Japchae – Vegan & GF Korean Glass Noodles

Japchae - Vegan & Gluten Free Korean Glass Noodles - Recipe from Enhance Your Palate

These Vegan Japchae Korean Glass Noodles recipe, makes a hearty meal option when combined with vegetables and tofu. Whipping them in Instant pot is quick and easy. These Japchae noodles are loaded with tons of flavors. Every bite of these luscious, and chewy texture noodles make you want to have more. You will instantly become a fan of this Japchae recipe, which takes very little effort to bring together.

Japchae - Vegan & Gluten Free Korean Glass Noodles - Recipe from Enhance Your Palate

I recently got an opportunity to try these noodles during an outing with some friends. Korean Glass Noodle are actually made with sweet potato starch, and I got so fascinated with the see-through glass like looks of these noodles. That, I decided to give it a try at home. Very quickly this Japchae recipe became our new family favorite.

Japchae - Vegan & Gluten Free Korean Glass Noodles - Recipe from Enhance Your Palate

What is Japchae?

Japchae is a sweet and savory Korean dish of stir-fried noodles and vegetables. It is important to note that the noodles used in this recipe are not just any flour or rice noodles. The noodles used in Japchae are made from sweet potato starch and are know as DANGMYEON. These noodles are more popular as Glass Noodles because upon cooking they become transparent, hence they got the name “Glass Noodles”.  

Japchae - Vegan & Gluten Free Korean Glass Noodles - Recipe from Enhance Your Palate

Using these noodles makes this recipe so different. The word Japchae actually translates directly as “Mixed Vegetables”. When it was first introduced around 17th century, it was actually a noodles-less dish.

mixed vegetables for Japchae

What are Sweet Potato Glass Noodles?

Very first time when I read the description of the dish on a menu saying sweet potato noodle, I was about to pass. Not a big fan of sweet potato noodles, which you make by spiralizing the sweet potato (that is what I actually imagined). Still, ordered one for myself and got super-duper confuse when the dish arrives.

Japchae - Vegan & Gluten Free Korean Glass Noodles - Recipe from Enhance Your Palate

Thinking how come these noodles are so luscious, clear and transparent? When I make them home, they are nowhere close to this texture and looks. The secret was hidden in the word “starch”. Quickly googled my confusion and got answer to my million questions which were running into my mind.   

Japchae beautifully served in a bowl

No doubt, these noodles are made from sweet potato but not by spiralizing it. Instead these are made with the sweet potato starch. Similar to tapioca pearls which are made from cassava starch.

What makes these Sweet Potato noodles so special?

As mentioned above, Sweet Potato noodles are made from the starch of sweet potato. These noodles come in u-shaped super long bundles. They appear stiff and grayish in their dried uncooked version. Once cooked they become transparent glass like see through noodles. Easy to fall in love with the looks as well as chewy and slippery texture. It’s a good idea to cut them into a small strand otherwise twirling them up to make a bite would be a never-ending job. However, kids have so much fun slurping never ending noodles! 

full length korean glass noodles
full length korean glass noodles being cut into smaller strands

Flavors of Japache

These sweet potato noodles absorb flavors from its sweet and savory sauce. Unlike pasta noodles where noodles get coated with the sauce these noodles absorb all the flavors and stay sauce free. The sauce gets its flavors from tamari or soy sauce, fermented chili paste, sesame oil.

Sauce ingredients for Japchae

The added brown sugar in the sauce balance out the heat from chili paste and chili flakes. As well as tone down the tang from the fermented chili paste and rice vinegar if used. I have skipped rice vinegar in this recipe, but feel free to add as per your liking. The quantity of each ingredient in the sauce can be easily modified to individuals liking and taste. If you prefer stronger flavor go for dark soy sauce and increase the quantity of fermented chili paste as well.

topping seasme oil with korean red chili flakes

Tips and trick to work around the recipe:

  1. To maintain the texture and crunch of the vegetables I have divided the cooking time into two part. If you are not much concerned about the texture of the vegetable, go ahead and add all the vegetables except greens with the noodles itself.
  2. To make it gluten free I have used low sodium Tamari. If gluten free is not a must have, then you can use soy sauce also.
  3. For stronger flavors use dark soy sauce.
  4. Not able to find korean chili fermented paste? Substitute half of its quantity with miso paste and half with any chili paste like samba oelek.
  5. In this recipe, I have used Korean chile flakes known as Gochugaru, which you can substitute with regular chili flakes.
  6. Sesame seeds can be added to the sauce if you want.
  7. Instead of adding ginger in the sautéing, minced ginger can be added to sauce. 
  8. For extra tang add 1 tbs rice vinegar in the sauce.
  9. Since we are adding so many sauces, please do not add any salt unless you taste it. If you add it initially there are chances the recipe gets too salty.
  10. Last but not least, water and noodles ratio. Add 8 fluid oz. or 1 cup of water for every 4 oz of noodles. In this recipe I have used 6 oz of noodles hence I have added 1.5 cup or 12 fluid oz of water. 
Japchae - Vegan & Gluten Free Korean Glass Noodles - Recipe from Enhance Your Palate