Japchae is a Korean dish made with stir fried sweet potato starch noodles and meat and veggies in a light sauce. Sweet potato starch noodles have a wonderful chewy texture that is much different than flour based noodles. I use them in this dish, but also in Asian stews as well because I love the texture. Sweet potato starch noodles also are lower in calories than traditional pasta and are gluten free as well.
This dish can have quite a few variations as far as the meat and vegetables go. It is most commonly made with beef, but my mother-in-law often uses shrimp in hers, which I love, so that is how I made it this time. Spinach, mushrooms, julienned carrot, and onion or green onion are typical vegetables.
The sauce is really simple, just soy sauce, sesame oil, a little sugar, and sesame seeds. This dish is a fantastic one to bring to a pot luck or a party because it can sit out be served room temperature and taste great, and it serves a lot of people.
Japchae (Korean Sweet Potato Noodles with Meat and Veggies)
- 8 oz steak or shrimp
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 4 oz fresh or frozen spinach
- 4 oz sweet potato noodles
- 3 scallions cut into 4 inch pieces
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 6 white mushrooms sliced
- 1 carrot julienned
- salt and pepper to taste
- vegetable oil for stir frying
Make the egg garnish:
- Beat egg with a pinch of salt. Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil to a heated nonstick pan. Swirl the oil around so it covers the pan, and then wipe off the excess heated oil with a kitchen towel so only a thin layer remains on the pan. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pan. Tilt it around so the mixture spreads thinly. Let it cook for about 30 seconds. Flip it over and let it sit on the pan until cooked through. Cool and slice into ribbons.
For the noodles:
- Put the noodles into a pot of boiling water. Stir them with a wooden spoon so they don’t stick together. Cook for another 7-8 minutes until the noodles are soft and chewy. Or follow the directions on your package if different. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water. Cut them a few times with kitchen scissors. Put the noodles into the large bowl and add 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon sugar.
For the meat and vegetables:
- If using fresh spinach, wash well and blanche for 30 seconds. If using frozen, cook according to instructions. Drain spinach well and season with 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp soy sauce and a pinch of salt. Add to noodles.
- Heat up a skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil with the onion, the green onion, carrots, and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes until the onion looks a little translucent. Transfer to the noodle bowl.
- Heat up the skillet again and add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil. Add the white mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry for 2 minutes until softened and a little juicy. Transfer to the noodle bowl.
- Heat up another 2 teaspoons of oil until very hot. If using beef, season with salt and pepper and add to hot skillet just long enough to sear on both sides. If using shrimp, rinse and drain them and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and add to hot skillet until they are cooked through and nicely browned in places. Transfer to the bowl.
- Add the minced garlic, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil to the mixing bowl full of ingredients. Mix all together.
- Add the egg garnish and sesame seeds. Mix it and transfer it to a large plate and serve.