[Updated 2 July 2021]
Japchae is a super popular dish in South Korea, often eaten during special holidays but also enjoyed all-year-round. Made with noodles that are stir-fried in a sauce, along with other ingredients like veggies and beef and mushrooms, it's an easy and delicious meal, balancing salty and sweet. If you've ever wanted to try and make japchae at home, now's your chance! We have a pretty simple halal Korean japchae recipe that you can whip up at home to enjoy.
The star of japchae is the sweet potato vermicelli noodles (called dangmyeon). Made with just 100% sweet potato starch and water, it's pretty easy to find nowadays, even in regular supermarkets. You can also get dangmyeon noodles online quite easily - lookout for the Mr. Korea brand that's halal-certified (available on Shopee Singapore
, Shopee Malaysia
). It's also worth noting that for this dish, each component is cooked separately before being mixed together. It may seem like added work (rather than just stir-frying everything in one go), but it's simple to do and this helps ensure that nothing is overcooked, with the veggies retaining a nice bit of crunch and the colours of the different components standing out beautifully ?
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 150g Korean potato starch noodles (dangmyeon)
- 1 small carrot, peeled and julienned (cut into matchsticks)
- ½ an onion, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions/spring onions, cut into small pieces
- 100g beef, cut into strips
- 75g fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned, and thinly sliced.
- 100g fresh spinach, washed and prepared (or you can also use baby spinach leaves)
- vegetable oil for stir-frying
- Salt and pepper
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar (or brown sugar)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
- In a small bowl, place the beef strips, and put one tablespoon of the sauce. Mix to combine and let it sit.
- In another small bowl, place the sliced shiitake mushrooms, and add another tablespoon of the sauce. Mix to combine and let it sit.
- Bring some water to a boil in a pot. Put the prepared spinach in the boiling water and blanch it for 10 - 15 seconds (just until wilted). If you're using baby spinach leaves it should only take about 5 - 10 seconds. Remove the spinach and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and let it sit in a colander to drain further for a couple of minutes. Squeeze the spinach gently to remove excess water. Place the spinach in a bowl and lightly season it with some salt, pepper, and a dash of sesame oil, and mix gently to coat.
- Bring water to a boil in a pot (you can use the same water you used from blanching the spinach - just make sure it's enough to accommodate all the noodles). Add your sweet potato noodles and boil it according to the package instructions. Once ready, remove and run the noodles under cold water. Drain thoroughly.
- Transfer the noodles to a bowl. Using kitchen scissors, cut into the noodles a few time, so you end up with shorter, more manageable strands. Add 2 tablespoons of the sauce, and mix everything together well.
- Heat some oil (about half a tablespoon) over medium-high heat in a large skillet or frying pan. Add the sliced onions and stir fry until translucent. Add the scallions, some salt and pepper for seasoning, and stir for a bit more. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add more oil if necessary, and stit-fry the carrot with a pinch of salt until it softens. Remove and transfer to the same large mixing bowl.
- Add more oil if necessary. Add the marinated mushrooms (including any leftover sauce) and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until soft. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
- Add more oil if necessary. Add the marinated beef strips (including any leftover sauce and stir-fry for a few minutes until it's cooked through. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
- Lower the heat slightly. Add the noodles to the pan and stir-fry for 3 - 4 minutes until translucent. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
- Add the blanched spinach and any remaining sauce into the bowl and mix by hand (or use tongs first if the noodles are still too hot). When ready
- You can also use capsicum/bell pepper in the recipe for added colour - just prepare and cook it similar to the carrot.
- When serving, feel free to garnish with roasted sesame seeds, sliced scallions, or fried egg strips.
Japchae is a wonderful noodle stir-fry that's quite iconic within the Korean culinary landscape. Once you try it you'll definitely want to make it part of your stir-fry rotation! Make these noodles and enjoy this simple but really yummy meal ?