Growing up in Korea, I always looked forward to celebrating Korean Lunar New Year’s Day. It was the best time of the year for me. The house would be filled with relatives and guests from near and far. The kitchen would be bustling from all the cooking and chattering ladies. The tables would have spreads of delicious food, delicacies and sweets. The colorful traditional Korean clothing everyone wore brightened up the gathering spaces. Not to mention other ongoing actives like playing folk games, giving respectful bows and partaking in ancestral rituals. I didn’t quite get the ancestral ritual part, but the food I did. And one of the dishes that never missed a New Year’s Day Table was– Japchae.
Japchae can be intimidating for many, but if you break down all the components, it’s really not that complicated. I suggest following my method for your homemade japchae and you will not regret it! It’s super healthy and delicious!! If you like sweet and chewy noodles, with savory meat and crunchy vegetables, give this recipe a try!! You will love it!!
When did japchae originate?
The original Japchae traces back to 17th century, enjoyed by royal courts, which is believed to be a vegetarian dish. Japchae still remains a popular dish today, but with meat and veggies. I don’t think I appreciated it as much when I was a kid. Looking back, it’s such a nice dish that’s bright, colorful, tasty and healthy!
how is japchae related to korean lunar new year?
Korean Lunar New Years, 설날 (Seollal) is a 3-day holiday, similar to Chinese New Years. The exact date is dependent on the second new moon after the winter solstice, meaning it can take place in January or February of that year. Japchae is one of the food commonly served on Korean Lunar New Year’s Day among other delicious foods.
what else goes on seollal?
I have fond memories of New Year’s Day in Korea. As a little child, the best part that I remember the most would be all the delicious food displayed on the big table. It was called the ancestral table. My grandmother was really into this ceremony and it had to be just perfect. The best food had to be displayed, the biggest fruits and the best quality meat. Honestly I think my mom dreaded this holiday the most. But for me it was heavenly!
what kind of noodles do i need for japchae?
The type of noodles you need is called glass noodles/sweet potato noodles/vermicelli. They are made out of sweet potato starch, which also means it’s gluten free. They are quite hard in texture and need to be boiled until tender to be edible. They do store well in the pantry which is a nice thing. After you boil it until soft, it can be eaten as is, or stir fried. For this recipe, I did not stir fry the noodles but marinated with sauce only. I call this the clean and less oily method. However it needs to be eaten right away, vs the stir-fried version. The stir-fried version does last longer in fridge. Japchae made in restaurants and sold in Asian markets are typically stir-fried.
Can i substitue the ingredients?
If you plan to make traditional japchae, please refrain from substituting the noodles. For Japchae, everything should be very long and slender. Which also makes it easier to eat and pick up with chopsticks. You can certainly omit the meat to make this dish vegetarian. And use tamari sauce instead of soy sauce.
- Ottogi Korean Vermicelli Dang Myun Glass Noodles
- Sempio Soy Sauce Jin S 31.4 Fl Oz.
- Kadoya 100% Pure Sesame Oil 5.5 oz
- assi Roasted Sesame Seeds, 16 Ounce
- Organic Dried Shiitake Mushroom Slices
- Mitsukan Seasoning Cooking Sweet Mirin
Korean Japchae, Glass Noodles with Stir-Fried Meat & Vegetables
- 12 gram dry shiitake mushroom, sliced
- 13 oz Glass noodles/Sweet potato noodles
- ½ onion, medium sliced
- ⅓ Red sweet pepper sliced
- 5 oz spinach
- 1 med carrot julienned
- 3.5 oz beef flap meat sliced
- 1 stalk scallion chopped
- ½ Tbsp Korean soy sauce
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ Tbsp mirin
- ½ Tbsp sesame oil
- ½ Tbsp garlic minced
- 1 pinch black pepper
Sauce for the noodles
- 4½ Tbsp Korean Soy Sauce
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1½ Tbsp garlic minced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4-5 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- Soak shiitake mushroom in warm water for about 1-2hours or until soft.
- Bring water to boil in a stock pot. Into boiling water, add spinach for 25-30 seconds. Grab with tong and transfer into ice water, soak until leaves are cold. Rinse, drain and squeeze well. Set aside and add pinch of salt. Toss.
- Into the same boiling water, add sweet pototo noodles. Boil for about 6min or until soft. Rinse in cold water and let it drain in strainer.
- Make meat sauce and marinate meat. Set aside. Squeeze water from mushroom and set aside to stir fry.
- Into a large mixing bowl, place the noodles. Cut the noodles with scissors and pour in the noodles seasonings. Toss with gloves on. Taste and adjust the seasoning per your liking, then add sesame oil and give another toss.
- Chop veggies and stir fry from lightest color to darkest in order. Add little oil into the pan and stir fry: onion, carrot, red pepper, mushroom and meat last. Add pinch of salt to each vegetable when cooking.
- Place all the cooked vegetables and meat on top of noodles, including spinach. Toss well with hand. Add sesame seeds and scallion and toss.
- Place into a serving bowl. Serve warm or cold.
- To reheat, place on a non-stick skillet and stir fry in medium low heat for few minutes.