I have been eating Chapchae for as long as I can remember. My mom has always made this for me and it wasn’t until late last year that I finally made this dish on my own. Like most Korean food, you’ll learn the measurements for ingredients and exactly what you like the more you cook and soon enough, you won’t even need the measuring spoons because you’ll just know.
Chapchae is probably one of the most popular noodle dishes in Korea. The foundation of the dish is the mixture of the noodles, soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. . . YUM! Because mung bean or sweet potato noodles both absorb tons of flavor, you can mix and match the vegetables or meat to your liking. I used carrots, spinach, marinated beef*, orange/yellow bell peppers and onion in the recipe below. I think the flavor and color combination is absolutely wonderful! You can also try adding shiitake mushrooms too!
- 8 oz mung bean or sweet potato noodles (might be called cellophane or glass noodles or Chinese vermicelli; can be found at any Asian/Korean grocery store)
- 1 sweet onion, sliced into thin strips
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or crushed garlic)
- ½ pound baby spinach, parboiled
- 2 carrots, julienned
- Half yellow bell pepper, chopped (more to add color to the dish)
- Half orange bell pepper, chopped
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 3-5 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- Sesame seeds (optional)
- 6 oz. beef or pork (optional)**
- ** Thinly sliced brisket works well in this dish and Korean barbecued beef (bulgogi) is used often. In a pinch, chunks of rotisserie chicken, strips of egg, or fried tofu pieces are good protein additions.
- If you have the time, marinate your beef in some soy sauce and sesame oil. I marinated the meat in the morning before I left for work so the meat was marinating all day. Marinating the meat just makes it taste so much better.
- Get all of your vegetables cut and ready to go
- Boil the spinach just for 2-3 minutes, rinse, chop up and set aside
- In a large pan or wok over medium heat, heat vegetable (or olive) oil and 1 Tbsp sesame oil.
- Add onion slices and garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.
- Add the rest of vegetables and cook for 4-6 minutes, until the vegetables are half-cooked and still a bit crispy.
- In a separate pan, cook the beef. I prefer to do this separately to ensure all the meat gets cooked evenly.
- Cook noodles according to package directions. (usually 4-5 minutes)
- Turn heat to low and add cooked noodles, meat (if using), soy sauce, sugar, and the remaining sesame oil. Mix to combine and cook for another 2-4 minutes.
- Add salt or more soy sauce if needed; you can also look at the color of the noodles to see if more soy sauce is needed. Taste. If using sesame seeds, sprinkle them on top, serve and enjoy!
- *If you have the time, marinate your beef in some soy sauce and sesame oil. I marinated the meat in the morning before I left for work so the meat was marinating all day. Marinating the meat just makes it taste so much better.