I’ve eaten japchae a couple times so I was excited to make it myself. This is a delicious Korean noodle and vegetable dish, similar to a stir fry. I think what distinguishes japchae is that it is made with glass noodles (made of sweet potato or mung bean starch), which give a great chewy texture. This recipe is from the cookbook Thug Kitchen 101.
When I was shopping for this recipe, I couldn’t find those noodles, so I used thin rice noodles which was a listed substitution. I knew it wouldn’t be the exact same or as authentic but I thought it would work in a similar enough way. After making this recipe with the rice noodles, I don’t think I would do it again – definitely try to find glass noodles.
The issue I had with using the rice noodles is that they obviously did not have the same chewy texture as glass noodles. As well, I think they expand more after being cooked so I had a mountain of noodles. My ratio of noodles to vegetables definitely looked higher than the picture in the cookbook. And because of this, the sauce was totally soaked up so I needed to add extra seasoning at the end to make up for this. One more thing was that I think I overcooked the noodles slightly because they were breaking up as I was mixing them with everything else.
Once I adjusted the seasoning to my taste, I quite enjoyed this. I guess it was more of just a stir fry with noodles instead of traditional japchae but it was a good meal.
I love how many vegetables were in this dish – carrot, pepper, onion, bok choy and zucchini (instead of mushrooms). It was so colourful and they gave lots of texture. This was quite a nutritious dinner and I had a lot of leftovers.
I would try this again, but I would for sure try harder to get the correct noodles. I think those would make a huge difference in this dish.