Korean japchae is sweet potato starch noodles, better known as Dangmyeon that are stir fried and mixed with vegetables and sometimes beef. Japchae is a compound word that means to mix (korean = jap) vegetables (korean = yachae). In the past this dish was made only with vegetables. Just after 1920’s noodles became the center of this dish. Also known as korean glass noodles japchae, it is consumed in Korean New Year and other traditional celebrations. Its mild sweet flavor combined with all the different textures of vegetables and the chewy noodles make it a popular dish. It is usually served as a first course or side dish in korean restaurants, but it can be main dish alone or served over a bed of rice. In that case, it is called japchae-bap.
Ingredients for japchae
The most common ingredients for japchae are sweet potatoes noodles, also known as crystal noodles; dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms, carrots, spinach, onions, red pepper and for the non-vegetarian version beef. For seasoning and garnish the ingredients are sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, sesame seed and sometimes an egg yolk.
For a vegetarian recipe substitute the meat for more shitake or any other kind of mushrooms. Dried mushrooms have more flavour than fresh ones.
How to cook Korean Japchae
The key to a delicious traditional flavoured japchae is to cook all ingredients, separately and combine them at the end. This technique allows to add various layers of flavour the dish. Moreover, as every ingredient has its own cooking time, this method allows to preserve the texture and color of each one, avoiding overcooking.
How to cook simple Japchae
If all the steps to cook Korean glass noodles japchae are discouraging you from making it, there is a way you can prepare it in one skillet almost at the same time. The key factor is to control the amount of liquid when cooking, so things do not overcook. You should soak noodles and shitake mushrooms at least two hours. Then, add ingredients to a pan or skillet with cooking oil starting by those that take more time to cook, like meat and mushrooms, and stir fry for half a minute, then add the vegetables until they are half cooked, and finally add the noodles and the sauce. The detailed preparation steps you can find below.
Is japchae paleo?
If you follow a paleo diet you may wonder if this delicious and popular dish matches the paleo requirements, and the answer is yes. Sweet potato starch, from which noodles are made, is paleo and whole 30 approved. If you use meat, make sure you buy grass-fed beef. You can replace sesame oil for coconut oil and soy sauce for coconut aminos.
Japchae sweet potato noodles nutrition facts
This Korean dish is a complete meal. It has carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins. A full serving of around 530 gr. (2.5 cups) contains 604 calories, but only 200 calories from fat. To reduce japchae calories you can use less noodles and more vegetables. It has 23gr of fat, but no saturated fat. It has 471 mgr. of sodium, which you can also reduce, as well as getting rid of gluten, by choosing the right soy sauce. Japchae is also rich in potassium, fiber, and vitamin A and C.