Japchae (잡채) is a festive dish loaded with colorful seasonal vegetables. In Korea it’s served for special occasions, but in the U.S. it’s second only to Bi Bim Bap in popularity.
Most traditional Japchae preparations have you cook and season each ingredient separately, but it’s unnecessarily complicated and results in a lot of bowls to wash. Purists may claim blasphemy, but I’m a fan of the simplicity of making it as a stir-fry.
First I fry the marinated beef with garlic and then remove it from the pan to keep it from getting tough. Then I stir-fry the vegetables in stages to ensure that each is perfectly cooked. Finally the noodles go in with the sauce, allowing them to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients.
Japchae is great on its own, but I also like serving it as Japchae Bap, which just means it’s on a bed of rice.
Colorful vegetables and succulent beef make this Korean favorite a must-try for anyone who loves Asian cuisine. Made simple through stir-fry, this Japchae recipe traditionally cooks its ingredients separately, but this method is much less time-consuming. Marc Matsumoto of NoRecipes shares this recipe in a full post at the Fresh Tastes Blog.
- 6 ounces dangmyeon (clear sweet potato noodles)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 5 ounces beef, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
- 4 ounces fresh pyogo (shiitake) mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 3 ounces spinach, cut into 1” lengths.
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- Soak the dangmyeon in hot tap water until it’s fully rehydrated (20-30 minutes).
- Mix the soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine in a bowl to combine, then take 2 tablespoons of this sauce and add it to the beef, letting it marinate while the noodles rehydrate and you prepare the rest of the vegetables. Add 1/4 cup of water to the remaining sauce.
- When the noodles are rehydrated, drain them, and then use scissors to cut the noodles into 6” lengths.
- In a large frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the marinated beef and stir-fry until the meat is fully cooked, and then transfer the beef to a bowl.
- Add another tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan, and then add the onions and carrots. Stir-fry until the carrots are almost cooked, then add the pyogo and bell peppers. Continue stir-frying until the carrots are fully cooked.
- Add the dangmyeon and spinach, and then pour the sauce over everything. Stir-fry until the noodles are tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Return the beef to the pan, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and then toss everything together. Serve immediately.
Yield: 3-5 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.