The Korean dish, Japchae, originally was made of only vegetables stir-fried together, but sometime in the early 20th century, noodles snuck into the recipe, and that’s the way we eat the dish today.
By Jacqui Gable
Japchae is usually served room temperature or chilled as part of the meal’s banchan, or set of side dishes. Originally, it was made of only vegetables stirfried together, but sometime in the early 20th century, noodles snuck into the recipe, and that’s the way we eat the dish today. Some japchae recipes call for beef, chicken, or seafood. Add whatever vegetables are in season where you are, and slice them into strips so they mix easily with the noodles. Here’s a simple and common vegetarian version cooked both at home and in restaurants.
Recipe from Korean Cooking Lab.
- 1 handful (or bunch) dried dangmyeon (dried glass noodles)
- 1 large bunch fresh spinach, washed well
- 4-5 fresh pyogo (shiitake mushrooms)
- ½ white onion
- 1 small carrot, peeled
- 1 clove garlic
- grapeseed oil (or other cooking oil)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- sesame seeds
- Bring a large pot of water to boiling.
- Meanwhile, slice onion into strips and julienne the carrot. Set aside together. Remove stems from each mushroom and slice the caps. Mince the garlic. Set mushrooms and garlic aside together.
- Once water starts boiling, add the spinach. Let cook for a minute, then transfer spinach with tongs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Save the hot water for the noodles. Bring the hot water back up to boil, then turn off the heat and add the dried noodles. Cover and let them sit, off the heat, for 8 minutes or until noodles are soft to bite. Then drain, add sesame oil, and mix. Snip noodles in half if they are extra long.
- Heat oil in a saute pan, and add onions and carrots. Saute for a minute.
- Add garlic and mushrooms to the pan and saute for two minutes.
- Mix soy sauce with sugar, then add to the vegetables. Add the noodles, too.
- Mix well and let cook until noodles and vegetables are incorporated, and soy sauce has soaked through the noodles.
- Taste, and add more soy sauce or sugar if needed.
- Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Jacqui Gabel hails from Minnesota and lives in Seoul. Her motivation to travel stems from a yearning to learn through food, and she is particularly interested in what people eat for breakfast. Jacqui has waitressed, taught kindergarten, designed pantyhose, and sold wine and costume jewelry. Once a week, she visits her friend Hye Rae's Seoul kitchen, and they show each other a thing or two of what they know. If the recipe is Korean, she learned it from Hye Rae. Jacqui loves to cook and feed, and she writes about travel, food, and identity on her blog.