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Japchae - Korean Mixed Noodles

Not all Korean dishes are spicy. Here is one of my favorite non-spicy noodle dishes. It is made from sweet potato starch noodles. They turn clear when cooked and has no distinct flavor of its own but it absorbs all the delicious flavors from what you add. They have a great stretch and chew to them. In Chinese cooking it is like the mung bean noodles but much thicker. The recipe can have meat or not. Delicious, healthy and rich in color and textures.

When I was introducing my mom to Korean food, this is one of the first dishes I ordered for her in a restaurant and I always make this at home when she visits. Full of veggies and great textures. Add some bulgogi if you want but I like keeping mine vegetarian. Serve as a main or a side.

Japchae - Korean Mixed Noodles

Ingredients (serves 4)

8 oz fresh spinach leaves (about 4-5 cups)

6 oz Korean sweet potato noodles, soaked in cold water for about 30 minutes

4-5 large dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water at least 30 minutes, sliced thin

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, about 1 cup, sliced medium thin

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (I like using baby portabellas)

1 large carrot, about 1 cup, cut into 2" matchsticks

1/2 cup red bell peppers, sliced thin (optional)

4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced, about 3 Tablespoons

3-4 stalks scallions, cut into 2" pieces

2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons water

1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)


Soak sweet potato noodles in cold water for 30 minutes. Soak shitake mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes. Set aside.

Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring up to a rolling boil. **You will use this water twice, once for spinach then for noodles. Do not drain after spinach.** Add spinach and cook for 30 seconds-1 minute and remove with chopsticks or a spider to a colander. Rinse under cold water for 1 minute. Squeeze out excess liquid and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Mix in 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce and set aside.

Add soaked no noodles next in the same boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water for 1 minute. Leave in colander. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, mix loosely and set aside.

If you haven't already, destem softened, rehydrated shitake mushrooms and slice into thin slices.

Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. When the oil is shimmery, add the onions and cook 2 minutes until it starts turning translucent. Keep it moving and try not to brown. Add sliced, shitake, sliced fresh mushrooms, sliced carrots, peppers (if using), garlic and scallions. Stir for 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons water and stir to evenly coat and cook for 1 minute. Add noodles, mix and cook together 1-2 minutes until no liquid on bottom. Turn off heat and transfer to mixing bowl and mix with the spinach. Serve immediately or can be served at room temperature. Enjoy!

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