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Japchae - Korean Mixed Sweet Potato "Glass" Noodles

In addition to bibimbap, japchae is another amazing choice as an introduction to Korean food. Japchae is made of sweet potato noodles and like bibimbap, any number of mix ins. The base of this dish is the noodle which is made from sweet potato starch. It does not make the noodles taste like sweet potatoes at all. It barely has any taste but soaks in the flavor from the sauce you mix in. When cooked it turns clear and has a delightful chewy bite. This dish can have meat or not and you can include many different kinds of veggies. Keep it colorful. Like bibimbap there are just a variety of flavors and textures in each bite!

In this version I'm keeping it vegetarian. But feel free to add in any kind of thin strips of marinated meat like beef, chicken or pork and you can also garnish with thinly sliced egg omelet.

Japchae - Mixed Sweet Potato Noodles

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

8 oz dried sweet potato noodles, soaked in cold water and cut in half with scissors

1 small bunch fresh spinach, (or about 8 oz leaves) washed

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

3 stalks green onions, thinly sliced

4-5 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks

4-6 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water, sliced into strips (if you can't find this you can use a small container of sliced baby portabellas)

1 small red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips (optional)

light flavored oil such as vegetable or avocado oil

soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

sesame seeds(black or white or mix of both) for garnish (optional)


Bring a medium saucepan of water up to a boil. Add the spinach and blanch for about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove leaves to a colander and rinse under cold running water for 2-3 minutes turning until spinach is cooled. While the spinach is rinsing and cooling, add the noodles to the boiling water. Use chopsticks or a spoon to push the noodles down to fully submerge. Cook noodles for about 7 minutes or until soft but still chewy.

Pick up cooled spinach by the handful and squeeze out excess water and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and mix to evenly coat. Set aside.

Drain the noodles and transfer to same bowl as spinach, just to the side. Mix in 2 tablespoons of sesame oil to add flavor and keep the noodles from sticking.

Heat a non-stick or heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is shimmery, add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes until onions turn translucent and start to soften. Add green onions and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove to mixing bowl with noodles and spinach. To the same pan add garlic, carrots, shitake mushrooms, and red bell pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and sauté for 1-2 minutes or just until veggies start to soften. Remove to mixing bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper to the mixing bowl and mix everything together until well mixed and well coated. Adjust seasonings to your taste. May need more soy sauce or sesame oil. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve hot or room temperature.

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