Recipe Review: Japchae (잡채)

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Japchae

Japchae is one of my (and many other people’s from around the world) favourite Korean dishes. Essentially it is sweet potato starch noodles stir-fried with vegetables. On the various occasions I have had it, I either have that as a dish, or have it with rice too.

And if you would like to try cooking Korean food yourself, a particularly good website to start with is maangchi.com. It has an amazing array of recipes, and because it is in English it is perfect for those of us who can’t speak / read Korean. I’ve known about the site for a long time (literally everyone I knew raved about it) but haven’t tried any recipes from them, so after a lack-luster rendition of the Japchae recipe from another recipe website I normally love. I decided to try maangchi’s recipe for Japchae.

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I followed the recipe as it is, with the exception of adding the egg, and it came out absolutely perfect. No changes to the recipe required – perfect balance of salty and sweet taste.

It will feel like a fair bit of work with all the prep work, but once that is done, the cooking itself took minimal time. Well worth the effort. The noodles can be served warm or cold!

A few things to note:

  • Invest in a mandolin slicer. This recipe requires julienne carrots and because I didn’t have one I found that task fairly time consuming (and hated myself for not getting one on the few occasions that actually called for a mandolin slicer).
  • My local grocery store / supermarket sells stir-fry beef pre-cut into strips, and to be honest if I didn’t have to julienne carrots by hand I would buy a proper piece of beef and cut it into strips myself. That way the beef strips would be thinner and the marinate sauce would be better absorbed into the beef.
  • The ingredients are fairly simple and easily sourced. The only ‘specialty’ items are Shiitake mushrooms, sesame seeds (which is something I don’t usually have lying around in the pantry), and the dangmyeon. Maangchi did a post on dangmyeon here, and I have tried both brands from the last picture on their page. Both worked well for me.
  • Maangchi’s recipe had a certain order to stir-fry the ingredients, but other than starting with the spinach, noodles and ending with the beef, the order of the vegetables being cooked in the middle probably don’t matter.
  • The recipe called for mixing all the cooked ingredients by hand – but to be honest I found it too hot to handle, so I used a tong to do it.
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