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Japchae (Korean Stir-Fried Sweet Potato Noodles) Recipe

Japchae (Korean Stir-Fried Sweet Potato Noodles)
Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: | Makes: 4 to 6 servings

This classic Korean noodle dish combines translucent sweet potato noodles with lots of stir-fried vegetables and a sweet-savory sauce. To make it, sauté mushrooms, carrots, onion, garlic, and spinach, then throw in the cooked noodles with some soy sauce mixed with brown sugar. Once it’s all evenly heated, top with scallions and toasted sesame seeds and serve with a Korean barbecue meal, or take it to work for a light vegetarian lunch.

What to buy: Korean sweet potato noodles, also known as starch noodles or Korean vermicelli, are made from sweet potato starch and water. When cooked, these dried gray noodles turn clear. Do not confuse them with Korean “cold noodles,” which are made from buckwheat. Korean sweet potato noodles can be found in Asian or Korean markets.

Game plan: If fresh shiitake mushrooms are not available, substitute dried. Cover 1 ounce of dried whole shiitake mushrooms with hot tap water and let sit until softened, at least 4 hours or overnight. Trim off the tough stems and slice the caps thinly. They need more time to cook than fresh mushrooms, so cook with the onions and carrots and then proceed with the recipe.

This recipe was featured as part of our Easy Weeknight Vegetarian Main Dishes.

INGREDIENTS
  • 8 ounces dried Korean sweet potato noodles
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1-1/2-inch matchsticks
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 medium scallion, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles, stir to separate them, and boil until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until cool. Using scissors, cut the noodles into 6- to 8-inch lengths. With the noodles still in the colander, drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil and toss to coat; set aside.
  2. Mix the soy sauce and sugar together in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved; set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the carrots, onion, measured salt, and measured pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes.
  4. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the spinach and, using tongs, toss to combine. Let cook until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add the reserved noodles and soy sauce mixture and toss until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the scallion and sesame seeds. Serve immediately or at room temperature.