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One of my all-time favorite Korean dishes is Japchae. Have you heard of it? It’s sweet potato noodles with stir-fried vegetables and usually beef. There’s no one way to make this. Every restaurant, mom, or I make it differently every time.
The beauty of Japchae is that the main ingredients are sweet potato noodles and its sauce (a mix of sesame oil, sugar, and soy sauce). The rest can be changed to your liking and better yet be used with leftovers lying around.
I don’t remember the first time I had this– whether it was at a Korean restaurant or when I begged my mom to make it. But ever since my mom made it for dinner for the first time based on Maangchi’s recipe, she’s cooked it often (and she never measures!). It’s always been a hit.
When I moved out, I finally decided to make this dish on my own and saw how much prep work there was! I mean, as a beginner cook, chopping all those vegetables take me at least an hour. And they’re neither pretty or the same size.
The traditional way of cooking Japchae is to prepare the beef and each type of vegetable separately so that the flavors don’t mix. But honestly, that’s too much work for beginner me or you. By cooking the vegetables altogether and only cooking the beef separately, I found that the flavor is still there.
On top of that, using frozen stir-fry vegetables cuts the prep time almost completely. And the number of ingredients, if you count that. After I switched to frozen, I never went back and made this more and more. It’s such an easy dish and its ingredients have a long storage life! So many times I’ve added this to my meal plan because it was so simple and required ingredients I already had.
Want to make this recipe yourself?
Simple, easy Korean sweet potato noodles with stir-fried meat & vegetables called Japchae. Inspired by Maangchi's Japchae (see link in notes).
- 3 servings sweet potato noodles
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp + 2 1/2 tsp soy sauce
- 1/3 cup meat of choice*
- 2 garlic cloves, minced and/or garlic powder
- 1.5 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg (sunny side up / over easy)
- dash of toasted sesame seeds
In a medium-sized pot, boil water and then add sweet potato noodles. When it turns soft and easy to chew, it's ready. Strain and set it in a medium-sized bowl. Cut them with kitchen scissors so they aren't too long. Add sesame oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Set aside.
If using frozen vegetables, heat them in a small bowl with a little bit of water in the microwave and then drain. This helps it warm up faster in the center.
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, add some sesame oil and then the meat of choice. Season with salt and pepper. Add minced garlic or garlic powder. Once it's fully cooked, add frozen vegetables and add more seasoning if necessary. Since the vegetables are already cooked, you're simply trying to heat it up & stir-fry it for a short time. Add to bowl with noodles when done.
In the bowl with noodles, sauce, meat, and vegetables, mix together.* Plate and add sesame seeds.
In a separate pan, cook an egg. This step should be last or will get cold. When done, serve with noodles.
*The most commonly used meat is beef.
**If you need more sauce, start by adding sugar and soy sauce by 1/2 tablespoon then taste. Add sesame oil if necessary. I found that when testing this recipe that I didn't have to adjust for sesame oil but only sugar/soy sauce. This varies for everyone though.
***Inspired by Maangchi's recipe
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