Hubby and I had taken to liking Korean cuisine not just of our adventurous palates but also because of the K-Dramas we have been watching. It seems that after a scene where the actors eat, we also crave their food. One time I ordered japchae from a Korean restaurant and I was sorely disappointed. So I came up with my own homemade japchae recipe just to satisfy my cravings. And both hubby and I were happy about it.
Disappointment over My Food Order
We had been on home quarantine for almost two months now because of Covid-19. While I am a homebody, I do miss the control I have over my schedule, like going out to the supermarket for groceries or having a date night with hubby.
The nearest thing to the semblance of normal in our lives right now is food delivery. So I ordered from a famous Korean restaurant here in Bacolod City. Everything was so efficient. There was no problem with the contactless delivery by foodpanda and I appreciate it very much.
We had three dishes and one of them was japchae. The others were quite okay, but for P219, I did expect more from my japchae. It turned out just about a cup of noodles with a few slices of vegetables and a cube of chicken. The taste was authentic but it was really disappointing, to say the least.
If you can remember, I made Korean beef stew last time. Recipe here: Korean Beef Stew Recipe: Restaurant-Style Cooking with Beef Camto. I made almost a kilo of beef camto (flank steak), so I had a bowl of leftovers that we just stored in the refrigerator. I also had refrigerated beef stock. Since authentic japchae needed flank steak, it was good timing.
Homemade Japchae Recipe
I am sharing this homemade japchae recipe with you because I want to show you how you can transform your leftovers into something really tasty. My japchae also had chicken fillet because of some leftovers as well as fried egg toppings, which were breakfast leftovers as well.
Additionally, I didn’t use the dangmyeon, or a kind of cellophane noodles made of sweet potato starch. This is the kind that is traditionally cooked for japchae. Instead, I used what was available in our pantry – the Chinese vermicelli. Since we are a Filipino-Chinese family, we always have Chinese vermicelli at home. We like it so much.
It is also a kind of cellophane noodles but it is made of starch, not necessarily potato. The strands are longer and a wee bit slimmer. Just a wee bit so it could pass as dangmyeon. It’s slippery to the bite, too.
The Essence of Japchae
For me, the essence of japchae is the slimy and slippery cellophane noodles, soy sauce, and sesame oil. As long as you have these three ingredients in the kitchen, you can already make japchae. Everything else will just be icing on the cake. I won’t order japchae from that restaurant anymore.
So here is my homemade japchae recipe.
- 3 cups beef stock
- 200 grams dried Chinese vermicelli noodles
- Cooking oil
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup Chicken fillet, marinated in salt and soy sauce
- Vegetables (could be spinach, cabbage, I used Napa cabbage), sliced thinly
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- Salt and pepper
- Soy sauce (about 2 Tbsps)
- Teriyaki sauce (about Sesame oil
- 2 Tbsps)
- 2 Tbsps. honey
- 3 Tbsps. sesame seeds, toasted
- Green onions, sliced about 1.5 inches long
- Red bell pepper, sliced into strips
- Cilantro, optional
Beef Stock Tip
If you don’t have beef stock on hand, boil 3 cups of water with 1-2 beef cubes. You have instant beef stock. I am not afraid to use these things because it’s not every day that we cook with artificial flavorings like this. Besides, I am not a chef. I am a homecooking mom who wants to serve restaurant-style dishes to her family. So I can get away with it.
Using Sesame Seeds in Cooking
I generously use sesame seeds and sesame oil in my dishes, not only because they taste and smell so good, they also have health benefits. Read here: Health Benefits of Sesame Seeds for Menopausal Women
Heat the beef stock in a pot. Season with salt and pepper. Once the beef stock is boiling, add the dried vermicelli noodles. Completely submerge, add some sesame oil to prevent sticking, and turn off the heat. Set aside.
In a different pan or skillet, saute the garlic and onions for about a minute. Do not overcook. Stir in the chicken and stir-fry until translucent. If you are using beef, you will have to stir-fry then add water for boiling. It will take some time to cook the beef until tender.
Note: You may want to cook the beef separately long before you prepare your japchae. That way, your noodles won’t be oversoaked.
In my case, I used leftover chicken fillet that our cook made from the previous meal. It was also seasoned with soy sauce but cooked with potatoes. Into the pan they all went.
When the chicken is cooked through, stir in the “tough” vegetables like the carrots and Napa cabbage stems. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes or until almost wilted. Then stir in the leafy parts.
Season with salt, pepper, honey, and the soy sauce. If you don’t have teriyaki sauce, double the soy sauce. I just use teriyaki sauce because it is a little sweet. Keep adjusting the seasoning until you get the desired flavor.
Remember that I had beef stew leftovers? I removed some of the sauce and mixed it with the vegetables. It elevated the flavor of my japchae. So if you have leftovers that are soy sauce-based, don’t hesitate to add them in. That’s reinventing leftovers.
Drizzle the sesame oil all over the mixture and stir in the noodles. Add the green onions, cilantro, and red bell pepper slices. This is already the quick-cook portion.
Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Serve hot topped with scrambled eggs and the remaining sesame seeds.
Since I had beef stew, I served it on the side with rice topped with fried chopped garlic. Or you can use the beef stew as toppings.
Enjoy your homemade japchae! We sure did!
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