Easy Japchae (Korean Glass Noodle Stir Fry)

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 06/09/2023 Updated: 19/01/2024
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 30 minutes
Bright, colorful japchae, or Korean glass noodles is made with a bouncy sweet potato starch noodles, vibrant sauteed vegetables, tender beef and coated in a sweet, savory and umami sauce.
Easy Japchae (Korean Glass Noodle Stir Fry)

Bright, colorful japchae or Korean glass noodles with stir-fried vegetables are made with bouncy sweet potato starch noodles, vibrant sauteed vegetables, and tender beef and coated in a sweet, savory, and umami sauce.

Chopsticks lifting up a bunch of japchae from a bowl.

Japchae is a traditional and versatile dish that is celebrated in Korean cuisine. These Korean glass noodles are known for their rainbow of vegetables, tender beef, chewy translucent sweet potato glass noodles, and a sweet, savory, and umami japchae sauce.

This easy japchae recipe is a must-try dish that has delicious complex flavors and a striking presentation. These japchae noodles are very versatile! They can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or as a main dish.

There is no question why this glass noodle stir fry is a fan favorite for celebrations and family gatherings. If you are looking for more Korean cuisine inspiration, check out our budae jjigae (Korean army stew), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and soondubu jjigae (Korean spicy soft tofu soup).

A bowl of japchae surrounded by table settings.

What is Japchae?

Japchae (잡채) is a traditional savory and sweet Korean noodle stir fry dish that is made with sweet potato glass noodles (dangmyeon), a rainbow of vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, and scallions) and they can be prepared as a vegetarian dish or with sliced beef or pork. All of these elements are then tossed together with soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil sauce for a salty, sweet, and nutty finish. Korean japchae noodles are then finished with sesame seeds for added crunch and nuttiness.

Japchae was created as a royal dish and was considered a luxurious and elegant dish. Now these Korean glass noodles are one of the most popular traditional celebration dishes that are often served on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and holidays.

Up close with a bowl of japchae noodles.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy to Make. This japchae recipe simplifies the preparation process of cooking all the vegetables individually, so you can enjoy the same delicious flavors in half the time!
  • Healthy and Nutrient Rich. Made with a variety of vegetables, lean protein, and a delicious japchae sauce, these Korean glass noodles provide essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Versatile and Customizable. Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat lover, you can customize this glass noodles recipe based on your preferences.
Looking down at a bowl of japchae noodles.

Kitchen Equipment

You will need the following items of kitchen equipment for this japchae recipe. I’ve linked everything I used below.

  • Mixing Bowls: You will need a variety of small, medium, and large mixing bowls to prep the japchae sauce, marinate the beef, and toss the Korean stir-fry noodles and vegetables together.
  • Medium Pot: A medium pot is necessary to cook the sweet potato glass noodles and to blanch the spinach.
  • Large Skillet: you will need a large skillet to saute the vegetables, and cook the beef and the eggs.
  • Kitchen Shears: Kitchen shears are useful to cut glass noodles into smaller pieces.

Ingredients

All of the ingredients for this Korean glass noodles recipe can be found at your local Asian grocery store, Korean grocery store, or online! I’ve linked all the japchae ingredients you can find online below.

Beef Marinade

  • Sliced Rib Eye Beef: Rib eye is popular for Japchae noodles because it has a good balance of marbling that adds flavor and tenderness.
  • Garlic: Garlic adds a rich aromatic flavor to the beef.
  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is the main savory base for the marinade.
  • Brown Sugar: brown sugar sweetens the soy sauce for a sweet and savory beef.
  • Black Pepper: black pepper is used to season the beef.
Sliced beef and seasonings organized in misen plas.

Japchae Sauce

  • Soy sauce: Soy sauce is the main base in the japchae sauce.
  • Sesame Oil: Sesame oil adds a nutty umami flavor to the japchae noodles.
  • Brown Sugar: brown sugar sweetens the soy sauce.
  • Honey: A touch of honey adds a floral, natural earthy sweetness to the japchae sauce.
  • Black pepper: black pepper to add an extra earthy flavor profile to the sauce.
All the ingredients to make the sauce for japchae.

Glass Noodles and Stir Fry

  • Dangmyeon (당면): Korean sweet potato noodles are gray when dry and become almost transparent when cooked hence the term “glass noodles.” These noodles are meant to be soft, chewy, and bouncy.
  • Vegetables: baby spinach, carrots, and bell peppers.
  • Shiitake Mushrooms: Make sure to trim and discard the stems off the shiitake mushrooms before slicing.
  • Aromatics: garlic, onion, and green onions are the main aromatics for the rich savory flavors.
  • Eggs: The eggs are whisked and cooked into a thin omelet and sliced.
  • Salt: Every step of the way a sprinkle of salt will season every individual component of this glass noodle stir fry.
All the stir fry ingredients for make japchae.

Garnish

  • Toasted sesame seeds: Toasted sesame seeds are sprinkled as a garnish for an added crunch and nutty finish.

Substitutions and Additions

You can customize your glass noodles recipe by swapping out your proteins! I’ve listed some suggestions for you below.

Substitutions

  • Beef: Instead of ribeye, you can alternatively use sirloin, flank steak, or tenderloin. Make sure to thinly slice it for quick cooking and tenderness.
  • Pork: Instead of beef, you can alternatively use thinly sliced pork loin, pork shoulder, pork tenderloin, or pork belly.
  • Mushrooms: You can alternatively use or add wood ear mushrooms to your glass noodles recipe.
  • Vegetarian japchae: If you’d like to make a vegetarian japchae, you can eliminate the beef altogether and add more shiitake mushrooms!
  • Brown sugar or honey: You can alternatively use just brown sugar or honey for the japchae sauce instead of mixing both.

Additions

  • Spicy: If you’d like to make your glass noodle stir fry spicy, add some Korean red pepper flakes to the sauce.
  • Vegetables: For a less traditional version, you can add more vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, snap peas, etc.

How to Make Japchae

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this japchae recipe. I recommend having all of the vegetables prepped in advance before you begin cooking for a seamless cook.

Beef Marinade

  1. Marinate the beef. Place the sliced beef into a bowl and add the minced garlic, soy sauce, sugar, and black pepper. Mix and cover for 15-20 minutes to marinade.
Beef being mixed together with seasonings to marinate.

Sauce and Noodles

  1. Mix the sauce. In a mixing bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, honey, and ground pepper. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
The japchae sauce mixed together in a bowl.
  1. Cook the noodles. Bring water to a large pot to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Then drain and rinse under cold running water. Roughly cut the noodles to be about 6 inches long with kitchen shears to shorten the noodles.

Vegetables and Protein

  1. Blanch the spinach. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Blanch the spinach for about 30 seconds. Then drain and shock with cold water. Squeeze out any excess water, gently season with salt, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  1. Saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat cooking oil and saute sliced onion, and green onion. Cook until translucent and fragrant. Then add the sliced mushrooms and lightly season with salt. Cook for about lightly softened. Remove and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Sauteeing mushrooms, green onions, yellow onion, and garlic in a large skillet.
  1. Saute bell pepper and carrot. In the same skillet over medium heat, heat cooking oil, add the carrots and bell pepper, and lightly season with salt. Cook until lightly softened but still crisp. Remove and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Cooking sliced red peppers and sliced carrots in a large skillet.
  1. Cook the eggs. Lightly whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt. In the same skillet over medium heat, heat a thin layer of cooking oil and add the eggs. Lift the pan and spread the egg out into a thin omelet. Then flip and remove once cooked. Transfer to a cutting board, gently roll the egg, cut it into thin strips, and add to a large mixing bowl.
  1. Cook the beef. Lightly oil the skillet over medium-high heat, add the beef, and cook on each side until cooked through. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Cooking sliced beef in a large skillet.
  1. Season the noodles. In the same skillet over medium-low heat. Add the noodles and the sauce. Stir fry the noodles while stirring frequently until translucent and the sauce is all absorbed. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Cooking glass noodles with japchae sauce in a large skillet.
  1. Finish and serve. Add the sesame seeds, gently mix together everything into the noodles to combine, and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Tips for the Best Japchae

  • Prepare the ingredients in advance. This japchae recipe is an easy dish to make if you have all the ingredients prepped before you begin cooking.
  • Boil and saute simultaneously. To save time, boil the noodles and blanch the spinach while you are individually sauteing the vegetables.
  • Avoid overcooking the vegetables. The vegetables should be crisp and slightly crunchy for textural contrast to the chewy glass noodles. Taste the vegetables to test for doneness!
  • Cut the noodles! Cutting the Japchae glass noodles will help you toss everything together at the end.
  • Gently heat the noodles with the sauce until absorbed. Use medium-low or low heat to cook the noodles in the sauce. We want the noodles to be warm enough to absorb the sauce but not too hot to burn off the delicious sesame oil flavor.

Storage Instructions

This Korean glass noodles recipe is best served immediately. However, you can store any leftover japchae noodles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Reheat: Cover in the microwave until warm.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

Are japchae noodles healthy?

Yes! Japchae noodles are considered healthy. The sweet potato starch noodles are naturally low in fat and calories. The dish is then loaded with vegetables which provide a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Do you serve japchae hot or cold?

These Korean stir-fry noodles can be served either hot or cold.

Is Japchae a vegetarian dish?

Yes! Traditionally, this Korean glass noodle dish was prepared as a vegetarian dish. You can simply omit the beef in this recipe for a vegetarian version.

Can I make it ahead of time?

Yes, this glass noodle recipe is perfect for meal prep. In fact, the flavors often develop and come together better when it has time to sit. Simply store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Did you make this Japchae?

If you made this dish and loved it, please leave a review and comment below. We would greatly appreciate it!

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A bowl of japchae surrounded by table settings.

Easy Japchae (Korean Glass Noodle Stir Fry)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Bright, colorful japchae, or Korean glass noodles is made with a bouncy sweet potato starch noodles, vibrant sauteed vegetables, tender beef and coated in a sweet, savory and umami sauce.
Servings: 4
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Beef Marinade

  • ½ lb rib eye steak sliced into 2 inch long pieces
  • 2 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar packed
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Japchae Sauce

Glass Noodles and Stir Fry

  • 7 oz dangmyeon Korean sweet potato glass noodles
  • 4 cups (5 oz) baby spinach
  • 4 cloves garlic minced about 1 heaping tablespoon
  • ½ onion thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks green onion sliced into 2 inch pieces
  • 6-7 shiitake mushrooms stems removed and sliced
  • 1 carrot peeled and julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • Salt to season

Garnish

Instructions

Beef Marinade

  • Marinate the beef. Place the sliced beef into a bowl and add the minced garlic, soy sauce, sugar, and black pepper. Mix and cover for 15-20 minutes to marinade.

Japchae Sauce and Noodles

  • Mix the sauce. In a mixing bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, honey, and ground pepper. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Cook the noodles. Bring water to a large pot to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Then drain and rinse under cold running water. Roughly cut the noodles with kitchen shears to shorten the noodles.

Vegetables and Beef

  • Blanch the spinach. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Blanch the spinach until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Then drain and shock with cold water. Squeeze out any excess water, gently season with salt, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat cooking oil and saute sliced onion, and green onion. Cook until translucent and fragrant about 1-2 minutes. Then add the sliced mushrooms and lightly season with salt. Cook for about lightly softened about 1-2 minutes. Remove and transfer to the same large mixing bowl.
  • Saute bell pepper and carrot. In the same skillet over medium heat, heat cooking oil, add the carrots and bell pepper, and lightly season with salt. Cook for about 1-2 minutes or until lightly softened but still crisp. Remove and transfer to the same large mixing bowl.
  • Cook the eggs. Lightly whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt. In the same skillet over medium heat, heat a thin layer of cooking oil and add the eggs. Lift the pan and spread the egg out into a thin omelet. Then flip and transfer to a cutting board, gently roll the egg, and cut into thin strips. Transfer to the same large mixing bowl.
  • Cook the beef. Lightly oil the skillet over medium-high heat, add the beef, and cook on each side until cooked through about 1 1/2-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to the same large mixing bowl.
  • Season the noodles. In the same skillet over medium-low heat. Add the noodles and the sauce. Stir fry the noodles while stirring frequently until translucent and the sauce is all absorbed. About 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Finish and serve. Add the sesame seeds, gently mix together everything into the noodles to combine, and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Prepare the ingredients in advance. This japchae recipe is an easy dish to make if you have all the ingredients prepped before you begin cooking.
  • Boil and saute simultaneously. To save time, boil the noodles and blanch the spinach while you are individually sauteing the vegetables.
  • Avoid overcooking the vegetables. The vegetables should be crisp and slightly crunchy for textural contrast to the chewy glass noodles. Taste the vegetables to test for doneness!
  • Cut the noodles! Cutting the Japchae glass noodles will tremendously help you toss everything together at the end.
  • Gently heat the noodles with the sauce until absorbed. Use medium-low or low heat to cook the noodles in the sauce. We want the noodles to be warm enough to absorb the sauce but not too hot to burn off the delicious sesame oil flavor.
  • Storage Instructions: This Korean glass noodles recipe is best served immediately. However, you can store any leftover japchae noodles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Nutrition:

Calories: 503kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 1634mg | Potassium: 681mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 6671IU | Vitamin C: 52mg | Calcium: 115mg | Iron: 4mg

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