Thursday, November 14, 2013

Japchae (Chap Chae) once again Korean

I have had a love for Korean food since living next to Lee, a Korean war bride, in the 70's.  She taught me a lot about Korean food and we have loved it ever since.

I went to my Korean grocer, GiGi, again this week.  The previous week I had purchased a sweet potato noodle salad that she had made and I wanted to buy the noodles so that I could make this myself.  She told me exactly how to prepare the noodles, etc., but I needed something on paper to read to accomplish this feat.  After all, I have a whole lot of German in me.

I found a recipe for Japchae and it was exactly what I bought from GiGi.  I was missing a few ingredients in my kitchen and not wanting to make another trip to the grocer, I improvised and I am completely satisfied with the results.

The noodles, made from sweet potatoes, have been the most fun food for me to work with in a long time.  They are glassy, dare I say worm-like, and completely simple to prepare.

Japchae (Chap Chae)
Adapted from The Steamy Kitchen and The Korean Table

8 oz. sweet potato noodles
4 oz. spinach (No spinach in the house so substituted fresh cilantro)
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, sliced
3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water and then stem removed and sliced
1 small carrot, cut into thin strips
1 stalk scallion, cut into 1 inch slices
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
Salt to taste ( I used some fish sauce)
1 heaping teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds (Omitted because still have not replenished my pantry)
Sriracha to taste

4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Cook sweet potato noodles in a large pot of boiling water for about 5-6 minutes.  Drain the water and rinse the noodles under cold running water.  Cute the noodles using a pair of scissors into about 6 inch lengths.  Set aside.

Heat up a pot of water and bring it to a boil  Blanch the spinach until wilted, about 1 minute.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Cut into small pieces.  (I did not have spinach so added fresh cilantro from the garden at the end for greens.  Spinach would have been extra nice)

Heat up the oil in a skillet or wok and add the garlic, onion, mushroom, and carrot and cook for about two minutes.  Add the scallion and stir-fry for another minute.  Turn the heat to low and add the noodles and spinach into the skillet, followed by the sesame oil, the sauce and salt to taste.  Stir to combine well.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve at room temperature.  Add a few drops of Sriracha, just because we love it.

These sweet potato noodles can probably only be found in Asian markets. 


  1. How fun. I don't believe I've ever eaten Korean food. Love the sweet potato noodles, they are so pretty and new to me.

    I have enough German in me also (plus add that to blonde) and I would have written it down too :)

    Hope you & the Trout are enjoying the cool weather. It's gorgeous here today.

  2. This sounds delicious! I've had Korean food from time to time prepared by a friend. We have lots of Korean grocery stores around and I'll have to check them out.


  3. Korean food is really good. This is noodle dish is a really good introduction to the Korean food culture. Simple, fresh and available ingredients make it all happen.

    Thanks for sharing it!

  4. I'd not ever heard of sweet potato noodles; they sound most interesting. And,you got me excited with the substitution of cilantro in this recipe! ;) Love that stuff. blessings ~ tanna

  5. Good looking plate Susan. I want to try the glassy noodles sometime.

  6. I don't think I've ever made Korean and definitely not tried noodles. Looks delicious ... pinned to try later. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. I love the looks of this Susan. Will have to explore Korean cuisine. Lucky you having a friend to introduce you to it.

  8. This does sound delicious, Susan. So much flavor and not too heavy. This is the kind of meal I'll be looking for after our heavy Thanksgiving dinner next week. I don't think I have ever tried sweet potato noodles. There is a good Asian store nearby and I'm sure I can find them.

  9. Now I'll be on the hunt for some sweet potato noodles. This looks like the kind of dish I'd love for lunch over and over again. So beautiful and full of flavor. Hope you have a magnificent Thanksgiving, my friend!!!

  10. Susan this is a new one for me. Look forward to trying it the next time I hit the Asian food markets in Seattle. My favorite Korean dish is pa jun, the green onion pancakes, though I add kale and shrimp. Of course I do. ;-) Thanks for the lesson in Korean cooking and living the good life.

  11. Hi Susan! I hope you and The Trout had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    I don't make a lot of Korean food, but do like it. Sweet potato noodles? Marvelous! Looks like a doable dish with lots of flavors.
    I love recipes we've garnered from friends over the years. During the Air Force years, we were friends with a Chinese couple and oh my! The recipes she gave me. Still cook them often.