Japchae is a Korean stir-fry noodle dish with meat and vegetables. If you’re a vegetarian, you can omit the meat without it impacting the overall flavor of the dish. You can eat japchae as a side dish or main dish and it can be served hot or at room temperature. I remember when I was younger my mom making gigantic bowls of this noodle dish for large gatherings. Her japchae was always the best out of everyone else’s. This recipe is my attempt to replicate my mom’s version and I think it does a pretty good job at that!




Serves 8



1 hrTotal Time

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  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 oz Korean potato starch noodles
  • 6 oz fresh spinach
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 4 ounces bulgogi
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 tsp black pepper, divided
  • Sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 3 1/2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds


  1. Re-hydrate the mushrooms by soaking them in boiling water for 30 minutes or until soft. Drain, squeezing out excess water, and slice.
  2. Make the sauce for the japchae by combining the soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, and water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the potato starch noodles and cook for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Drain the noodles and rinse in cold water. Cut the noodles with scissors and mix with 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Set aside.
  4. Bring another pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season with salt. Add the spinach and quickly blanch for 30 seconds or just until wilted. Drain and shock in cold water. Squeeze out the excess water and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp of oil on a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and season with 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper. Saute until the onions become translucent, about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, heat another 1 tbsp of oil. Add the thinly sliced carrots and season with 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper. Saute until the carrots begin to slightly soften, about 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside. Use the same pan to cook the bulgogi until no longer pink. Remove and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked onions, carrots, bulgogi, spinach, noodles, and sliced mushrooms. Add 1/2 cup of the sauce along with the sesame oil and sesame seeds; mix together. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more sauce if necessary. Serve hot or at room temperature.


**Helpful tips and common mistakes

Japchae is a dish that holds many ingredients; you can choose to eliminate some items or add your own such as bell peppers or another type of protein.

When you are re-hydrating the mushrooms, you will notice that the mushrooms float to the top of the water. Keep them completely submerged in the hot water by placing a weight on top.

rehydrated mushrooms

After 30 minutes, look at the difference between the dried and soaked mushroom! When slicing, remove the stem, which can still be tough and chewy.

rehydrated mushrooms

When cooking the spinach, keep an eye on the greens since it will cook very quickly. Immediately submerging the spinach in an ice bath will help preserve the bright green color. Make sure to squeeze out the excess water to prevent it from watering down the Japchae.

Although Japchae usually doesn’t have egg, just for kicks, I added it in today’s lunch. To make the egg, whisk 2 eggs together. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat with oil. When the pan is nice and hot, slowly add the egg to the pan. Swirl the pan around to make a thin egg crepe. Season with salt and pepper. When the egg has set on the bottom, carefully flip it over to cook the other side. Remove when done and cut 1/4 inch wide strips. Set aside.

egg omelet

Japchae uses glass noodles also known as sweet potato noodles. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for the glass noodles because they are quite unique in texture.


If you want to add meat to your japchae, you can add bulgogi, Korean marinated beef. You can find pre-marinated beef at Asian markets or make your own at home. I went with the pre-marinated version this time but perhaps next time I will make my own version (and share the recipe with you!). If bulgogi is not accessible in your area, substitute with sirloin beef. Slice it into thin strips, cook until no longer pink, and season with 3 tablespoons of the prepared sauce.

Once you have all your ingredients ready, it’s time to mix together!

Japchae prep

Japchae is a very well known Korean dish and one of my favorites. It involves a lot of steps and can take some time, but it is well worth it. There’s a balance of sweet and salty from both the sauce and vegetables; even the bulgogi is slightly sweet. Japchae is best when eaten fresh since the noodles soak up all of the sauce as it sits. Serve as a side dish to your meal or enjoy as the main entree.



Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.


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