Japchae – Korean noodles | RecipeTin Eats

Japchae – Korean noodles | RecipeTin Eats

Japchae – the bright, colourful Korean noodle dish made with an abundance of vegetables, juicy bits of marinated beef and a sesame-forward dressing. Made with sweet potato noodles which have a unique slippery, chewy texture, this is sort of a stir fry, sort of a noodle salad, and 100% YUM!

Japchae – Korean noodles | RecipeTin Eats


Japchae is a famous Korean noodle dish that I describe as sort of a stir fry, sort of a salad. It’s a cross between the two in my mind because stir fried vegetables are tossed with noodles and sauce in a bowl rather than on the stove, and served barely warm.

You start by mixing the sauce in a giant bowl, then pile all the ingredients in one after the other – the noodles, a giant mound of cooked vegetables then lastly the seared marinated beef. Then finally, you give it a big toss to mix it all together in the bowl. This part is really satisfying, getting really stuck into it! (Just make sure you use a really big bowl else you’ll be cursing!).

Bowls of Japchae - Korean noodles

Ingredients in Japchae

Here’s what you need to make Japchae. I’ve broken it up into:

  1. Noodles and sauce

  2. Beef and marinade

  3. All the colourful veg!

The noodles & sauce

Here’s what you need for the noodles and sauce:

Japchae - Korean noodles ingredients

Some notes on some of the pictured ingredients:

  • Japchae noodles – The noodles used in Japchae are dried sweet potato noodles called dangmyeon. They are made from sweet potato starch and are almost transparent when cooked. It’s like the Korean version of glass noodles! The packets shown above are sold at large grocery stores in the Asian aisle, though you can get them cheaper at Asian stores.

    Substitute with glass noodles (ie the clear vermicelli noodles). And though Korean nationals may have my head for saying this, just quietly, you can totally make this recipe with any noodles. It will still be delicious!

  • Soy sauce – Either light or all purpose soy sauce. But not dark soy sauce – flavour is too strong and the colour is too intense! More on which soy sauce to use when here.

  • Sesame oil – toasted sesame oil is brown and has more flavour than untoasted (which is yellow). The default sesame oil sold in Australia is toasted, untoasted is harder to find.

Beef and marinade

We’re using beef short ribs in today’s recipe. Yes, it’s an unusual option for a stir fry – but I think you’ll be really impressed. It surprised me!

Japchae - Korean noodles ingredients
  • Beef (choices!) – Beef short rib is my favourite cut to use in Japchae. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just for slow cooking! When cut off the bone then thinly sliced, the beautifully marbled meat is juicy, tender and flavourful when cooked quickly on high heat – just 90 seconds. (If using beef short ribs whole, however, they must be slow cooked to break down the tough fibres. Try this, this, this or this recipe).

    It really is so much nicer to have the beef bits extra tender and juicy in a noodle dish that is not as saucy as your everyday Chinese Beef Stir Fry. So I really hope you give beef ribs a go! I honestly think it’s better than even pricier steaks like scotch / rib-eye.

    Other options – Scotch fillet/boneless rib eye is best, as it is the juiciest. If using other steak cuts like rump, porterhouse/t-bone, sirloin/strip etc (especially if economical), I recommend tenderising them before using in the recipe so the beef pieces are extra tender (directions in recipe card). Thin strips of beef are difficult to keep juicy as they overcook in a microsecond. As mentioned above, you can get away with that in saucy Beef Stir Fries. Not so much in noodle dishes.

  • Soy sauce – As above!


The vegetables shown below is a fairly common combination for Japchae, with a lovely contrast of colour, textures and flavour. But you can really use any stir-fry-able vegetables you want.

Japchae - Korean noodles ingredients

Just a note on a few of the vegetables:

  • Shiitake mushrooms – These are Asian mushrooms with a more intense mushroomy flavour than standard white mushrooms, brown/cremini mushrooms etc. However, if you can’t find them or they are a bit pricey, feel free to use ordinary mushrooms. They are, as you’d expect, better value in Asian stores.

  • Baby spinach – Substitute with chopped English spinach, the leafy part of Asian greens or even kale. *She ducks as Koreans start throwing rotten tomatoes at her*

How to make Japchae (semi-traditional way)

Traditional Japchae recipes call for each vegetable to be cooked individually to factor in the different cook times and preserve the flavour of each. Yes, it’s cumbersome (you count 6 vegetables above!).

But if you jumble them all up into one giant stir fry then the flavours do tend to bleed into each other a bit. So I’ve compromised and cooked the vegetables in 2 lots, bundling vegetables together by factoring in cook times and flavour “bleeding” to best replicate the same result where vegetables are cooked individually. Bonus: We use less oil.

I hope my slight short-cut method doesn’t offend Korean nationals! 😇

Cutting beef short ribs

As noted above, I really think the best beef for Japchae is beef short ribs – juiciest, best flavour. It’s typically sold on the bone (off the bone is not common here in Australia), so here is how to slice the meat.

If you are using a boneless steak instead, or boneless beef short ribs, then you obviously don’t need to cut the meat off the bone!

  1. Beef ribs – Not gonna lie. My step photo templates use even number of photos and I only had 5. So I stuck this in as a filler. “Beef short ribs. Ta da!”

  2. Trim excess fat – Beef ribs tend to have quite a generous layer of fat on them. So slice off the thick layers on the surface. Not all of it though! The fat is what keeps it juicy!

  3. Cut the meat off the bone simply by holding the beef rib upright then slicing the knife down against the bone. It’s easy – the bone is straight and flat.

  4. Cut in half horizontally to form 2 thin steaks so we can cut thin beef strips.

  5. Cut strips – Keep the halves stacked. Then cut into thin 0.5cm/ 1/5″ slices.

  6. Voila! Tasty beef strips. You are going to love how juicy these are!

Cooking Japchae

Making Japchae - Korean noodles
  1. Marinate beef ~20 minutes – Place the beef with the marinade ingredients into a bowl and toss to combine. Then just set aside while you prepare and cook everything else, so it ends up marinating for around 20 minutes. It doesn’t need to be marinated for long because the beef strips are so thin, though it wouldn’t hurt to leave overnight.

  2. Mix the sauce ingredients in a very big bowl. We are going to be tossing the whole batch of Japchae in this bowl so I really mean it when I say make it a big one!

  3. Cook the Japchae noodles per packet directions. Mine says 8 minutes in boiling water.

  4. Noodles on sauce – Drain, rinse briefly under tap water, shake off excess water well then place in the bowl with the sauce. Do not mix – just leave it there.

Making Japchae - Korean noodles
  1. Vegetables Batch 1 – Cook the onion, mushrooms and white part of green onions first, until the mushrooms just start to soft. Then transfer into the noodle bowl.

  2. Vegetables batch 2 – Next, cook the carrot and capsicum/bell pepper first, until they are just cooked but still have a soft bite to them. ie “tender crisp”. Soggy floppy overcooked vegetables is unacceptable! 😂 Then add the spinach and the green part of the green onions and toss for a minute just until the spinach is wilted. Then transfer into the noodle bowl.

  3. Cook beef – Lastly, cook the beef! Cook it on high heat just until you no longer see red – with a strong stove and good pan it should be barely 90 seconds. Hopefully in this time you’ll get a bit of browning in some patches too. Then add it into the bowl.

  4. Toss! Add the sesame seeds, and now it’s time to toss! You used a giant bowl right, like I said to right at the start?? If you didn’t, you’ll start to cry (or swear) right about now.

    Toss, toss, toss, until the sauce is evenly distributed. Check by looking at the colour of the noodles – the sauce stains the glassy noodles a brown colour.

    Then tumble it all into a bowl, finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and serve!

Picking up Japchae - Korean noodles

YUM. That sauce is everything! I really like that it’s not as sweet as the Japchae sauce you get at some Korean restaurants which I find a little too sweet.

This is a big batch recipe so it’s an excellent one for taking leftovers to work. It will keep for 3 days in the fridge. Just lightly warm it – or serve hot if you want. Though honestly, it’s also very good at room temperature too! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Freshly made Japchae - Korean noodles

Japchae – Korean Noodles


Tap or hover to scale

Recipe video above. Sort of a stir fry, sort of a noodle salad, this big, colourful Korean noodle dish is tossed together in a bowl rather than on the stove and served barely warm. Made with chewy, slippery sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon) which are available in large grocery stores, though can be substitute with glass noodles (bean thread noodles) or vermicelli noodles in a pinch.Makes a big batch – leftovers make for a terrific lunch!


Choose beef option (Note 1):

Noodles & vegetables:

  • 250g/ 8oz sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon), dried (Note 3)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil (or other plain oil)
  • 1 tsp cooking/kosher salt , divided
  • 1 onion , peeled, halved, sliced into 6mm/1/4″ wedges
  • 3 green onion stems , cut into 5cm / 2″ lengths, white & green parts separated
  • 200g/7oz fresh shiitake mushrooms , stem removed, cut into 5mm/1/5″ slices (Note 4)
  • 2 carrots , peeled, cut into 3mm / 1/8″ batons
  • 1 red capsicum/bell pepper , cut into 0.5cm / 1/5″ slices
  • 4 1/2 cups (tightly packed) baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds


Quick beef marinade:

  • Cut beef into strips that are ~ 5mm thick, 1cm wide and about 5cm long (1/5″ x 2/5″ x 2″). If using shortribs, trim excess fat, cut the meat off the bone. Then cut each piece in half lengthwise (to form 2 “steaks”) then slice into 5mm thick. (See step photos in post or video at 0.11s, Note 6)

  • Marinate – Put beef in a bowl. Add marinade ingredients, then mix. Set aside marinate while you proceed with recipe, ~15 – 20 minutes is all it needs. (Note 5)

Sauce and noodles:

  • Sauce – Mix the Sauce ingredients in a very large mixing bowl.

  • Noodles – Cook sweet potato noodles per packet directions (normally 8 min in boiling water). Drain, briefly rinse under tap water then shake off excess water well. Add noodles into the bowl with the dressing. DO NOT MIX.


  • Batch 1 – Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick pan (30cm/12″) over high heat. Cook the brown onion, white part of green onion and shiitake mushrooms with 1/2 tsp salt for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, just until starting to soften but not going golden. Pour on top of the noodles – don’t mix yet!

  • Batch 2 – Using the same pan still on high heat, heat 1 tbsp oil then cook the carrot and capsicum for 1 1/2 minutes, constantly stirring. Add spinach, green onion and the final 1/2 tsp salt. Keep cooking for 1 1/2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Transfer into the noodle bowl – still don’t mix!

  • Cook beef – In the same pan, heat the final 1 tbsp of oil still on high heat. Add beef and cook for 1 1/2 minutes until very lightly golden and just cooked through. Add to the noodle bowl. Don’t mix!

  • Mix! Add most of the sesame seeds (reserve some for topping). NOW you can mix! Toss, toss, toss.

  • Serve – Transfer into a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds. This is meant to be eaten warm, not piping hot. Eat!

Recipe Notes:

1. Beef quality matters here because the strips of beef are so thin they will overcook in a flash. 
Beef short ribs when sliced thinly is excellent for fast-cook stir frying – superior flavour, juicy and tender. Only needs to be slow cooked to “fall-apart-tender” when it’s served whole!
Next best option in my opinion is scotch fillet/boneless rib eye.
Other steak cuts – rump, porterhouse/t-bone, sirloin/strip etc will work but if using economical cuts, consider tenderising them before using in the recipe so they are soft and tender to eat using the Asian “velveting” technique – read about this here. To do this, slice per recipe, toss with 3/4 tsp baking soda (bi-carb), set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse in colander, pat dry, then marinate per recipe. 
2. Soy sauce – Use all purpose or a light soy sauce. Not dark soy sauce, colour and flavour is too intense.
3. Korean noodles that are sweet potato noodles called “dangmyeon” sold in dried form that looks a bit clear, like glass noodles. Sold in the Asian aisle of large grocery stores here in Australia, cheaper in Asian stores. Cooked by boiling – follow packet times.
Substitute with glass noodles (“bean thread noodles”) or vermicelli noodles. Or any other very thin noodles.
4. Shiitake mushrooms – Asian mushrooms with a more intense mushroomy flavour than standard white mushrooms, brown/cremini mushrooms (though feel free to sub!).
5. Marinating – No need to marinate overnight though you can.
6. Beef cutting – Aim for thin strips so you get plenty dispersed throughout the noodles.
7. Leftovers make great lunch! Keeps for 3 days in the fridge. Not suitable for freezing.
Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 504cal (25%)Carbohydrates: 58g (19%)Protein: 18g (36%)Fat: 24g (37%)Saturated Fat: 4g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 35mg (12%)Sodium: 1590mg (69%)Potassium: 1000mg (29%)Fiber: 6g (25%)Sugar: 9g (10%)Vitamin A: 10147IU (203%)Vitamin C: 51mg (62%)Calcium: 127mg (13%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Life of Dozer

I can feel him heavy breathing on my feet. 🙄 Also, don’t miss Dozer’s cameo in today’s recipe video – at 0:36!

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