Japchae (잡채)

Today is kind of a big deal for our family. After nearly two years of work, The Ancestral Table is finally in stores today! To celebrate, I thought it would be fitting to post my cookbook recipe for Japchae, which is a common party dish in Korea today.

Japchae has its origins in the 17th century; fittingly, it was first served at a party for the reigning king. Originally made with just vegetables and mushrooms, sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon, also called glass noodles) were introduced in the 20th century and are now an integral part of the dish.

Japchae (잡채)

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 20 mins plus 1 hr marinade
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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2 tsp wheat-free tamari (coconut aminos okay)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2″ ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 lb rib-eye or sirloin steak, sliced into strips
1 tbsp chicken broth
1 tsp honey
1/2 bunch (4oz) spinach or Chinese cabbage (kai-lan pictured above)
6oz sweet potato noodles, cut into 6″ lengths
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 carrot, julienned
3 shiitake mushrooms, fresh or reconstituted dry (soaked for 30 mins in warm water)
4 green onions, cut into 4″ pieces
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, divided

1. Mix the tamari, sesame oil, rice wine, white pepper, salt, garlic, and ginger, then combine half of the resulting sauce with the beef strips and marinate for 1 hour. Combine the other half of the sauce with the chicken broth and honey and set aside.

2. As the beef marinates, prep the other ingredients. In a stockpot, bring some water to a boil. Parboil the spinach for 30 seconds, then remove with tongs, rinse, and squeeze until mostly dry. In the same water, gently boil the sweet potato noodles for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water; they will start to harden, which is fine. Toss the noodles with a little sesame oil to prevent sticking, then set aside.

3. Warm the coconut oil in a wok on medium-high heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Add the beef and stir-fry until cooked through, about 3 minutes, then remove the beef and set aside. Add the carrot to the wok and stir-fry until slightly softened, about 1 minute, then add the noodles, spinach, mushrooms, green onions, beef, sauce, and half of the sesame seeds. Stir-fry until the sauce cooks down, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes. Season to taste, then sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds over the Japchae and serve.

Note that the picture above is a doubled recipe. Below is the cookbook picture:

One last quick word of thanks to everyone for your readership, enthusiasm, and encouragement. It’s been a wild ride, and I appreciate you joining me along the way. There is plenty more to come, promise.

63 thoughts on “Japchae (잡채)

  1. According to Google Translate, ä is spelled “jabchae”, and it means “Chop suey” or “Mixed dish of vegetables and beef” or “Japchae”. So, take your pick!!


    1. Deborah, you bring up a good point – the letters “P” and “B” are often switched in Korean (as well as “G” and “K”). One city I visited, Busan, was spelled “Pusan” just as often as not.


  2. Russ, congratulations!
    I’ve just discovered your blog via WordPress who published your from-blog-to-book interview. It was so touching. So much encouragement and thoughtful advice. I’ve never been into Paleo but I’m aware of it and I’d like to learn more.
    Wish you much success in what you are doing and keep the good work!
    All the best.


  3. Your cookbook looks amazing, and it came out on my birthday! Yay! My husband is half Korean, so trying to revamp certain recipes has not been fun. Just picked up sweet potato noodles last week and have been jonesing for some japchae. Thanks, and keep on keepin’ on!


  4. This recipe looks amazing! I live in a very small rural area and not sure I can find a couple of these ingredients. For example, the sweet potato noodles, have never seen them, can I sub. rice noodles? and if I use Shiitake’s they will most likely be canned. Hope it turns out ok!


  5. Congratulations on your book! Made this tonight and pour it over rice. I can’t find noodles in nearby grocery stores but your recipe is too tempting! It was very good. Beef is tender. Sauce is amazing. Great flavor with veggies and mushrooms. Can’t wait to get sweet potato noodles and make it again. Thank you!


    1. Hi Nicole, these sweet potato noodles in particular (“Dangmyeon”) are made with water and sweet potato starch, and are similar to dried ramen noodles. You could definitely try this dish with spiralized sweet potatoes, although you’d probably want to blanch them first. Hope that helps!


  6. I just whipped up this dish tonight with grass fed ground beef instead of flank steak because I don’t have time to marinade the meat. Instead I just poured on the marinade sauce and sautéed it in. It was absolutely delicious!! Going in thermoses for lunch tomorrow. Growing up as an Asian American I am always so happy to see Paleo blogs with their take on Asian cuisine. Still waiting for someone to make a successful dumpling skin!!! I’m off to purchase your cookbook! Thanks so much!


  7. I make this for all my babies when they turn 1! They love the loooong noodles (although, I always end up cutting them with scissors). I have recently transitioned to paleo and will definitely have to try yours out!

    Also, come down to Raleigh for a book signing! I’ve told all my friends about you and there’s a pretty big paleo community bc CrossFit is huge down here! I would love to have your signature in my brand new book!


    1. Cody, if you wanted to double the recipe, I suggest cooking this dish in two batches. If you tried to double the ingredients in a wok, it would overcrowd the wok and steam (vice stir-fry) the food and it would have a wet and mushy texture. So yes, in essence, you’d be doubling your cooking time, since you’d make the dish twice. It’s a fairly quick dish to put together so I think doing it in two batches wouldn’t be that much of a pain. Hope that helps!


  8. yaaay ! Just ate my first and wanted to find a recipe so I could recreate it at home. I kinda knew I would find one here ;)
    I wonder if I could use another protein than beef (not a fan of red meat in general) ? thanks !


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