Jap chae (or chap chae) is a flavourful Korean glass noodle dish that can be served as a side dish or as a main course. [Note that Korean glass noodles are made with sweet potato starch and are thicker than Chinese cellophane noodles, so be sure to check the ingredients so you don’t purchase the wrong ones.] Enjoy this noodle dish warm or at room temperature (but not cold).
The flavour and ingredients of chap chae vary slightly depending on the restaurant or home, so feel free to use whatever vegetables or protein you like (ie. spinach and peppers) and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Although many people add thinly sliced beef to their jap chae, I prefer this as a vegetarian/vegan dish. Also, this is the perfect make-ahead dish for entertaining, bbqs, or pot lucks, because it tastes better over the next day or two.
Korean Chap Chae (Jap Chae) Recipe
makes 4 to 6 large servings
12 ounces (340 g) dried Korean style starch noodles (made with sweet potato starch), also known as Korean glass noodles
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp granulated white sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rice wine (mirin or shaoxing rice wine)
1 tbsp rice vinegar (optional)
5 or 6 tbsp toasted sesame oil (brand Kadoya)
sea salt to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
2 cups of lightly packed, very finely julienned carrot
1 small onion, finely sliced lengthwise
1 bunch of green onions, dark and light green parts cut into 2 inch long pieces
4 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced (or 5 large dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced thinly)
In a large heat proof bowl, completely cover the noodles with boiling water. Stir periodically and allow the noodles to soften until they reach the desired texture, between 10 and 20 minutes. Try to time it so that you are ready to use the noodles as soon as they have reached the desired texture. They should be soft and slightly chewy. Drain well. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sugar, honey, rice wine, sesame oil, and rice vinegar (if using), and set aside. Heat a large non stick pan over medium high heat and lightly coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, shiitake mushrooms, carrot, and garlic. Stir fry constantly until the mushrooms are heated through and the onion and carrot are tender but still crisp, 1 to 3 minutes. If your onions are browning, turn the heat down to medium. Then add the green onions and stir until they are wilted and tender, 30 to 60 seconds. Then add the sauce. Once the sauce is heated through, add the well drained noodles and stir constantly until the noodles are heated through and evenly coloured by the sauce. You will have to best results if you can time it so that your noodles will go straight into the pan as soon as they are ready and drained so that they are still hot and not sticking together. Taste test some noodles, add salt and adjust the other seasonings to taste. Keep in mind that the flavours will be more prominent if the noodles are served at room temperature or a day or two later. Dish out and serve hot or serve it once it has cooled to room temperature. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator but do not serve these noodles cold; they will have an unpleasant texture. Reheat leftovers in a non stick pan or microwave and then serve them hot or at room temperature. Note that the noodles will taste even better the next day.