Korean Stir-Fried Noodles (Jap Chae or Chap Chae)

Chapchae
Barry Wong/The Image Bank/Getty Images
  • 70 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings (18)

Korean stir-fried noodles (chap chae or jap chae) is one of the most popular noodle dishes in Korea, and also seems to be the one that Westerners like best. The foundation of the dish is Korean glass noodles, which can be made from mung bean or sweet potatoes

The glass noodles name stems from the fact that the noodles in chap chae become translucent when cooked. They look almost like little spirals of glass in the bowl. They may be sold labeled as cellophane noodles or Chinese vermicelli.

This dish works well as an appetizer or as the main dish at lunch or dinner. In addition, it can be served hot or cold, depending on the season and on your own personal preference. Plus, it's easy to make as a vegetarian dish.

Because mung bean or sweet potato noodles both absorb tons of flavor, you can mix and match the vegetables or meat to your liking.

What You'll Need

  • 8 ounces glass noodles
  • 1  sweet onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach, parboiled
  • 2  carrots, julienned
  • 3  scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Napa cabbage, chopped
  • 5  shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated if dried and then sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or ​olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional: sesame seeds

How to Make It

  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions.
  2. In a large pan or wok over medium heat, heat vegetable (or olive) oil and 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil.
  3. Add onion slices and garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the rest of vegetables and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are half-cooked and still a bit crispy.
  5. Turn the heat to low and add cooked noodles, meat (if using), soy sauce, sugar, and the remaining sesame oil.
  1. Mix to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.
  2. Add salt or more soy sauce if needed.
  3. If using sesame seeds, add them at the finish.

Variations

Thinly sliced brisket works well in this dish and Korean barbecued beef (bulgogi) is used often. In a pinch, chunks of rotisserie chicken, strips of egg, or fried tofu pieces are good protein additions.

Another favorite combination includes broccoli, red peppers, shiitake mushrooms, bulgogi, and onion. Feel free to mix and match the various possible ingredients to make a chap chae that's uniquely your own—that's one of the beauties of this dish.