From the various recipes of japchae that I have read, spinach appears to be a traditional ingredient. But my first japchae experience not only included spinach but some yellow beans and string beans as well. Ergo, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to play a little with the combination of vegetables. My version of japchae does not include spinach but mung beans and spring onions. The japchae you see in the photo was my second attempt at making this Korean noodle dish. The first one turned too dark so I went easy on the soy sauce on my second try.
Most japchae recipes use “glass noodles”. It’s just sotanghon so there’s no mysterious ingredient to prevent you from cooking this delicious Korean noodle dish at home. Cut off the stems of the shiitake mushrooms and discard. Slice the caps thinly. Add to the beef. Pour in the soy sauce and sesame seed oil. Add the sugar and mix well. Crush, peel, and finely mince the garlic. Peel and thinly slice the onion or shallots. Peel the ginger and grate.
Peel the carrot and cut it into matchsticks. Cut off the stems of the chilis and finely slice. For a less spicy japchae, slit the chilis in half lengthwise and scrape off the seeds before slicing. Cook the sotanghon in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain. Rinse in ice water. Drain once more and set aside. Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water for a minute. Drain. Drop in a bowl of ice water to refresh. Drain again. Cut the onion leaves into 1-inch lengths. Toast the sesame seeds in an oil-free frying pan until light brown and aromatic.
Heat the cooking oil in a wok. Pour in the beaten eggs. Tilt the wok around to spread the eggs as thinly as possible. Cook until set. Transfer to a cutting board, roll, and slice thinly. Set aside. Strain the beef and mushrooms (reserve the marinade) and cook in the hot oil for about a minute. Add the onion or shallots, garlic, ginger, and carrot, and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the sotanghon and bean sprouts. Pour in the reserved marinade and stir until well blended and the coloring is even. Season with patis, as needed. Sprinkle with ground pepper. Add the onion leaves and toasted sesame seeds. Toss and stir to blend.