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.)
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.
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!
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
- 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.