Monday, September 10, 2012

Jap Chae

 (Adapted from Steamy Kitchen)
Jap Chae is a Korean dish, made using glass noodles. These vermicelli type noodles are made from sweet potato starch.  When I think vermicelli, my mind goes directly to the rice kind, often used in Vietnamese dishes, so I was excited to try this sweet potato version.  Pretty easy to make, Jap Chae was an instant hit in this house hold.

Here's a little history. History is always pretty interesting....
Japchae was first made in the early 17th century, when the Joseon Dynasty was reigning in the Korean peninsula. When King Gwanghaegun hosted a big party at his palace, one of his lieges, Yi Chung, created this dish to please the king’s palate. The king liked this dish so much that he rewarded his liege by promoting him to the position of hojo panseo (hangul: 호조판서, hanja, equivalent to the Secretary of the Treasury).[1] At the time, japchae was made with vegetables and mushrooms, such as sliced cucumber, shredded mu, and pyogo (shiitake) mushroom. Since the early 20th century, dangmyeon (cellophane noodles made from sweet potato starch) has become an integral and primary ingredient of this variety of japchae.
(Retrieved from


  • 1/2 pound dried Korean sweet potato noodles - found at any Asian market.
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks scallions, cut into 1″ lengths
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced - I used Wood Ear.
  • 1/2 lb spinach - I used pre-bagged to be simple.
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds


 Boil the noodles for approx. 5 minutes.  Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil - this helps prevent sticking.

Chop all your vegetables.  I was able to find fresh wood ear mushrooms at the Asian market. If you can't, you can always grab some of the dried ones, or even some shitake.  For the dried ones, you'll have to soak them in water for about 15 minutes, drain them and then they'll be ready to cook.

Mix the soy sauce and sugar and set aside.

Fire up your wok.  Add the tablespoon of oil in and swirl it around to coat the wok.

Start with the carrots and onions. You'll want to stir fry them until they are soft.

Next, toss in the garlic, scallions, and mushrooms. Stir fry for half a minute.
Now add the spinach, noodles, soy sauce, and sugar.  Mix it all together and stir fry until the spinach has wilted, and the noodles are heated through. 
Turn off heat, toss with sesame seeds and remaining 1 1/2 tsp of sesame oil.

Eat like a king.

**  I added some tofu to the dish. **  

  • 1 package of firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. Drain and cut tofu into bite sized cubes.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and set aside - except the oil. Taste it.. add more sugar if you want it sweeter.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet until hot, but not smoking.  
  4. Add the tofu, turning gently until its coated with the oil. Shake the pan from time to time so nothing sticks. Fry the tofu until it turns yellow, but not crispy and brown.
  5. Add the sauce and stir gently to blend.
  6. Cover the skillet and turn the heat down. Let it set for about 5 minutes or so.  You can add a spoon or two of water if the sauce dries up.
  7. Add to your Jap Chae when ready to serve.