Japchae: Noodles for a Crowd

japchae, jap chae
Korean Sweet Potato “Glass” Noodles

Spinach, Beef, Shiitake, Carrot, Cabbage, Onion
Sweet Garlicky Sesame Soy Sauce

sweet potato noodles, dangmyun
The following note was in my mailbox at work:

Lori Lynn – Please bring a COLD PASTA SALAD for the party on Thursday.

At our school, we have a festive monthly themed luncheon for the faculty and staff who are celebrating birthdays. This past month’s theme was football. With hot dogs and chili. And I was (happily) one of a handful of people asked to bring a dish. But I couldn’t bring myself to make the “cold pasta salad.” No farfalle. No rotini. No mayo.

I had a hankering to make japchae, Korean glass noodles with beef, vegetables, and a sweet garlicky sesame soy sauce – a perfect dish to feed a crowd. It’s transportable, economical, and one large bag of dangmyeon (glass noodles made from sweet potato starch) makes over 20 side-sized servings. And since it is often served at Korean celebrations, I thought it would make a great dish for our birthday party. It takes a little while to prepare because all the ingredients are cooked separately, but it is awfully easy.

On that Thursday morning I stir-fried veggies and beef, cooked the noodles, whisked together the sauces and had my dish in the teachers’ lounge by 11:15 AM, in time for the first lunch period.

Japchae Recipe

Stir-fry all the components (except spinach) separately in a small amount of sesame oil. Season with a small amount of salt and pepper.

  • Beef, ground
  • Shiitake, sliced
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Onion, sliced
  • Spinach (not baby)

Blanch spinach in salted water for one minute. Rinse to cool. Squeeze out excess moisture. Season with a small amount of sesame oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

After cooking the meat, drain off any fat. Combine beef with the cooked shiitake. Whisk the following ingredients together to make a seasoning sauce.

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 2 t. mirin

Toss the beef & shiitake with the sauce then re-heat.

Set the stir-fried vegetables aside and prepare the noodles. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 7 -8 minutes until tender or according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse briefly with cool water, drain well.

japchae noodles

Whisk the following ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved:

  • 1/2 c. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 T. sesame oil

Coat noodles with this sauce then toss in the warm meat and vegetables. Finish with a sprinkling sesame seeds. It’s best served warm, however  japchae is also very good at room temperature which is the way it was served at our football luncheon. I find that it is not as good when refrigerated or served cold.

japchae, jap chae
I like japchae with a ratio of lots of vegetables and beef to the noodles. It’s a popular portable dish to bring to any party or event,  it even goes with hot dogs!

japchae, jap chae

Try japchae, when you’re cooking for a crowd…

29 thoughts on “Japchae: Noodles for a Crowd”

  1. Oh wow, this is a stunning dish! I love glass noodles, and your ingredients and dressing sound wonderful.
    I am so in love with your photography 🙂

  2. Such a beautiful and tasty sounding dish.. your school has one lucky crowd! I have never cooked asian.. but those noodles sound delicious! Does the sweet potato starch actually lend sweet potato flavoring? Life is so busy these days.. I rarely get to reading blogs and commenting anymore.. but I ALWAYS love your posts Lori! Hope your well in S.P. Happy Holiday’s! xoxo

  3. don’t you just love those kinds of letters?? ha. But, you’re clearly a great employee when you go all out and offer a lovely and sophisticated dish… something they were probably not expecting. The sauce is beautiful.

  4. This is a gorgeous dish! Your co-workers should be honored to eat your cooking. I don’t eat beef, but I think I could make this with ground turkey or chicken and it would be just as good. Thank you!

  5. I’ve never tried these noodles before but I definitely will now. This salad is truly amazing and I love the complexity of the flavours. Economy is good too – feed a crowd – okee dokee by me.

  6. Why aren’t you in organizations I belong to? I get asked to bring salads all the time and try to be creative – but wow – I so want this. And will get ingredients tomorrow. Oh! Tomorrow’s dinner! Yay!

  7. Great looking dish… I am really in the mood for lighter things (she says as she makes more and more richer than the dickens dishes). I would almost say by CHristmas I am LONGING for them. Puting this on my list.

  8. I am a relative newcomer to the kitchen, and seem to have missed the part about how much of each of the ingredients to use. Is there a ratio you follow? I am also a vegetarian, and wonder whether ‘meat analogs’ might work in this, like seitan or TVP.

    1. Welcome Ray: Taste With The Eyes isn’t really a recipe blog with exact measurements, it’s more about cooking with inspiration from the photos. If you like carrots put more, if you don’t like onion, omit them. Balance the amount of veggies to the amount of noodles. As for the meat, just leave it out, as vegetarian japchae is equally delicious.

    2. Use sliced mushrooms. Shiitaki are lovely, but any will work well. I add black dried mushrooms, rehydrated, too – I like the crunch.

  9. Hey Lori…this is the best looking Jap chae I’ve seen in a while. Just leave those sesame seeds off and I’m good to go.

  10. I lived in Korea as a teacher and learned to enjoy much of the food. I’m glad the rest of the world is learning about it. Cold noodle of any kind does not tempt me, but make some DolSut BaBeemBap(sp) and I’m there.

  11. Your Japchae was so delicious! Thank you for posting this, and for the inspiration! Looking forward to trying it out at home. 🙂

  12. Looks delicious!!! I would like to give a tip though. Don’t rinse boiled glass noodles in cold water. This will help to keep the noodles more vivid and chewy. ^^

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