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This 30-minute Vegan Japchae is a healthy, meatless version of the popular Korean glass noodles stir fry. My vegan, gluten-free version has all the traditional flavors from shiitake mushrooms, spinach, scallions, and onions, with an easy homemade japchae sauce. An authentic, quick & easy meal for weeknight dinners or to share with friends!
What is Japchae?
Korean japchae (잡채) is a stir-fry dish made with glass noodles. Japchae translates to “mixed vegetables” because of the way it is prepared. It’s stir-fried Korean sweet potato starch noodles (glass noodles) with a distinct soy/sesame oil sauce and lots of veggies. It’s a very casual dish enjoyed around the holidays.
What Makes This Recipe Great
This traditional Korean noodle dish is typically loaded with veggies, pork, and glass noodles, and topped with an egg. The sauce is a sweet and savory sesame oil sauce that gives the recipe so much flavor.
My healthy spin turns this classic Korean glass noodles recipe into Vegan Japchae with just a few simple swaps and no loss in flavor!
This meatless, healthier version is just as tasty but completely vegan and vegetarian. It’s a beautiful dish that is perfect for large crowds and celebrations.
What are Korean Glass Noodles?
Korean glass noodles or sweet potato starch noodles have a very unique texture. They are packaged dry and become very springy and soft once cooked. Made with sweet potato starch, glass noodles are naturally gluten-free and essential to making any kind of japchae!
You can easily find Korean glass noodles at any Korean grocery store, or Asian grocery store. You can also find it online if you don’t have access to an Asian market.
The Ultimate Celebration Food!
Japchae is commonly enjoyed around the Lunar New Year as glass noodles symbolize a long life. However, it’s common to find japchae at celebrations and gatherings like birthdays and family dinners too.
Growing up, japchae was always prepared in large quantities and I suspect it’s a great go-to party food because it’s really easy to make!
Alongside japchae, you’ll often find kimchi, pajeon (or Korean pancakes), bulgogi, kimbap, and all kinds of ban chan, or side dishes. There’s usually quite a lot going on at the Korean dinner table!
Making this Vegan Japchae is much easier than you might think. Traditionally all of the vegetable ingredients are sautéed individually and tossed with the glass noodles to combine. Here are some of the traditional japchae ingredients we’ll be using:
Japchae Noodles: Also called sweet potato starch noodles and Korean glass noodles. You can find them in most Asian markets or online.
Veggies: Carrot, sweet onion, shiitake mushrooms, and spinach.
Egg Substitute: I like to use vegan JUST “egg” for this recipe, optional.
Garnish: Use sesame seeds and scallions to garnish.
Gluten-Free Soy Sauce: I like the brand Tamari for gluten-free soy sauce.
Sesame Oil: I like this brand and use it for all of my recipes that call for sesame oil.
Garlic: Use freshly minced garlic or a jar of minced garlic.
Salt and Pepper: Use to taste.
See the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients.
- Prepare Your Vegetables. Finely julienne and chop your vegetables.
- Make the Japchae Sauce. Prepare your japchae sauce by whisking ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Cook the Glass Noodles. Bring water to a boil in a large pot and cook your japchae noodles until soft and translucent, about 6-7 minutes. They should be almost slippery in texture. Rinse with cool water and drain, cut with scissors, and mix in 1 tbsp of your sauce and let sit.
- Choose your method below to finish the japchae.
- Sauté all of your veggies individually, with oil and a touch of salt and pepper.
- Add each ingredient to the pan, sauté lightly (you want to maintain the crunch, so don’t overcook) then add into a large mixing bowl.
- Sauté your noodles for a few minutes as well and add to the vegetable bowl.
- Blanch and pat dry your spinach, add to the bowl and mix well to combine.
- Start by sautéing carrots, then add onion, mushrooms, and scallions to the pan.
- Add spinach at the very end and cook very lightly.
- Then, toss in your noodles along with the remaining sauce and sauté until combined.
- Garnish the vegan japchae with sliced vegan egg, if using, sliced scallion, and sesame seeds to top.
Glass Noodles: You can easily find Korean glass noodles at any Korean grocery store, or Asian grocery store. You can also find it online if you don’t have access to an Asian market.
Serving: Serve stir-fried Korean glass noodles warm or at room temperature.
Large Groups: If you’re feeding a large group of people, this vegan japchae is perfect for sharing. Simply double or triple the recipe and follow the same instructions.
Yes! In fact, this vegan japchae is also entirely gluten-free because I use Tamari instead of regular soy sauce (which is not gluten-free).
It is! I made this recipe even healthier by using plant-based ingredients, simple swaps, and tons of veggies.
Stir-fried Korean glass noodles are best served warm or at room temperature.
If you’re feeding a large group of people, this vegan japchae is perfect for sharing. Simply double or triple the recipe and follow the same instructions.
More Easy Korean Recipes
Vegan Japchae (Korean Glass Noodle Stirfry)
- roughly 250g japchae noodles
- 1 carrot julienned
- 1/3 sweet onion thinly sliced
- 3-4 scallions julienned
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms sliced
- 4-5 cups spinach
- neutral oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Japchae sauce
- 1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar can use other granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- Optional for garnish
- 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
- sliced green onion/scallion
- vegan JUST egg
- Prepare your vegetables by finely julienning and chopping, and prepare your japchae sauce by whisking ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Bring water to a boil and cook your japchae noodles until soft and translucent, about 6-7 minutes. They should be almost slippery in texture. Rinse with cool water and drain, cut with scissors and mix in 1 tbsp of your sauce and let sit.
- Next, to prepare the traditional way, sauté all of your veggies individually, with oil and a touch of salt and pepper. Add each ingredient to the pan, sauté lightly (you want to maintain the crunch, so don't overcook) then add into a large mixing bowl. Sauté your noodles for a few minutes as well and add to the vegetable bowl. Blanch and pat dry your spinach, add to the bowl and mix well to combine. Alternatively, to prepare a bit more quickly, start by sautéing carrots, then add onion, mushrooms and scallions to the pan. Add spinach at the very end and cook very lightly, then toss in your noodles along with remaining sauce and sauté until combined.
- Garnish with sliced vegan egg if using, sliced scallion and sesame seeds to top.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.