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Japchae: Korean Stir-fried Cellophane (Glass Noodles), Beef and Vegetables

Recipe by Connie Veneracion
Today, japchae (jabchae, chapchae or chapchee) is a sweet-salty Korean stir fried noodle dish that uses dangmyeon, a thick and extra chewy cellophane (glass) noodle.
As japchae has evolved over the centuries, the popular ingredients that go with the noodles are spinach, shiitake and beef. You may substitute pork and other vegetables. But for an authentic japchae, stick with dangmyeon and the correct seasonings.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 6 people
Japchae in bowl

Ingredients
  

For the sauce

  • 6 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • 6 tablespoons sugar

The noodles and meat

  • 250 grams dangmyeon dry weight
  • 300 grams thinly sliced beef
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine

For the vegetables

For stir frying

  • 5 teaspoons cooking oil divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic divided
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 to 4 cups spinach leaves blanched and squeezed (I measured after blanching and squeezing)
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds divided

To garnish

Instructions
 

  • Start by making the sauce. Stir all the ingredients together until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Boil about a liter and a half of water in a pot. Drop in the noodles, pressing them down into the hot water. When the water starts boiling once more, lower the heat, cover the pot and let the noodles simmer for seven to eight minutes.
  • Drain the noodles and dump into a bowl of iced water. This will stop the cooking and prevent the noodles from turning soggy. Let the noodles sit in the cold water for a few minutes then drain once more.
    Soaking boiled glass noodles in sauce to make japchae
  • Pour half of the sauce over the noodles and toss to distribute evenly. Leave to allow the noodles soak up the flavors.
    Seasoning the beef or cooking japchae
  • Cut the beef into strips about half an inch thick. Place in a bowl. Pour in the rice wine and the remaining sauce. Mix well.
  • Julienne the carrot and bell pepper.
    Soicing vegetables for making japchae
  • Thinly slice the onion and mushroom caps.
  • Cut the scallions into one-inch lengths.
  • In a bowl, beat the eggs with salt and pepper.
    Slicing an omelette for japchae
  • Heat one teaspoon of cooking oil in a clean pan. Pour in the beaten eggs. Cook until set. Roll up and move to a chopping board. Slice thinly.
  • Heat another teaspoon of cooking oil in a wok. Mix the beef once more to make sure that all the sauce sticks to it. Spread on the hot oil. Sprinkle in half of the minced garlic. Stir fry for four to five minutes. Scoop out and move to a bowl.
    Sauteeing vegetables for japchae
  • Heat another teaspoon of oil in the wok. Add the carrot, bell pepper, mushrooms, sliced onion, scallions and the remaining minced garlic. Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Stir fry for about two minutes. Scoop out and move to a plate.
  • Heat the fourth teaspoon of oil in the wok. Spread the blanched and squeezed spinach leaves on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle in salt, pepper and a teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds. Stir fry for a minute. Scoop out and transfer to a bowl.
  • Heat the last teaspoon of cooking oil. Dump in the noodles. Sprinkle in a teaspoonful of toasted sesame seeds. Stir fry until the noodles are heated through.
  • Add the stir fried vegetables to the noodles. Toss to distribute evenly.
    Mixing the vegetables, noodles, beef and eggs to make japchae
  • Add the beef and remaining teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds to the noodles and vegetables. Toss to distribute.
  • Garnish the japchae with the egg and more toasted sesame seeds.

Notes

Updated from two posts originally published February of 2007 and August 19, 2017, respectively
Keyword Noodles, Stir Fry