Spicy Vegan Japchae Recipe

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This spicy vegan japchae (made with sweet potato glass noodles) is my favorite noodle dish of all time. Bold words, I know, but all the more reason to give it a try! This flavorful, spicy rendition of traditional Korean japchae is savory, sweet, with just the right amount of heat.

spicy vegan japchae with sweet potato glass noodles

Japchae (잡채), which translates to “mixed vegetables”, is a Korean noodle dish consisting of just that! It’s made with dangmyeon, (aka sweet potato glass noodles) as well as stir-fried veggies and a sweet & savory sauce.

Traditionally, Japchae is served on special occasions and holidays but it can also be enjoyed as an everyday meal. This spicy vegan japchae is great because it can be served as a side dish or as the main event! This recipe yields 8 servings so I recommend making it for any kind of gathering, but sometimes I’ll make it just to meal prep for myself!

If you’re interested in exploring more vegan Korean dishes, you’ve got to try this kimchi fried rice and this Korean cucumber salad.

I recommend serving this spicy vegan japchae (and all of the above) with homemade kimchi to really take the experience to the next level!

🥄 Why This Recipe Works

  • While this japchae recipe is vegan, japchae is often made with beef bulgogi, so if you’d like to add in some protein, go for it!
  • Dangmyeon noodles, or Korean sweet potato glass noodles, are made using sweet potato starch, water, and salt which makes this recipe completely gluten-free (so long as you also use gluten-free soy sauce!)
  • You can use as little or as much of each vegetable as you want! Feel free to adjust the ratio of each veggie to your personal preference.
  • These noodles are great for meal prepping and can be served hot or cold.

🛒 What You Need To Make Spicy Vegan Japchae

spicy vegan japchae ingredients

Sauce Ingredients

spicy vegan japchae sauce ingredients

📝 Recipe Modifications And Substitutions

  • Dangmyeon noodles: I strongly recommend sticking with these sweet potato glass noodles, but you could also use cellophane noodles.
  • Cabbage: I used savoy cabbage, but you can also use napa cabbage or really any variety. In many variations spinach is actually used in lieu of cabbage, so you can do that if you don’t like cabbage (just don’t forget to blanche the spinach!)
  • Onion: I recommend using yellow (sweet) onions and green onions, but you can use whichever kind you want.
  • Mushrooms: I prefer shiitake, but you can really use any kind of mushrooms. Alternatively, you can leave them out if you’re not a fan.
  • Veggies: I recommend carrots and red bell pepper, but you can omit or substitute these as you see fit.
  • Sesame oil: A lot of people don’t know this, but there are two kinds of sesame oil: un-toasted and toasted. We want the toasted kind. If you’re unsure what kind you have, take a look at the color. If it’s light and golden it’s probably un-toasted, and if it’s dark and brown it’s probably toasted.
  • Sugar: Brown sugar works just as well.
  • Garlic: I used bottled minced garlic, but fresh garlic is always encouraged!
  • Gochujang: This Korean chili paste is what makes this dish spicy. If you want you can start with half the recommended amount and then taste the sauce to see if you want it hotter before adding the rest.

*See above images or recipe card for full list of ingredients

🥣 What Equipment Do I Need?

Here are a few items I recommend:

🥢 How To Make This Recipe

Step 1: Julienne your carrots and bell pepper, then chop your cabbage, mushrooms, green onions, and yellow onions. Set the vegetables aside for now, but do not combine them as we will be stir-frying them individually later.

Step 2: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add in your dangmyeon noodles and cook for 12 minutes or until noodles are soft (these shouldn’t be al dente). When the noodles are done cooking, rinse them under cold water to cool them off and stop them from cooking further. When they’re cooled off, move them to a large mixing bowl.

Pro Tip: These noodles are loooong. Don’t worry if they don’t fully fit in the pot at first. Once they start cooking the exposed part willl slip under the surface of the water.

Step 3: Combine soy sauce, gochujang paste, toasted sesame seed oil, minced garlic, sugar, sesame seeds, and black pepper in a bowl and mix until consistent. Drizzle 6 tbsp of sauce over the noodles, then use your hands to evenly mix it in.

Step 4: Using kitchen scissors, cut your noodles so that they are shorter and easier to grab/eat. Transfer them to a pan along with 1 tbsp of a neutral oil and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes or until noodles start to become a little sticky.

Step 5: Transfer noodles back to the bowl and then begin sauteeing each of your vegetables individually, adding more oil if necessary. Sautee the mushrooms last, drizzling 2 tablespoons of sauce onto them as they cook. This will help them absorb more of the flavor of the sauce.

Pro Tip: Cooking the vegetables separately will allow them to maintain their own flavor and color, and it will also ensure that they keep the right texture as some vegetables may take longer to cook than others.

Step 6: After your veggies are all sauteed, add them to the bowl of noodles. Add in the remaining sauce and use your hands to mix all ingredients thoroughly.

And just like that your spicy vegan japchae is ready to eat! Serve while hot, or refrigerate and serve cold. These noodles work both ways!

close up of spicy vegan japchae in chopsticks

🍜 Serving Suggestions

  • Sometimes I like to enjoy these noodles hot, sometimes cold. I recommend trying them both ways!
  • This spicy vegan japchae can be served as a side dish or as a main.
  • Sometimes japchae is served over a bed of white rice. Give it a try!
  • Traditional japchae is often served with beef, pork, seafood, or egg. For all my vegans out there you can use pan-fried tofu or your favorite meat substitute instead.
  • Don’t forget to serve it with a side of kimchi!

🤷🏻‍♀️ Recipe FAQs

What is japchae sauce made of?

Japchae sauce is a sweet and savory sauce typically made of soy sauce, sugar (or honey), sesame oil, garlic, black pepper, and sesame seeds.

Are glass noodles made from sweet potatoes?

While Korean glass noodles (dangmyeon) are made from sweet potato starch, most glass noodles are made from mung bean or peas and corn starch.

How do I spice up my japchae?

Japchae is typically a sweet and savory dish, but you can spice it up using gochujang (Korean chili paste), gochugaru (chili powder), or spicy kimchi.

Does japchae have gluten?

Japchae is made from sweet potato glass noodles called dangmyeon, which are completely gluten-free! However, japchae is made with soy sauce which can sometimes contain gluten. If you’re trying to make gluten-free japchae, just make sure you use gluten-free soy sauce and you’re good to go!

spicy vegan japchae in bowl with chopsticks

👩🏻‍🍳 Pro Tips

  • Dangmyeon noodles should be really soft and almost gelatinous. You don’t want these noodles to be al dente, so make sure they’re soft enough before taking them off the stove.
  • If you like your food a little spicier you can add in extra gochujang paste. However, this may make your sauce’s texture a little grainy, in which case you can add in a little water to thin it out.
  • These noodles should last in the fridge for at least a week when kept in an airtight container.
  • If the noodles start to become a little starchy after being refrigerated, you can warm them in the microwave and then stir thoroughly to return them to their original texture.

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments section further down the page. 

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📖 Recipe

spicy vegan chapchae with kimchi on the side

Spicy Vegan Japchae Recipe

These vegan stir-fried Korean glass noodles are sweet, savory, and just the right amount of spicy!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Korean
Servings 8 servings
Calories 382 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 savoy cabbage
  • 6 oz shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 14 oz dangmyeon noodles
  • 2 tbsp oil for stir-frying

Sauce

  • 7 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp gochujang
  • 4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 4 tsp minced garlic
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Julienne your carrots and bell pepper, then chop your cabbage, mushrooms, green onions, and yellow onions. Set the vegetables aside for now, but do not combine them as we will be stir-frying them individually later.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add in your dangmyeon noodles and cook for 12 minutes or until noodles are soft (these shouldn’t be al dente). When the noodles are done cooking, rinse them under cold water to cool them off and stop them from cooking further. When they’re cooled off, move them to a large mixing bowl.
  • Combine soy sauce, gochujang paste, toasted sesame seed oil, minced garlic, sugar, sesame seeds, and black pepper in a bowl and mix until consistent. Drizzle 6 tbsp of sauce over the noodles, then use your hands to evenly mix it in.
  • Using kitchen scissors, cut your noodles so that they are shorter and easier to grab/eat. Transfer them to a pan along with 1 tbsp of a neutral oil and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes or until noodles start to become a little sticky.
  • Transfer noodles back to the bowl and then begin sauteeing each of your vegetables individually, adding more oil if necessary. Sautee the mushrooms last, drizzling 2 tablespoons of sauce onto them as they cook. This will help them absorb more of the flavor of the sauce. 
  • After your veggies are all sauteed, add them to the bowl of noodles. Add in the remaining sauce and use your hands to mix all ingredients thoroughly.
  • And just like that your spicy vegan japchae is ready to eat! Serve while hot, or refrigerate and serve cold. These noodles work both ways!

Notes

  • These noodles are loooong. Don’t worry if they don’t fully fit in the pot at first. Once they start cooking the exposed part willl slip under the surface of the water.
  • Dangmyeon noodles should be really soft and almost gelatinous. You don’t want these noodles to be al dente, so make sure they’re soft enough before taking them off the stove.
  • Cooking the vegetables separately will allow them to maintain their own flavor and color, and it will also insure that they keep the right texture as some vegetables may take longer to cook than others.
  • If you like your food a little spicier you can add in extra gochujang paste. However, this may make your sauce’s texture a little grainy, in which case you can add in a little water to thin it out.
  • These noodles should last in the fridge for at least a week when kept in an airtight container.
  • If the noodles start to become a little starchy after being refrigerated, you can warm them in the microwave and then stir thoroughly to return them to their original texture.

Nutrition

Calories: 382kcalCarbohydrates: 67gProtein: 5gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 932mgPotassium: 519mgFiber: 6gSugar: 15g
Keyword japchae vegan, sweet potato glass noodles, vegan japchae, vegan japchae recipe
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10 Comments

  1. Even though I’m a picky eater, I’d actually love to try this! Do the noodles take on the flavor of sweet potatoes at all? Or are they pretty bland because they’re just made of starch? I’ve never had dangmyeon noodles before, but they’ve always caught my eye at the grocery store because they‘re clear and they look cool!

    1. I think you’d like it! You could even add some chicken bulgogi, which I think you’d dig. The potatoes don’t really have much flavor by themselves, but I still think they’re the best noodles ever haha the texture is perfect

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