Cook the Book: Japchae, Korean Sweet Potato Noodles

[Photographs: Julie Toy]

Everything about cellophane noodles is just kind of fun—their cool plasticky appearance, their chewy, springy texture, the way they soften within seconds on coming into contact with hot water, and of course, eating them.

This recipe for Japchae from Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee's Quick and Easy Korean Cookings combines the noodles with little strips of tender stir-fried ribeye, garlicky spinach, meaty mushrooms, and a soy-sesame dressing that coats everything.

Just like yesterday's Vegetarian Bibimbap this is a recipe where temperature doesn't matter all that much. The bold flavors combined with just cooked veggies can be enjoyed hot out of the pan, at room temperature, or even cool for straight-out-of-the-fridge leftover enjoyment.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Quick and Easy Korean Cooking to give away this week.

Adapted from Quick and Easy Korean Cookings by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee. Copyright © 2009. Published by Chronicle Books. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Cook the Book: Japchae, Korean Sweet Potato Noodles

About This Recipe

Yield:4 to 5


  • 8 ounces sweet potato noodles
  • 1/2 bunch spinach (about 4 ounces), rinsed and trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces beef rib-eye, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 to 4 pyongo or shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 carrot, shredded or cut into thin strips
  • 3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish


  1. 1

    Cook the sweet potato noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Be sure not to overcook the noodles, or they will lose their chewy texture. If you like, cut the noodles with scissors into 6- to 7-inch lengths for easier eating.

  2. 2

    Blanch the spinach in boiling water. Rinse immediately under cold water, squeeze the water from the leaves and form into a ball, and then cut the ball in half. Combine the spinach, half the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Set aside to let the flavors soak in.

  3. 3

    Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, the remaining garlic, 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil. Stir-fry until the beef is cooked, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion, mushrooms, and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the green onions and stir-fry for another minute. Remove from the heat.

  4. 4

    In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the noodles, beef mixture, spinach, remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and the sugar. Serve warm, sprinkled with sesame seeds.


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