You can enjoy this meatless, gluten-free, and flavorful Vegan Japchae recipe in less than 30 minutes – This popular and super healthy Korean glass noodle stir-fry is made with an abundance of fresh veggies, plant proteins, and chewy sweet potato glass noodles! It doesn’t matter if you serve it warm or cold – its classic umami flavors will always shine through!
The Best Vegan Japchae Recipe
If you have not tried this dish before, then it’s high time you do! It is one of the many Korean dishes that have made its presence known around the world because of its unique flavor and texture. Typically cooked with beef, this veganized version replaces that by adding more mushrooms. I love how they absorb flavors like crazy and have a meaty texture in every bite- you won’t even miss the meat at all!
Traditionally, Korean Japchae takes a long time to prepare because each vegetable is stir-fried separately. This is done to get the texture and color of the vegetables right as each requires a different cook time. However, if you’re anything like me and just want a quick, healthy, and super tasty side dish for lunch or dinner, simply fry everything together! It’s quicker and easier but tastes equally delicious! Just make sure your pan or wok is large enough!
What is Japchae?
Korea is a country with an amazing plethora of culinary offerings that usually combines a riot of flavors, textures, colors, and aroma in one dish! One of the most popular Korean dishes is Japchae, which literally means mixed vegetables. A dish originally made for royals but is now commonly served on special occasions and celebrations. It is customarily made with meat, noodles, and veggies tossed in a slightly sweet and savory sauce. It is seasoned with soy sauce and sugar with a boost of nuttiness from the sesame oil. However, what makes this dish distinct from other Asian noodle dishes is the use of bouncy and translucent sweet potato noodles called Dangmyeon.
Dangmyeon- What is it?
It is aptly called glass noodles or cellophane noodles because of their transparent appearance once cooked. This type of noodle is made from sweet potato starch instead of the usual wheat and rice. I just love how the slippery and elastic texture of these noodles complements the crunchiness of the veggies I used! On top of that, it’s also naturally gluten-free. They are easily available at Korean stores or Asian markets when I’m in the mood for some. If you do not have one near you, you can always order them online.
Ingredients Used, Substitutions, and Variations
- Sweet Potato Noodles: using other types of noodles for this dish is possible! It won’t exactly be apples to apples in terms of texture and appearance but you can still get to enjoy the wonderful flavors of the dish! In a pinch try using homemade noodles, udon, rice or soba noodles. You can also try vermicelli or spaghettini, though they are a bit on the thin side. As always, check and follow package instructions when cooking.
- Plant Protein: I used brown button mushrooms but any type will do. You can make this dish more protein-rich, by adding a meat substitute of your choice, such as crispy tofu or store-bought vegan meat strips.
- Veggies: I used onions, garlic, carrots, red bell pepper, zucchini, scallion, and baby spinach for this recipe. Other vegetables that would work well are cabbage, broccoli, yellow or green peppers, Chinese chives, sprouts or bok choy. Any stir-fry-friendly veggies will do.
- Sauce: I used a strong Tamari sauce for an umami-rich taste. It is naturally gluten-free and is more flavorful than soy sauce. You can replace coconut syrup with any sweetener you have on hand. Nothing gives an Asian dish an authentic taste than sesame oil! But if you don’t have any, you can also use peanut oil. If you like to add a dash of spiciness to it, you can add some sriracha or crushed red chili flakes.
- Garnishing: A generous sprinkling of sesame seed and thinly sliced scallions and coriander gives the dish an authentic Asian flair! Serve with slices of lime for those who prefer it a bit tangy.
How to make Vegan Japchae
As always, I recommend checking out the recipe video and this step-by-step instruction first. Then you’ll find the full recipe with exact measurements in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Cook the noodles
Cook the sweet potato noodles a large pot of water according to the package instructions. Then drain and rinse the noodles under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Transfer to a bowl and cut them with scissors a few times. Drizzle with a bit of sesame oil and toss to coat so they do not stick together.
Step 2: Chop the veggies, make the sauce and fry the mushrooms
Now chop the vegetables and whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce (tamari sauce, coconut syrup, and sesame oil). Then sauté the mushrooms in a large skillet or wok until golden-brown. Finally, add a little of the sauce and swirl the pan until the mushrooms are evenly marinated with the sauce. Then remove from the pan and set aside.
Step 3: Stir-fry the veggies
In the same pan (or a wok) heat another tbsp of oil and sauté the onions until translucent. Then add zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, and cook for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are tender but still yielding a crunch. Lastly, stir in the garlic and spinach and set aside until the spinach has wilted. Transfer the veggies to the bowl of noodles, add the remaining sauce and toss well – Done!
Tip: If you want to serve the dish warm, you can add the noodles to the vegetables in the pan at the end.
What to serve Vegan Japchae with?
Storing your leftovers
Leftovers should be refrigerated a few hours after serving to prevent spoiling. Keep it in the fridge for not more than days. You can serve it cold or reheat it in a pan using medium-low heat if you prefer it warm.
This Vegan Japchae recipe is:
- Meatless and gluten-free
- Quicker and easier to make compared to the traditional
- Brimming with Asian umami flavors
- Easily customizable
- Good to serve warm or cold
- Perfect for special celebrations and occasions
- Full of bouncy and crunchy textures
- Perfectly seasoned and garnished
- Super tasty!
More recipes to try
If you like Asian, Korean, Japanese, Thai or Chinese cuisine, then you should also definitely try the following dishes:
- Asian Chili Garlic Noodles
- Vegan dumplings (Gyoza/ Potstickers)
- Vegan Pad Thai with Veggie Noodles
- Thai Peanut Ramen Noodle Soup
- Gluten-free Gyoza Dumplings
- General Tso’s Tofu with Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Scallion Pancakes
- Crispy Sesame Tofu with Tahini Sauce
- Asian Peanut Sesame Noodles
- Crispy Vegan Spring Rolls
- Chinese Eggplants with Chili Garlic Sauce
- Korean Bibimbap
- Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice
If you try this vegan Korean Japchae recipe, please leave me a comment and rating because I’d love to hear your feedback! And if you take a photo of your korean glass noodle salad and share it on Instagram, please tag me with @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka to be sure I don’t miss your post! 😊
- 7 oz (200 g) sweet potato glass noodles Dangmyeon
- 8.8 oz (250 g) mushrooms I use brown button mushrooms but any will do!
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 carrot sliced into thin strips
- 1 red bell pepper sliced into thin strips
- 1 (200 g) medium zucchini sliced into thin strips
- 2 scallion stalks roughly chopped
- 5.3 oz (150 g) baby spinach
- 2-3 tbsp oil for frying
- 3-4 tbsp strong tamari sauce or soy sauce
- 1 tbsp coconut syrup or other sweeteners to taste
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil or peanut oil
- sesame seeds
*Note: Be sure to watch the recipe video + step-by-step photos in the blog post above.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the sweet potato noodles and cook for 5 minutes, or according to the package instructions.
- Then drain and rinse the noodles under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Transfer to a bowl and cut them with scissors a few times to be shorter. Drizzle with a bit of sesame oil and toss to coat (this will prevent them from sticking together).
- In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the sauce (tamari sauce, coconut syrup, and sesame oil). Set aside.
- Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2-3 minutes (without stirring) until they are golden-brown on one side. Then flip them over, reduce the heat a little bit and fry for 2 more minutes. Add a bit of the sauce and stir until the mushrooms are evenly coated. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan (or a wok) heat another tbsp of oil. Add the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes, until translucent. Add zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, and cook for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still yielding a crunch.
- Lastly, stir in the garlic and spinach and set aside until the spinach has wilted. Transfer the veggies to the bowl of noodles (or transfer the noodles into the pan of veggies to serve it warm as a stir-fry). Add the remaining sauce and toss well.
- Serve cold as a salad or warm as a stir-fry and garnish with sesame seeds scallions, coriander, and lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!
- Noodles: You could also try regular glass noodles other kind of noodles, such as rice, soba, udon, or homemade noodles. However, keep in mind that other noodles have different cooking times and textures.
- Veggies: Also other vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, yellow or green peppers, sprouts or bok choy go well.
- Protein: Feel free to add a meat substitute of your choice, e.g. crispy tofu or vegan meat strips.
- Coconut syrup: Any other sweetener can be used instead.
- For more tips and information be sure to read the article above!
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