Vegan Zucchini Noodle Japchae

One of the very first recipe request e-mails I received from a reader was for...

Vegan Zucchini Noodle Japchae

One of the very first recipe request e-mails I received from a reader was for japchae. I had never had japchae before and it just looked like a simple vegetarian noodle dish, so I added to my “to make” list and it got pushed down to the very bottom.

When I first started blogging, I wanted to remake my favorite classics and also try to be super creative. That’s all good and well, but what I’ve learned in this past year is that sometimes, simple is better.

This japchae is as simple as it gets, but I couldn’t put my chopsticks down. Well, as you can see… they’re more like fopsticks (fake chopsticks.)

Vegan Zucchini Noodle Japchae

All through high school and a bit into college, I worked at a Japanese restaurant in my hometown called Tsuki. One of my best friends (still to this day), Shannon, got me the job there. We worked the phones, worked as hostesses and helped with takeout orders. I loved working there, it was my first real job and it put money in my pocket each week for whatever teenagers like to do – go to the movies, mini-golf, go out for dinner.

Lu’s probably rolling his eyes as he reads this, because he knows what I did as a teenager. He always teases me for talking about my days during high school where my friends and I would spend a Saturday night at Borders (R.I.P.!), flipping through magazines and books. Okay, so I’m sorta nerdy.

Vegan Zucchini Noodle Japchae

Oh, to be a teenager again – Shannon and I used to polish off huge bowls of rice with about a cup of the house teriyaki sauce. If only I could still do that and fit into my jeans. When we used to eat our sushi dinners or these teriyaki rice bowls, we would always use the “kids chopsticks” which were chopsticks that they wrapped with a tiny piece of paper and a rubber band to make them easier to use.

I think I was spoiled, because now, I can’t use real chopsticks! Obviously, I had to buy these clothespin ones at CB2 (the ones in the pictures). Lifesaver!

Vegan Zucchini Noodle Japchae

Whether using a fork, chopsticks or fopsticks, you’re going to love this japchae. It’s fantastic as a savory vegetarian meal, but you can also top it with shrimp, seared skirt steak, or some chicken. Japchae has one of those universally delicious flavorings that goes well with any protein.

So, thank you to my readers for suggesting I Inspiralize this classic Korean noodle dish!

What’s your favorite Korean noodle dish?

Nutritional Information & Recipe


Vegan Zucchini Noodle Japchae

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 2


  • 2.5 packed cups spinach
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or oil of choice
  • 1 carrot peeled, cut into matchsticks and halved
  • ½ white onion thinly sliced
  • 1 3.5 oz container shiitake mushrooms stems removed, tops sliced into ½” pieces
  • 1 large zucchini or 2 medium, Blade C
  • toasted sesame seeds to garnish (about ¼ tsp)
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds


  • Bring a small pot to a boil. While waiting to boil, combine all ingredients for the sauce, whisk together and set aside. Once water boils, add in the spinach for 30 seconds or until wilted and then transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate and gently squeeze out excess water. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-heat and once heated, add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the onion, carrots and shiitake mushrooms and cover and cook for 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms are wilted and carrots have mostly softened.
  • Add in the zucchini noodles and toss for 2-3 minutes or until zucchini is cooked to al dente. Pour the noodle mixture into a colander and toss to let excess moisture drain out. Place the drained noodle mixture back into the skillet.
  • Add in the spinach and pour in the sauce. Toss to combine all the flavors and warm the sauce, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates and garnish with sesame seeds.
with love, Ali

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Recipe Rating


  • This looks delicious and I have all the ingredients on hand (including already spiralized zoodles!). Can't wait to make this tonight - I'm going to add in shrimp.
      • How much water am I supposed to bring to a boil? Just starting dinner and I'm at a loss for the sauce!
  • i clean my spiralizer just with a cloth and pray I don't cut myself! this recipe looks delish!
  • This looks so yummy! Can't wait to try this :)
  • I clean my spiralizer with a vegetable cleaning brush. I love using the veggie noodles!!!
  • Looks like another winner, Ali! You have inspired me and my daughter with your recipes and given us something to look forward to doing together!
  • I clean my spiralizer using the strongest possible spray out of the sink's impossible not to get soaked!
  • Could you sauté the spinach rather than dunking in water? One less pan to clean! Congrats on your engagement!!
    • Shaun - yes of course, you can! The taste of the spinach is muted after boiling, which is why you do it - but feel free to sautee. And thank you :) :) :)
  • I keep a nail brush by the sink, it comes in handy for cleaning lots of things including my spiralizer!
  • LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog. Came across it the other day after I finally invested in a spiralizer. You are amazingly creative. Thank you.
  • What are the serving sizes of your recipes?
  • I clean my spiralizer blades in the dishwasher but it doesn't always get everything competely clean.
  • I use a knife to clean my spiralizer. :o
  • I currently use a dish brush but it is not very effective :(
  • I clean my spiralizer with kitchen brushes.
  • I soak my blades in soapy water a lot unless it's beets or a potato which I will clean immediately. I'm making this to go with some kimchi I have and I might add some gochujang to it.
  • I"d love to be about to clean my spiralizer better than just rinsing for the blades. I love Korean food. My favorite noodle dish is the cold clear noodle dish you get as an appetizer at Korean restaurants!
  • I clean mine with my juicer cleaning brush. It works great!
  • I start out by rinsing it as soon as I'm finished spiralizing - this gets most of the bits off before they dry (so much harder to clean when stuff has dried on there). Then we use a toothbrush & some soapy water.
  • I use a sponge and it works terribly! :-P
  • Waiting for my spiralizer to be delivered ~ bet this brush would be a big help!
  • I don't have a spiralizer to clean :) I use a julienne peeler- but I use it frequently enough that I am ready to buy a spiralizer to make the process a bit faster. Love all these creative veggie recipes. Yum!
  • Use a scrub brush on the blade and the skewer part of the spiralizer. That way you won't get hurt and you will use it more often.
  • This look great! Can't we just throw the spinach into the mix before serving so we dont have to do the boiled water thing at the beginning. BTW: I went to the Williams Sonoma spiralizer presentation here in CT and loved your recipes. We all got to sample them after the chef prepared them.
  • Could you describe the 3 blades? I know that blade C makes the noodles but don't know what the other 2 do and which is A and B. Thanks
  • Hi Ali, I am new to the art of spiralizing having just recently bought myself a spiralizer (although it's a different sort to the one you use, it seems to be doing the trick so far!) after coming across your wonderful blog and can't wait to try out your ingenious recipes! I notice most of your recipes call for 'medium' sized zucchinis - around what weight would this be?! :)
  • OXO brush is a great idea! Hope I win one! Can't wait to make this dish. I love Korean. (And I'm terrible with chopsticks, too. Thanks goodness for fopsticks!)
  • I CANNOT wait to make this! I think I'll do it tomorrow (just have to get a few ingredients)! I usually use a normal sponge to clean my spiralizer... but it gets a bit chewed up! The brush definitely seems like the better way to go
  • Just made this as a side. Family LOVED it. Even the 13 year old.....!
  • Looks great!! This could also qualify for Paleo if it suggested olive or avocado oil instead of sesame oil (which is a seed, omega-6 oil), and if it mentioned tamari gluten-free soy sauce. Unfortunately, some people don't know how to do these substitutions to be compatible with their diet.
    • Definitely - many of my recipes are easily tweaked to become Paleo friendly or fit other diets!
  • I just made this the second time this week! The flavors taste exactly like my mom's japchae she used to always make! PS: CONGRATS on the engagement!!!!
  • Just starting; need help!
  • Made this tonight for dinner, and it was absolutely delicious! Because I'm lazy, I ended up spiralizing the carrot and chopping into into smaller pieces—super quick and easy.
  • Last night I spiralized zucchini and cucumber and daikon..added carrots, red bell pepper, green onions, roasted sliced almonds, sliced Korean chicken chinese chicken salad dressing and all I can say is WOW!
  • This recipe is so delicious. The zucchini noodles end up tasting very similar to lo mein. Even my meat and potatoes boyfriend loved it (with chicken added of course). He begged me to stop at the store on the way home and make more for dinner tonight!
  • I made this and it turned out great. Very simple and flavorful- and my young kids even ate it without complaint. Will definitely make again. Thanks for the great recipe.
  • Hi Ali, I actually live in Korea (teaching English here), and have started trying out your recipes (the ones where I have access to the ingredients). This is right up my alley! Japjae noodles are sooooo delicious and I think it's really impressive that you have adapted it! Actually, it's pretty impressive that you know some Korean cuisine and have made some Korean inspired dishes! I can't wait to try this! Also, I know you have something like it, but have you considered a kimchi fried-rice using real kimchi? Delish! Thanks for your recipes. I'm getting a spiralizer sent all the way here to Korea (I've been using this hand held one that's great, but not suitable for other vegetables. Anyway LOVE your recipes! Keep them coming!
  • Great recipe! Just wanted you to note that, since you put 'vegan' in the title, you should make a note in the recipe that honey isn't vegan. Some readers might not know that.
  • I made this delicious dish last night and absolutely loved it!! It was the first recipe with my new spiralizer and I am so excited to try more! Thank you for your recipes!
  • I concur with Randi that this recipe is decidedly NOT vegan as honey involves the subjugation of sentient beings. That said, it looks great and would easily be vegan-ized.
  • What amount of water am I supposed to bring to a boil? I have everything prepped and I'm stuck on your sauce directions! Help!
  • Hi I found your recipe this morning and decided to try it. Wow it is amazing. The only thing I did different was add crab meat and a tsp of chili flakes. This is going in my recipe book. Thank you for this