Jap Chae with Kimchi
It’s a stressful time of year, when warm comfort food recipes abound.
Jap Chae (Korean stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables) is the rare sort of comfort food that boasts a variety of vegetables.
The tasty noodle dish has a relatively healthy mix of textures, colors, and flavors. Usually made with a little stir-fried beef, jap chae is by no means a meat-centered recipe; this is an ensemble piece. (So you can leave out the protein altogether, or substitute chicken or tofu.)
The dangmyon glass noodles, made from sweet potatoes, are naturally gluten-free. And the vegetables, lightly sautéed in a little oil, remain crisp and fresh-tasting. Frying them individually lets you cook each ingredient for just the right amount of time– and allows the vegetables to keep their bright colors.
The last few times I’ve whipped up jap chae, I couldn’t help but toss in (or rather, fry up) one additional ingredient: kimchi.
I’ve sung the praises of sautéed kimchi before. Heat up a little kimchi in a skillet and some of the sharp pungency will fade away in favor of a slightly tangy, mellowed and mouth-watering bite.
Unfortunately, the day I took these photos, I did NOT use enough kimchi. I’m not sure what I was thinking! (That I would scare off kimchi skeptics from trying out my glorious version of the stir-fried noodles?) Never fear: I’ve remedied this in the recipe below.
The pan-fried kimchi wakes up the whole dish and imparts just a hint of spice to the other ingredients, which are otherwise seasoned simply, with soy sauce and sesame oil.
Don’t be scared off by the number of ingredients either; just because a recipe contains a few ounces each of five different vegetables, doesn’t mean it takes five times as long to make. The most time-consuming bit of prep-work here is probably matchstick-ing the single carrot (2 minutes?), and though you cook each vegetable on its own, none of them takes longer than 4-5 minutes (the onion).
The next time I make this, I might find myself reaching for an extra (plastic bag coated-)handful of kimchi– even beyond what this recipe calls for. In fact, the flavors all blend so well together, I may never make jap chae without kimchi again.
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Jap Chae with Kimchi
~ 1 whole bunch fresh spinach (4-6 oz.)
~ 8-12 oz. of dang myon (sweet potato glass noodles), available at most Asian markets
~ 2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce (for the noodles, plus another 2-3 Tbsp. for the chicken, or to taste) (Check to make sure the soy sauce is gluten-free; many brands aren’t.)
~ 1-1½ Tbsp. sesame oil (plus ½ tsp. for the spinach)
~ olive oil (a little at a time, for frying the vegetables)
~ ½ onion, cut into thin slices or wedges
~ 1 carrot, peeled and cut into match sticks
~ 5-8 shiitake mushrooms or ½ small package (4 oz.) of button mushrooms, sliced
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 12-16 oz. chicken breast, sliced in bite-size strips (or tofu, or beef)
~ 1 Tbsp. sugar
~ ½ tsp. black pepper
~ 3-4 scallions, sliced in 1″ pieces on the diagonal (green part only)
~ 8-12 oz. kimchi, roughly chopped (use plastic gloves or a ziploc over your hands while prepping)
~ salt, to taste
~ 2-3 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
~ red or yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
How to make it:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook the spinach a handful at a time– for only a few seconds– then pull out each small batch of spinach with a strainer. Repeat with the remaining handfuls of spinach. (This will allow you to use the same pot of boiling water for the spinach, then the noodles, without needing to boil water twice.)
2. Cook the dang myon noodles in the same pot of boiling water– for 5-6 minutes– then drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl. They’ll be very long and tangly; cut the noodles one or two times with a pair of scissors if necessary. Then add 2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce and 1- 1½ Tbsp. sesame oil to the noodles and mix well.
3. Squeeze out most of the water from the cooked spinach, cut the spinach with scissors if necessary, then season spinach with ½ tsp. sesame oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sesame seeds. Add the seasoned spinach to the noodles.
4. Cook the other vegetables one at a time, before removing each cooked vegetable and adding each one to the bowl of noodles in turn. Start by heating up 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a very large skillet over medium heat, and cook the onions for 4-5 minutes (until softened and sweet). Then remove the onions– add more olive oil if necessary– and cook the carrots for 2 minutes. Bell pepper will take 3-4 minutes; and mushrooms will take 3-4 minutes. (Don’t add too much new oil just before the mushrooms; they’d simply absorb it all, but they don’t actually need that much.)
5. Add a touch more olive oil, then cook the garlic for 10 seconds, and fry the tofu (1-2 min. per side) or the chicken or beef (until cooked through) along with 2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and ½ tsp. ground black pepper. When the protein is done cooking, toss in the scallions for another 10 seconds. Then use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu/chicken/beef and scallions to the bowl of noodles, leaving any extra juices behind.
6. Last, cook the kimchi in the skillet for 2-3 minutes (add a touch more oil if necessary), then return everything from the noodle bowl into the pan and cook 2-3 min., stir-frying all of the ingredients together with the noodles (add a dash more soy sauce if needed).
Transfer back to the large bowl or to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and season with a bit of salt to taste right before serving.
Note: A very large skillet is ideal for this recipe, since you re-heat/stir-fry all of the ingredients– including the noodles– together at the end, but if you can’t fit the noodles in your skillet too, then you could cook each of the other ingredients first, and boil the noodles last. In that case, you can re-heat all of the cooked vegetables/protein together in the skillet while boiling the noodles, then drain and rinse the noodles, transfer them to a bowl, season with soy sauce and sesame oil, then add the other warmed ingredients to the just-cooked noodles.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
Related recipe posts:
> Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeumbap)
> Easy Korean Broiled Bulgogi Chicken
> Pad See-Ew (Thai Noodles with Chicken and Broccoli)