First, let me share why I love this dish. Japchae tastes good warm or cold, and it keeps well in the fridge. It’s perfect for a make-ahead meal and lunch boxes. Practical reasons, but important ones.
Jap-chae literally means “mixed veggies.” It’s a popular dish at Korean parties and potlucks, and considering the traditional cooking method, it deserves to be a celebration dish. Various julienned vegetables are stir-fried separately to maintain their vibrant colors. Then they are gently tossed with seasoned glass noodles to create a colorful and elegant dish.
Of course, we can simply stir fry the vegetables all together in one pan, but even then, multiple ingredients need to be washed|prepared, cut, seasoned and cooked. So instead of just cooking Japchae, I thought of it as a weekend meal prep. Why not just cook for the whole week?
Making Japchae = Weekend Meal Prep
Getting to work… (You can skip to the recipe at the bottom of the post.)
When cooking a lot of veggies, it’s much easier to let the oven do the work instead of me hovering over the stove. On top of that, don’t you think roasted veggies taste better than sauteed veggies? So I started by roasting all the carrots and bell peppers I had at the moment.
Click here to see how I roasted the veggies.
While veggies are roasting, make the sauce. To make life easier, I made one sauce and used it for seasoning the noodles, mushrooms, and tempeh. (You can also use the sauce to marinate pork or beef meat instead of tempeh.) I like to use maple syrup instead of sugar, and that gives a slightly different taste from traditional Japchae.
low sodium soy sauce + maple syrup + sesame oil + minced garlic + minced ginger
(ratio 4 : 2 : 2 : 1 : 0.3)
Mushrooms & Tempeh
Place sliced mushrooms and the sauce in a clean plastic bag and shake until the sauce is evenly coated on the mushrooms. Let it sit on the counter and marinate for 20 minutes. Do the same with tempeh, but before marinating, simmer tempeh in water for 10 minutes to remove any bitter taste. (I used ready-to-eat tempeh.)
Once marinated, cook the mushrooms and tempeh in an oiled pan. Set aside.
Spinach and Onion
I micro-chopped spinach and onion to mix them with the noodles. It’s a backup for cases when the toddler refuses to eat anything but the noodles. At least some spinach and onion will cling to the noodles, you know. 😉
Saute onion in oil until browning. Mix in spinach and cook for another minute. Set aside.
I used Korean vermicelli made with 100% sweet potato starch, but I think any type of vermicelli would work. Just follow the package direction (minus a couple minutes) for cooking. Drain water, add the sauce and cook for additional couple minutes.
After cooking, mix in cooked onion and spinach.
The conventional way is to toss everything together, but munchkin would separate all ingredients again with her tiny fingers. So I just serve everything separately now.
Click here to see what else I made with Japchae ingredients!
Products that are featured here:
U Konserve lunch container.
Constructive Eating Garden Utensils
Bobo&Boo Bamboo Kids Plates
(If you buy from these links, it won’t cost you a penny more, but I’ll get a small compensation. 😙)
Japchae (Korean Stir-Fried Glass noodles), My Way
This is how I make Japchae as a part of weekend meal prep. This recipe is dairy-free, vegan, nut-free, and gluten-free (use tamari instead of soy sauce) friendly.
- 4 carrots thinly sliced and roasted
- 4 bell peppers thinly sliced and roasted
- 16 oz oyster mushrooms sliced
- 16 oz ready-to-eat tempeh cut
- 1 onion micro-chopped
- 3 cups spinach micro-chopped
- 8 oz vermicelli
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 2 tbsp garlic minced
- 2 tsp ginger
- cooking oil
See below recipe for roasting carrots and bell peppers.
Make the sauce by mixing soy sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.
Place cut tempeh in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the water.
Place simmered tempeh and 1/4 cup of sauce in a clean plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake to evenly coat the sauce on the tempeh. Let it sit on the counter to marinate.
Place sliced mushrooms and 1/4 cup of sauce in a clean plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake to evenly coat the sauce on the mushrooms. Let it sit on the counter to marinate.
Bring a large pot of water to boil (to cook vermicelli.)
Meanwhile, heat a couple of tbsp of oil in a pan. Add chopped onion and cook until it turns brown. Add chopped spinach and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cook vermicelli following package direction minus a couple minutes. Drain the water. Add remaining sauce to the pot with vermicelli, and cook for additional couple minutes while continuously stirring. Remove from heat and mix in spinach and onion.
Heat a couple of tbsp of oil in a pan and cook marinated mushrooms. Do the same with tempeh until it turns brown on the edge.
Toss your desired amount of carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, tempeh, and noodles together and serve. Store remaining ingredients in separate containers for later.
You can add a tbsp of sesame oil and a tbsp of soy sauce to vermicelli cooking water. Noodles are less sticky this way.
Roasted Carrots|Bell Peppers
- as much as you want carrots
- as much as you want bell peppers
Preheat the oven to 475F.
Make sure the carrots|bell peppers are dry. Cut the carrots|bell peppers into thin strips.
Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle a pinch of salt. Toss to coat.
Spread out the carrots|peppers on a baking sheet trying not to overlap the pieces as best as you can.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Toss and spread the carrots|peppers with a spatula.
Bake for additional 5-10 minutes depending on your oven.