Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles) with Tofu

4.78 from 88 votes
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Grab a big bowl of Japchae Korean glass noodles with tofu! Each bite is packed with healthy vegetables and plant protein for a delicious gluten-free meal.

Japchae Korean glass noodles in a bowl with tofu

Today we’re going to make your NEW favorite dish, japchae Korean glass noodles! Have you tried this before? The noodles are unique because they aren’t your typical flour or rice-based dough. A special ingredient creates luxurious, see-through noodles with a chewy texture that is quite addictive.

A savory-sweet soy sauce gets infused into each noodle, plus an abundant amount of vegetables and tofu are added for a complete meal. You won’t realize that you’re almost down to your last bite, time for seconds my friend. If you’re ready to try something different or already a fan and want to make japchae right at home, I’m ready when you are!

Metal tongs grabbing noodles from a saute pan

What makes these Korean noodles so special is that they’re made with sweet potato starch. What? Yes, it’s a real thing, I swear, and it’s amazing. The noodles come in these super long bundles that are a light gray in color. Once cooked they become a transparent silver noodle, like looking through “glass,” hence the name. So clever!

The noodles are so long that they need to be cut into smaller strands after boiling unless you like twirling your chopsticks for days and end up with a huge noodle ball. I’d actually like to see that!

Bowl of Japchae with cubes of tofu and slices of mushrooms

The sweet potato starch-based noodles do an excellent job absorbing all of the savory sauce. The sticky strands aren’t “saucy” on the outside like normal pasta dishes. Instead, all of the bold flavors are trapped inside each noodle and delivered straight to your taste buds.

To add more texture and nutrients, shredded carrots, onions, garlic, and blanched spinach are tossed in with the noodles. I added some tofu to the dish for extra protein. Homemade healthy comfort food at it’s best. Grab a few bowls, people that make your heart smile and get ready to grub! What are your other favorite Korean dishes? I’d love to hear!

Chopsticks lifting Japchae out of a bowl

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What do sweet potato noodles taste like and how do I cook them?

Korean sweet potato starch noodles (dang myun), are very neutral in taste. This allows them to grab any flavors from a sauce or other ingredients. Once cooked they are thin, chewy, stretchy and a glassy transparent color. The noodles are cooked very quickly in boiling water for about 5 minutes until rehydrated and chewy. Typically for the Japchae (or chap chae) stir-fried noodle dish, the noodles are cooled under running water to stop the cooking process and drained before adding to the pan. Make sure to cut the noodles into shorter strands to make it easier to grab with chopsticks. These noodles are perfect for stir-fries or even added to soups. Plus they are grain and gluten-free!

Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles) with Tofu

Grab a big bowl of Japchae Korean glass noodles with tofu! Each bite is packed with healthy vegetables and plant protein for a delicious gluten free meal.
4.78 from 88 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Korean

Ingredients  

  • ¼ cup soy sauce, low sodium, or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup firm tofu, diced, (7 ounces)
  • 8 ounces sweet potato starch noodles, Assi brand
  • 4 ounces spinach, fresh
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded
  • 2 scallion stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Instructions 

  • In a medium-sized bowl whisk together soy sauce and honey. Add tofu, gently stir to coat and allow to marinate while you prepare other ingredients.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil, enough to fit the noodles. Cook the noodles for 5 minutes. Do not discard water. You will use it to blanch the spinach.
  • Use tongs to transfer the noodles to a colander and rinse under cool running water.
  • Cut the noodles into 6-inch long pieces with kitcen shears. Set aside.
  • Blanch spinach in the same pot of water that you cooked the noodles, about 1 minute until wilted. Drain and rinse under cold running water.
  • Form spinach into a ball and squeeze out any excess water. Use a knife to cut the spinach ball in half. Set aside.
  • Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and allow it to heat up. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, and carrots, saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add scallion and saute 1 minute.
  • Add tofu and cook 1 minute to warm, do not discard the sauce.
  • Turn heat to low and add noodles, spinach, sesame oil, and sauce. Gently stir to combine until noodles are coated. Serve topped with sesame seeds.

Notes

  • For a stronger sauce flavor, add an additional 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 ½ teaspoon honey.
  • Maple syrup, coconut sugar or granulated sugar can be substituted for honey.
  • You can use dried shiitake mushrooms. Rehydrate for 10 minutes in hot water, then slice. The taste will be stronger but gives a nice umami flavor.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 373kcal (19%)Carbohydrates 67g (22%)Protein 9g (18%)Fat 8g (12%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Sodium 850mg (35%)Potassium 362mg (10%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 12g (13%)Vitamin A 5330IU (107%)Vitamin C 12.4mg (15%)Calcium 142mg (14%)Iron 2.1mg (12%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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49 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. vej says

    i have literally been making this like at least twice a month since i found it through living w roommates in university (like 3 years of a bunch of uni students eating this recipe) . thank u so much this recipe rules

  2. Recipe Reader says

    I love your recipe! Thank you for posting; is there a way to use a crockpot for this? If so, what modifications would have to be made? Can I put all of these ingredients in at once?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you! I haven’t tried making the recipe in the slow cooker before. I don’t see why you couldn’t cook the noodles on high setting until the noodles are cooked, drain, then add the remaining ingredients until warmed through. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

      • Recipe Reader says

        Thank you! I tried it out!
        I first coated the crockpot with sesame oil and put dry noodles in with enough water to soak – placed on high setting for one hour.

        After that, I drained crockpot; with 1 cup of water still left in it and added vegetables and soy sauce with sesame seeds and sesame oil and let cook for 30 minutes more, it turned out okay, I will keep experimenting!

        • Jessica Gavin says

          I love that you gave it a try! What do you think was missing when making it in the slow cooker? Maybe you can pre-cook some of the vegetables in the microwave or skillet.

  3. Marlen Marlow says

    I always fry my tofu before adding it into any recipe. Does this recipe call for tofu to not be fried? Curious if it would break in the process of stirring. Looking forward to trying this out! Thanks!

  4. Urvashi says

    Such a fabulous and easy recipe! I am a really bad cook and even I managed this, and it tasted fabulous. Thank you so much! Can’t wait to make it for friends soon. 🙂

  5. Mandy Claudio says

    Question: can the oil be omitted from the recipe or will that result in sticky noodles? I’m currently not consuming oil but I have some of these noodles and I’ve been dying to make them!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I think you can remove the oil if you use a nonstick pan for cooking the vegetables. Or you can steam the vegetables in the microwave until tender and then combine with the noodles and sauce.

  6. Anh says

    Hello,

    This sounds really good and easy to make. I will give it a try this weekend.

    Just wanted to ask real quick, for the scallions, do you cut it length wise to create long pieces or cut slanted or in circle? Or does it matter?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I can’t wait to hear what you think about the recipe Anh! I just cut the scallions lengthwise in long pieces 🙂

  7. Laura T says

    I stumbled upon this recipe from a quick “vegetarian japchae recipe” Google search, and I’m so glad that it turned out super tasty! I’m getting into cooking my own meals (as it is healthier and cheaper) and the only thing I’d say to the person who said this recipe tasted bland is that it’s not, it just tastes lighter than japchae from restaurants. I love the lighter taste as it makes me feel like I’m not eating something terribly heavy, and I did cut down the vegetable oil so as not to make it too greasy (still used the same amount of sesame oil though). This was a great recipe overall. Thanks!

  8. Pete C says

    Thank you so much for this! Recently had JapChae for the first time at a vegan restaurant, and now I want to make it. This recipe sounds amazing…I will let you know. Thanks again:)

  9. Jen says

    I’m curious how similar rice noodles are to these noodle you list. I had always known rice noodles as glass noodles.
    Thanks
    Jen

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great question Jen! I find that the Korean potato starch noodles are clear in color, but they also have a more chewy and stretchy texture. The rice noodles are also delicate but have a clean break when you bite into it, with not as much elasticity. I believe that the glass or cellophane noodles made from mung bean flour look similar to rice noodles, white and opaque, but have a little more chew.

  10. SK says

    I tried this recipe today and it was a success! Definitely thought the tofu went well with the dish and loved it overall 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Brie- I’ve found it adds a nice umami flavor to the noodles but can be omitted if you don’t like mushrooms.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can add either red chili flakes, sriracha or any chili sauce you like to the sauce, at the level you like. I love that you want it spicier!

  11. Marlene says

    A friend of mine gave me the glass noodles and I had no idea what to do with them. I found your recipe. It was amazing.!!! Easy to make and adapt to ones taste. I added a little more mushroom and would add extra spinach. Very very tasty, easy and good. Thank you for sharing. I would never have known how to cook or what to do with these noodles otherwise.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Marlene! I’m so glad that you found a yummy way to use the glass noodles with the recipe 🙂 Great idea to add more spinach and mushrooms!

  12. Vic says

    Can’t wait to try this one.Thanks for sharing this recipe. You made it so easy with the way you presented the steps and your tips…

  13. Christine says

    Thank you so much for the easy japchae recipe…I’ve always loved these noodles but never thought I would make it at home. My kids loved it.

  14. Melanie says

    Delicious. Made this – this week for myself and my husband (who is a die-hard meat lover) absolutely loved it. He said its the best japchae he has ever had. Easy and definitely recommend!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great questions Alison! It’s about a 4 serving recipe, so 2 ounces of noodles, 1/4 cup of tofu, 1 ounce of spinach, 1/8 cup carrots and a quarter of the sauce.

      • Hannah says

        Hi Jessica,

        I have a question about the serving size and calories. If 2oz of noodles (57g) is 200 calories, how is each portion only 217 calories? Do all the other ingredients only equal 17 calories?

        Thanks so much!

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Hi Hannah- Thanks for the note! I recently migrated the nutrition info and updated this one to reflect the right content per serving.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback Silvio! You can always add more soy sauce and honey as indicated in the recipe notes, use regular soy sauce for a saltier flavor, and used dried mushrooms as well. I hope you give it another try 🙂

  15. Kathy Egan says

    Thanks for the japchae recipe. I have had some really good spicy Korean fried chicken – I read somewhere it is a popular bar food because people want to drink more beer with this chicken. I wish I could find a recipe similar to the kind I’ve tried.

  16. Shilps says

    Thank you for posting this! I love japchae noodles and I rarely get to find a vegetarian version. I wish I had seen the note about extra sauce for a stronger flavor before I made the dish, but that just means I’ll be making it again! What did you use to get your carrots to look so noodle-y?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are so welcome! I’m glad you liked it, the extra sauce will be really yummy next time 🙂 I found this vegetable peeler at the Japanese market that shreds carrots into longer pieces. You could also use a spiralizer or just cut the carrots into longer thin strips.

  17. E Dee says

    HI Jessica,

    Thank you for your reply i have both ranch 99 and mitsuwa local to me now i have seen the photo on amazon you sent me i will know what to look for. I too love thus dish and wanted to make it at home thankyou looking forward to making it ?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Dee! Look for glass noodles or korean vermicelli. I got mine at a local asian grocery store like ranch 99 or mitsuwa, but they may have it in the asian section of larger grocery stores like albertsons. Here is an amazon link: http://amzn.to/2mkuYT3