One Pot Japchae 잡채 (Stir-Fried Glass Noodles and Vegetables)
(pronounced JAHP chay) This ubiquitous Korean favorite is a savory, salty, slightly sweet dish of stir-fried sweet potato starch glass noodles (dangmyeon) and vegetables. While the ingredients are traditional, preparation is streamlined here: components are layered in one pot rather than stir-fried individually, significantly cutting cooking time. A garnish of egg strips is traditional but optional, and meat or tofu can be included as well or even replace the mushrooms (see notes). Try to use at least one seasoned option (mushrooms, meat or tofu) as it adds a lot of flavor and texture to the finished dish.
- Egg Garnish
3 large eggs
1/8 t sea salt
1 t neutral vegetable oil suitable for stir-frying
- Noodles and Vegetables
12 oz sweet potato starch noodles, soaked in warm water at least 30 minutes
3 oz dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water at least 20 minutes
.5 oz dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water at least 20 minutes
12 oz (1 large) white onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
12 oz (approx. 2 large) carrot, cut to matchsticks
12 oz (approx 2 bell peppers) red, yellow or orange sweet pepper, julienned
9-10 oz baby spinach, rinsed (if using mature spinach, remove roots and thick stems, wash thoroughly and cut leaves to 4 inch pieces)
- Mushroom, Meat or Tofu Marinade
1 T soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 T brown sugar or honey
1 t toasted sesame oil
- Noodle Sauce
1/2 C soy sauce or coconut aminos
1/3 C brown sugar
1.5 t ground black pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
- Additional Ingredients
1/3 C water
1/3 C plus 1 T neutral vegetable oil for stir-frying
1 T sesame seeds
1 T toasted sesame oil
Additional 1-2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- Egg garnish
- Heat nonstick or seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat. If you have a flat square nonstick or seasoned cast iron griddle, use it here. Beat eggs with salt. Add oil to pan, swirl to coat. Pour beaten egg into preheated oiled pan, lift pan and rotate to form a thin egg pancake. Cook until set but not browned. Carefully flip egg pancake, remove pan from heat, and let rest in pan for a few minutes. Slide egg pancake onto cutting board, roll loosely and slice thinly into long strips, about 1/4 inch. Set aside.
- Squeeze excess soaking liquid from mushrooms, reserving liquid for another use. Rinse soaked mushrooms well under cool water. Squeeze out excess water.
- Place shiitakes stem side down, cut off stems and compost or reserve for another use (see notes). Slice caps 1/4 inch thick. Cut wood ear mushrooms to bite sized pieces if needed.
- Combine mushroom marinade ingredients in a small bowl and add prepared mushrooms. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Putting it all together
- Mix noodle sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- In 6 qt saute pan, Dutch oven or other covered pot, heat 1 T neutral oil on medium high. Stir-fry onion 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Add prepared mushrooms, sweet pepper, carrots, 1/3 C water and 1/3 C neutral oil. Stir to coat vegetables in oil and water. Lay spinach over vegetables in an even layer. Do not stir.
- Drain sweet potato starch noodles and cut to 6 inch lengths. Place drained cut noodles on spinach, pressing down so the lid will fit snugly. Pour noodle sauce over everything. Cover pot, cook 10 minutes over medium high heat.
- Reduce heat to low, remove lid, add 1 T sesame oil and 1 T sesame seeds (and cooked marinated meat or tofu if using) and toss gently to combine until noodles are glossy and nearly all liquid evaporates.
- Garnish with egg strips and additional sesame seeds.
- Meat and/or tofu options: Trim and thinly slice 8 ounces of tender beef or pork against the grain, or cube 8 ounces of extra firm tofu, and marinate in another batch of the marinade (soy sauce/aminos-sugar-sesame oil). Stir-fry the meat or tofu on medium high and remove from pot, then proceed with vegetables and noodles as directed. Add the cooked meat or tofu to the noodles and vegetables at the end with the sesame oil and sesame seeds.
- What to do with the mushroom liquid and stems: Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through a fine mesh strainer and reserve for risotto, soup, gravy. The stems can be added to stock or rinsed, minced and added to soups, pasta sauces, risotto.
- While every cook makes it differently, note that authentic japchae should always include sweet potato starch (glass) noodles and vegetables seasoned with soy sauce or aminos, brown sugar or other dark sweetener, garlic and sesame oil. It does not contain ginger, gochujang, sriracha or other hot sauces. That said, feel free to add what you like and make it your own! That’s the fun part.