Vegetables with glass noodles (Japchae)
Updated: Apr 25, 2021
Korean noodle dishes, and their cuisine have evolved over time with their history. This dish was originally created in the 17th century for the king. At this time Korea was a Buddhist nation, the diet only including vegetables, hence the predominance of vegetables in this dish, in banchan and in the cuisine. A very interesting historical snippet of this dish and cuisine here.
There is a world of Asian noodles that are not rice or wheat based. These are the wonderful bean thread noodles, sweet potato starch noodles, soba, shiratake and more. I wanted to cook with one of these for a change.
Here I used a Korean potato vermicelli (Dangmyeon), also generically referred to as glass or cellophane noodles. These noodles have a gentle bite and earthy flavor, and are commonly used in Korean cuisine from soups to banchan to stir fries.
I adapted this recipe to make it vegetarian. Traditionally it is made with beef, but since I was pairing it with Kalbi, I wanted to have something vegetarian. This noodle dish has a ton of components but they all come together beautifully. The noodles and the vegetables pop with flavor from the soy sauce and garlic. Do not be intimidated by the long list of ingredients and method, it is quite a simple recipe in essence. Also serve with this very simple Almost-instant cucumber kimchi.
I used a few vegetables, but you can always cook the original recipe with meat, or substitute other vegetables including, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, eggplant, mushrooms, tofu and more.
This is a book I go to often for Korean cuisine. Filled with amazing stews, grilled meats and soups, there is a world of unique, and still being discovered by me, Korean cuisine in these pages.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
For the sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon + more for garnish sesame seeds, roasted lightly on a warm pan
1 lb baby spinach
2 large carrots, diced into thin half circles, or finely diced
1 can baby corn, cut into 1 inch pieces, and soaked in a pot of water for 30 minutes
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 eggs (omit for vegan version)
Salt to taste
4-5 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 red chilli, slivered or cut into rounds
10-12 oz Korean style potato noodles or any glass noodles of choice
For the meat variation:
5 oz. thinly sliced beef, lamb, or chicken
Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients. Allow to sauce to sit for 30 minutes. If using the meat, marinate the meat in 2 tablespoons of the sauce.
Cook the vegetables individually in a tablespoon of oil and small pinch of salt. Note the soy marinade has a lot of salt so be careful with the salt. I generally start with the mildest tasting vegetable and progress to the more flavored vegetables. They can all be cooked in the same pan sequentially without washing it in between. You can choose how much you would like to cook each of the vegetables, i like to leave the carrots crunchy but cook the others more. Remove each vegetables as they are done and set aside in separate piles.
Beat the eggs with a touch of pepper and salt and make a flat omelette. Do not brown the eggs, it need to be a bright yellow in color. Remove, cool, and cut into thin strips.
If you are using the meat, stir fry the meat and collected juices for 3-5 minutes till cooked through. Set aside.
Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Keep them "al dante". Drain and put them in a pan with the sauce and cook on medium heat till the noodles absorb all the sauce, about 3-4 minutes.
There are a few ways you can present this dish, but here is how I choose to serve it. I put the heated noodles into a bowl and add all the cooked vegetables in piles around the sides. I drizzle the sesame oil over the dish and sprinkle the sesame seeds and sliced red chilies on top. I bring this beautiful dish to the table and mix everything at the table for the wow factor.