This quick Korean stir-fry serves up a bounty of fresh-cut vegetables

  • Korean Glass Noodle and Vegetable Stir-Fry (Japchae).

    Korean Glass Noodle and Vegetable Stir-Fry (Japchae). Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post

By Joe Yonan
The Washington Post
Posted8/14/2019 6:00 AM

I never met a noodle I didn't like. Spaghetti, ramen, udon, rice: You name it, I'll slurp it, happily. A favorite, especially in the summer, is dangmyeon, Korean sweet potato noodles, aka glass noodles, aka cellophane noodles.

Why especially in summer? Because these noodles, which get their English name because of their translucence, are super-light and springy, and gluten-free. I can eat a lot of them without feeling as weighed down as I do by, say, pasta (as much as I love pasta).


When stir-fried with vegetables, they star in the Korean dish japchae. It's easy to put together -- once you get past a good bit of chopping in the prep, that is. As with most stir-fries, the work is all upfront, and once you get everything together, the actual cooking happens in the flash of a pan. The pan of choice is a wok, although a large skillet can work, too.

This version by Marja Vongerichten uses a garden's worth of produce, including tri-color bell peppers, green beans, snow peas, carrots, mushrooms, edamame and spinach. And much of the flavor comes from a quick sauce she makes from soy sauce, honey, garlic and sesame seeds. I took major liberties with the sauce because I know that a quarter-cup of even low-sodium soy sauce is going to cause an off-the-chart sodium reading for our nutritional analysis, so I substituted coconut aminos, which have much less sodium and also a touch of sweetness, allowing me to also omit the honey. If neither sodium nor sugar is an issue for you, feel free to return to her surely more traditional version.

The recipe is amenable to other substitutions and adaptations, too: You could use broccoli or cauliflower instead of green beans, kale or collard greens instead of spinach, and so on. You could include fewer vegetables, it's true, but do me a favor, and make sure to include more than one variety. The name japchae, after all, means "mixed vegetables" -- plural.

Note: The noodles can be found in Asian supermarkets and in many well-stocked grocery stores. If you can't find them, use thin rice vermicelli or any other favorite noodle.

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