Here is a variation of the japchae (잡채) that has spicy seafood. I got this idea after my family enjoyed eating it at a Korean restaurant from the Koreatown of Ne York City. It has a clean and wonderful spicy kick that was enough to wake up our palates without overpowering. Since it has a lot of seafood, it became a nice improvement to the traditional japchae.
In case you don’t like seafood, you may turn the recipe into a vegan japchae by removing the seafood. Also, if you hate spicy food, remove the Korean red chili pepper flakes or gochugaru and put on the mild seafood japchae.
The dangmyeon (당면) or potato starch noodles are the main ingredient. People also call it the glass noodles. It is common to boil the japchae noodles in water for a few minutes to cook it. I was able to soak the noodles until they became soft and then stir-
The main ingredient, of course, is sweet potato starch noodles called dangmyeon (당면), also known as glass noodles. The most common way to cook the noodles for japchae is to boil in water for a few minutes. Here, I soaked the noodles until soft, and then stir-fried in oil infused with gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes). This method yields a bit chewier and bouncier noodles. If you like softer noodles, you can boil them first before stir-frying.
For the seafood part of the dish, I used a small, tender squid (known as calamari in America), and small shrimp. The restaurant version also had small octopus (nakji, 낙지). You can simply use shrimp if you’d like.
The vegetables I used in this recipe are pretty basic — onion, carrot, mushrooms, and scallion. Use any mushrooms you have or like. If you have leftover spinach, cucumber, zucchini or bell pepper in the fridge, any of them would be great in this recipe. You don’t need much for this recipe.
- 4 ounces dangmyeon, 당면 (Korean sweet potato starch noodles)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon gochugaru (preferably finely ground) – see note
- 1 small squid (about 4 ounces)
- 8 small shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 small carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 2 to 3 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice), thinly sliced
- 2 ounces enoki mushrooms – optional
- 1 scallion, sliced diagonally
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Soak the noodles in warm water until soft (about 30 to 40 minutes), and drain.
- Clean the shrimp and squid. Cut the squid into bite size pieces.
- Prepare the vegetables, and mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Add the vegetable oil, sesame oil, and the gochugaru to a pan, and heat until hot over medium low heat, stirring. Remove from the heat as soon as the oil starts to turn red and the chili pepper flakes become a bit pasty. Do not burn the gochugaru.
- Turn the heat to medium, and add the noodles to the pan along with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the prepared sauce. Stir-fry until the noodles are soft, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove the noodles onto a plate. In the same pan, stir fry the onion for a minute, and then carrot and mushrooms until wilted. Add a tablespoon of water if the vegetables look dry. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Add the seafood and the remaining sauce, and stir-fry until the seafood is cooked through. Follow this by the scallion and optional enoki mushrooms until the scallions are slightly wilted.
- Return the noodles to the pan, and toss everything well together. You can add a bit more sugar and/or soy sauce to taste.
- You can grind your regular gochugaru in a spice grinder. I used 1 tablespoon gochugaru for the first photo, and 1/2 tablespoon for the second photo.