Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles)

I’m excited to share japchae, aka Korean glass noodles, with you. It was first served at the Korean royal courts in the early 1600s, and now is traditionally made for parties or celebrations. The usual japchae is made of sweet potato starch noodles (dangmyeon) stir fried with thinly sliced vegetables, typically carrots, onions, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, as well as beef.

Dangmyeon are a part of the cellophane noodles, a group of noodles made from starch, such as mung bean, yam, potato starch, and cassava. They look purplish-grey when uncooked but became a clear translucent light gray or brownish-gray color. The texture is springy and chewy, and I find them much lighter than flour noodles – pasta makes me feel so much heavier. As a perk for those celiacs out there, these noodles are gluten free (The Kitchn).

Interestingly, you can (supposedly) make japchae without the noodles, but I think most people wouldn’t recognize it without the characteristic noodles. In a pinch, you can use regular vermicelli (which turns white instead of clear) if you can’t find japchae, but it’s really quite the same.

This is my first time cooking with dangmyeon; I’ve been experimenting with different noodles since we’ve been battling weevils and bugs in the rice and flour all summer, but they never seem interested in noodles and pasta. (Another bonus is that noodles are much faster to cook than rice!) No matter how long I store my noodles and pasta, the bugs ignore it them.

While I’ve safely sealed my other grains in jars, I’ve mostly stopped eating rice and moved on the noodles (hey, if you can’t beat the bugs, then starve them!).

This recipe was adapted from Steamy Kitchen and Maangchi. I made a few modifications to make it easier. The proper way to stir fry is to cook each type of vegetable since each requires a different length of cooking time, but I just stir fried mostly everything together to make it easier, putting the ingredients that needed to cook longer first.

While there’s a lot of components in japchae, but it’s worth it! You can make a huge amount for a party or eat it all by yourself for a week like I did. All my colleagues were super jealous when I was munching this in the call room.

Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles)

1/2 pound Korean sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon)
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 lb beef, cut into thin strips, marinated in Bulgogi sauce (optional)
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (fresh or rehydrated dried is fine)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup spinach, washed and drained
1-2 stalks green onions, diced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 eggs, for egg garnish (jidan)

Boil a large pot of water, then add the noodles and cook until softened. Drain and rinse with cold water, then toss with sesame oil to keep noodles from sticking. Set aside.
Heat the cooking oil in a wok on high heat. Stir fry onions with bulgogi beef (if using). Remove meat and onions and set aside. Add more cooking oil, then stir fry the mushrooms, garlic and carrots in the wok for 1 minute.

Return the noodles in the wok with the vegetables, then fry with the soy sauce and sugar. Fry 2-3 minutes until the noodles are cooked through, tossing with remaining 1 1/2 tsp of sesame oil and the beef and onions. Finally, add the spinach and stir fry for about 30 seconds (this will cook the quickest). transfer your japchae to a large plate for serving.

To make the jidan, crack 2 eggs in a bowl, whisk to combine yolks and whites, then cook in a small skillet. Flip when one side is cooked. Let cool, then cut your egg omelet into strips. Add on top of you japchae. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

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  1. I am a huge fan of glass noodles. This is a wonderful recipe which I have pinned to make for my family! I love your comination of vegetables – so healthy and delicious. This will be in the regular rotation for us – Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  2. What I like from your blog posts is you inject a sense of humor with those tiny characters. It feels like a mild soft sweetness of a glass orange juice under a cool temperature.

  3. Love this dish! First had this while backpacking through South Korea and a couchsurfing host prepared this for my boyfriend and I. She let me help so I could write down her family recipe so that was fun! And a delicious Korean feast : )

  4. I've been dying for an authentic stir fry, this looks delicious! I've never tried those noodles before, I'm going to look for them tomorrow. This recipe is definitely going on my meal plan for the week! I can't wait to try it!!

  5. This looks really good. I have never tried glass noodles. We usually use Soba noodles. Can you tell me the difference. Is it a texture thing? I am pinning so we can try for Meatless Monday.

  6. Hi Chanelle, soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour. It does have a very different texture – flour noodles are a little heavier (like spahgetti). These are more similar to vermicelli / rice noodles but still it's hard to substitute since the sweet potato starch is so unique. You can try find in your local asian / ethnic market or order from amazon.

    However, if you need to substitute, I would use vermicelli over soba noodles. Best of luck