pan from heat. Add the cooked noodles, steak and sauce to the veggie mixture, and toss to combine.
Taste and season. Give the noodles a taste, and season with extra soy sauce and/or black pepper if needed.
Serve warm. Garnished with lots of toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
Noodle substitution: If you cannot find sweet potato noodles, feel free to just use rice noodles (or whatever your preferred noodle may be).
Gluten-free option: If making this recipe gluten-free, sub in tamari in place of soy sauce, and ensure that your sweet potato noodles are certified gluten-free.