Simple delicious vegetarian and vegan Japchae recipe made with Korean sweet potato noodles, tofu, mushroom, and savoury soy base seasonings. Perfect as a side dish or a light meal. It's easy, nutritious, and takes only 20 minutes to prepare!
This tofu japchae is one of our favourite healthy vegan glass noodle recipes which is loaded with vegetables and balanced protein and carbs. I always cook this dish for the days I don't feel like having heavy meals. It's absolutely delicious without any meat or eggs. Traditionally this dish is served as a side dish but I love to have this dish on its own as a main meal.
If you like this chewy sweet potato noodle recipe you don't want to miss out on our reader's favourite Simple Glass Noodle Stir Fry and Prawn and Glass Noodle Salad. Both of these recipes are vegan and vegetarian adaptable.
The most traditional and authentic way to prepare Japchae is to cook each ingredient separately and stir them all together after. But here, I have prepared it in a quick, easy and time-saving way for busy days.
Why do we love this dish?
- Crowd-Pleasing: This appetizing colourful Japchae is suitable to be served at your family gatherings and parties as well. You can show off your cooking skills in the easiest way while keeping the guests happy at the same time with this delicious traditional Korean dish.
- Prep-ahead: You can do preparation one day ahead, keep it in the fridge, and heat it up just right before serving.
- Versatile: You can customise your own style by adding any vegetables and protein of your choice. Japchae sauce can be also adjusted to your taste. If you like it saltier you can add more soy sauce or if you prefer it sweet, you can add more sugar.
- Light and Healthy: Japchae is quite a healthy noodle dish as sweet potato noodles are very low in calories, and the dish is packed with plenty of vegetables. Seasoned with simple everyday ingredients, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar but the taste is so delicious and satisfying.
What is Vegan Japchae?
Traditional Korean Japchae is made with a choice of protein, vegetables, and sweet potato starch noodles. Vegan japchae can be prepared with plant base protein and the rest of the ingredients are already vegan and vegetarian-friendly. The noodles are chewy-tender in texture, the vegetables are tender-crisp and it has a salty, sweet, umami flavour.
From ancient times to the present, Japchae is one of the most popular and mandatory dishes prepared and served during Korean Festivals and Traditional Ceremonies. Since it is easy to be made and tastes flavourful, Korean people love to enjoy it often on their usual days as well. It's popular not just in Korea but loved by many people across the world.
Before the cooking process starts, you need to gather and prepare the essential ingredients.
Dangmyeon ( 당면, 唐麵, Korean cellophane noodles ) - Korean glass noodles are ideal for this recipe which are made of sweet potato starch. You can also use Korean potato noodles or mung bean noodles. In the UK and in some countries we can buy sweet potato noodles only at Korean supermarkets or Amazon online. It's thicker and chewier than Chinese glass noodles and perfect for making salad, stir-fries, and soup. If you cannot find dangmyeon noodles, you can use regular cellophane noodles as a substitute.
Tofu - Add firm tofu which is great for stir-fries and rich in protein. Gently press to remove excess water and pat dry with a paper towel to absorb moisture. Then slice it into thin strips or bite-size pieces.
Vegetables - Shiitake mushroom, carrot, onions, garlic, spring onion ( green onion ), bell peppers, and spinach are ideal to make this japchae vegan recipe but feel free to add your favourite veggies.
3 Ingredients Japchae Sauce - Soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil are 3 classic ingredients you will need. Add a dash of freshly ground pepper to your taste.
Sesame seeds - Don't forget to add toasted sesame seeds. It's one of the important ingredients to make this dish a toasty, nutty, unique authentic flavour.
How to Make it
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
- Chop up the vegetables and slice the tofu.
- Boil the sweet potato noodles according to the packet instructions.
- Drain the water out and place it in a large mixing bowl. Pour half of the japchae sauce mixture and mix it well.
- Stir fry the tofu and mushrooms for 1-2 minutes with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In the remaining pan, drizzle more oil and saute the onions and 1 tbsp minced garlic. Follow with the carrot, bell peppers, spinach and spring onions. Place them into the mixing bowl.
- Remove from pan and place it over the noodles.
- Pour the remaining sauce, and add 1 tbsp of chopped garlic and toasted sesame seeds. Combine everything well. Make a taste test and add more soy sauce or sugar if needed. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with toasted sesame seeds! Enjoy!
Commonly Asked Questions
Japchae is a side dish but you can also serve it as a main meal. It can be served either warm or cold.
Yes, japchae is great for meal prep and cooking big batches. Prepare the japchae one day ahead, store it in an air-tight container and keep it in the fridge overnight and serve it the next day. It even tastes better! It usually lasts in the fridge for a couple of days.
Heat up in the microwave or over the stovetop just right before serving. You might want to add a splash of water, and sesame oil if the noodles are dry. Sprinkle chopped spring onions and toasted sesame seeds to freshen up the dish.
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Vegan Japchae ( Korean Glass Noodle Stir-Fry )
- 1 Large mixing bowl
- 1 Large frying pan or skillet
- 120 grams Korean sweet potato noodle Dangmyeon noodles/potato starch noodles/cellophane noodles ( About 4.2 oz )
- 150 grams Firm tofu Choice of plant-base protein or , chicken, beef, eggs, etc ( About 5.3 oz ) Cut thin slices/pieces
- 1-2 Bell Pepper Red/Green/Yellow ( Cut thin slices )
- 1 Carrot Julinned
- ½ Onion Cut thin slices
- 3-4 Dry Shiitake mushroom ( Rehydrated ) Or fresh mushrooms ( cut thin slices )
- 2-3 Spring Onions Cut 2" pieces
- 2 tbsp Garlic Chopped/minced ( divided into 1 tbsp each )
- 1-2 tbsp Oil Vegetable/sunflower/canola or neutral flavour oil
- handful Spinach
- 1 tbsp Toasted sesame seeds
- Pinch of salt & pepper To season tofu and mushroom
- 3 tbsp Regular soy sauce All-purpose or light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Sesame oil Toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp Sugar Brown/white/sugar syrup
- ½ tsp Black pepper or pepper to taste
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Chop up the vegetables and slice the tofu.
- Boil the sweet potato noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain the water out and place it in a large mixing bowl. Pour half of the japchae sauce mixture and mix it well with the noodles.
- Stir fry the tofu and mushrooms for 1-2 minutes with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and place it over the noodles.
- In the remaining pan, drizzle more oil and saute the onions and 1tbsp minced garlic. Follow with the carrot, bell peppers, spinach and spring onions. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes or until just cooked through. Place them into the mixing bowl.
- Pour the remaining sauce, and add 1 tbsp of chopped garlic and toasted sesame seeds. Combine everything well.
- Make a taste test and add more soy sauce or sugar if needed. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with toasted sesame seeds! Enjoy!
- Korean Japchae noodle is made from Korean sweet potato starch. A bit more thick and chewy than regular cellophane noodles. If you cannot find Korean sweet potato noodles, you can use any transparent noodles available at your local stores.
- Dried Shiitake - should be soaked in the hot water for 15 -20 minutes. Gently squeeze the water out and slice it up before adding it to the stir fry.