A simple vegetarian variation of a classic Korean noodle dish, japchae, with the addition of sautéed soybean sprouts. Enjoy with a slight spicy punch from a wasabi dipping sauce!
Brought to you by the popular Korean TV show, Soo-mi’s Side Dishes. She makes this traditional dish variation easy and more approachable but still authentic and delicious.
What is traditional japchae (잡채)?
Japchae is a traditional Korean dish made from sweet potato glass noodles (dangmyeon 당면), stir fried vegetables and often stir fried beef strips. Dangmyeon has a chewy texture that soaks in the sauces that it’s cooked in. It’s often served on special occasions or Korean holidays (birthdays, New Years Day, Harvest Festival). While the traditional dish may look simple, each of the vegetables are prepared separately to develop the individual flavors before they are mixed together for a colorful noodle dish.
Asides from the traditional dish, there are several variations to japchae with some easier than others! And that’s why kongnamul japchae is great. A similar flavor, but simpler to make and also vegetarian!
So then, what is kongnamul japchae (콩나물 잡채)?
Kongnamul = soybean sprout, is a vegetable that’s used commonly in Korean cooking from traditional dishes to newer more recently popular dishes like this spicy soybean sprout pork bulgogi dish!
Kongnamul japchae is more simple to make than the traditional version. It still involves chopping up the vegetables but require less prep work ahead as the vegetables don’t require to be stir-fried separately. The kongnamul and cucumbers that are added to the japchae bring a nice crunchy texture to the chewy noodles. The seasoning in the noodles is also very mild because the noodles are dipped in a soy sauce and vinegar mixture. If you want it a bit more seasoned, add a bit more soy sauce or salt to the japchae noodles. DrJuh and I found them just right.
Japchae is best served at room temperature – immediately after cooking or a few hours later. If being made for a larger festivity, my mom will often make japchae in the morning and leave it covered on the counter for a few hours. It makes it easy for a dinner party.
Reheating: The dish should be stored in a container in the fridge. Once refrigerated, the noodles will turn slightly hard. They can be lightly heated on a nonstick frypan (with no oil) to soften them or microwaved. I prefer to heat over the pan as the microwave usually makes them a bit too soft!
Enjoy! Kongnamul japchae can be served as a side dish or enjoyed right on top of a bowl of rice! Either way, enjoy with some warm rice and kimchi. Delicious!
(hungry eyes waiting to taste test!)
Other Recipes from Soo-Mi’s Side Dishes: Korean Fried Tofu Gimbap, Myulchi Bokkeum (Korean Stir-fried Anchovies), Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Tofu Stew), Osam Bulgogi (Korean Spicy Stir-Fried Squid and Pork), Korean Spicy Braised Chicken, Spicy Pork Duruchigi, Braised Soybeans (Kongjaban), Seoul Bulgogi
Kongnamul Japchae (Korean Stir-Fried Soybean Sprout Glass Noodles) - Soo-mi's Side Dishes
- 2 ½ oz (70 g) sweet potato noodles dangmyeon 당
- 10 oz (300 g) soybean sprout 1 package
- ⅓ medium onion
- 1 cup oyster mushroom
- ½ carrot
- ½ cucumber
- 2 ½ oz (75 g) spinach (about 1/4 package)
- ½ Tbsp sesame oil
- Sprinkle sesame seeds
- 1 ¼ Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¾ tsp honey
- ½ Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- wasabi to taste
- Soak the glass noodles in water for about 30 minutes.
- Prep the soybean sprout. Some soybeans come prepped, others have a long root/tail. Snip off any messy end root parts. Rinse well in running water.*Optional: To make the dish a chewier texture, snip off the yellow heads.
- Prep other vegetables. Slice the onion. Pull the oyster mushrooms apart. Slice the carrots and cucumber long ways thinly. (Discard the middle seed strip in the cucumbers. They will bring out too much water into the dish).
- Blanch. Bring a medium pot of water with ½ Tbsp salt to a boil. Add in the soybean sprouts into the boiling water and turn them over a few times in the hot water. Remove the soybean sprouts. This should take less than 60 seconds. Take out the soybean sprouts and place into a strainer.*Don’t boil too long as you want the soybean sprouts to still have some texture and crunch. It will also be stir-fried again.
- Blanch again. Bring the water back to a boil in the same pot. Once boiling, add in the spinach for 60 seconds. Drain and place the spinach in cold water for about 5 minutes. Drain the water and squeeze out the excess water from the spinach.*Use your hands to just squeeze the spinach.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add in the soaked glass noodles and simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the noodles are soft.*Use new water.
- Japchae Sauce. In a small bowl, add in the sauce ingredients.
- Preheat a large frypan to medium-low heat with about 1-2 Tbsp oil. First, saute the carrots for about 45 seconds. Add in the onions and saute for another 30 seconds. And finally, add in the oyster mushrooms and continue to saute until the vegetables have softened. * Do not overcook, there should still be some crunch to the carrots.
- Add in the cooked noodles and stir. Add in the soybean sprouts and stir. Add in the spinach and stir again. Saute for about 30 seconds. Add in the japchae sauce and stir around the pan. Add in the sesame oil and sprinkle the sesame seeds. Mix around again.
- Finally, add in the cucumbers. Mix around the pan again for about 1 minute. Turn off the heat. The vegetables will be soft but still have some texture.
- Dipping Sauce. Mix all the soy sauce and vinegar into a small plate. Add a dab of wasabi, as you please. (I like to continue to add as I eat.)
- Serve! Plate the japchae on to a large plate. Dip a chopstick full of noodles into the dipping sauce and enjoy each bite!