This take on Korean Noodles is bursting with authentic flavors, caramelized mushrooms in a salty sweet sauce. It’s a hearty satisfying vegetarian recipe that comes together in a flash.
If you love pasta or noodles, and have a taste for international flavors, you’ll love this recipe.
These Japchae inspired noodles are stir fried in a savory sauce with just a bit of sweetness and spice.
It’s fast enough for a weeknight but impressive enough for a special occasion!
Easy Korean Noodles recipe
We love the traditional Korean dish Japchae (pronounced jap-chay or chop-shay).
Typically a Japchae recipe is made with Korean sweet potato starch noodles (called ‘glass noodles’), vegetables, meat, mushrooms, sesame oil and soy sauce.
The Korean word japchae literally translates to “mixed vegetables.” The noodles were originally made with a combination of vegetable starches, sweet potato being the most common.
They’re an essential component of any Korean dinner menu for a holiday or big event. You’ll often see it served with beef or pork and an egg topping.
Every family has their own favorite take on japchae noodles!
If you want to make a traditional Japchae try this recipe.
A new spin on Korean Noodles
We’ve created a fast and easy spin on Korean Noodles.
Instead of traditional sweet potato noodles used in Japchae this recipe uses rice noodles often used in Pad Thai.
They are a wider noodle (similar to Italian fettuccini) giving a hearty satisfying texture to the Korean Noodles. They’re also easier to find in any grocery store.
This noodles recipe is vegetarian with delicious flavors. Depending on the mushrooms used they can even have a meaty flavor (in the case of using portabella mushrooms).
Recipe Ingredients + Notes
Unsalted Butter. Combined with the sesame oil the butter is used for caramelizing the mushrooms.
Sesame oil. Adds a nutty flavor to the recipe.
Mushrooms. Any mushrooms can be used (we’ve listed some in the Variations below). I love baby bella mushrooms which are small portabella mushrooms and have a wonderful meaty flavor.
Red onion. We used red onion but yellow or white onion can also be substituted.
Garlic. Grating the garlic helps bring out the best flavor in Korean noodles.
Stir fry rice noodles. Look for the wide flat noodle, sometimes called pad thai noodles. Prepare according to package directions.
Soy sauce. Regular or gluten-free soy sauce or Tamari can be used.
Rice vinegar. Adds a sweet tang to the recipe. This type of vinegar is a classic in Asian cooking.
Vegetable stock. If you don’t need the dish to be vegetarian, low sodium chicken broth can be substituted.
Honey. Adds some earthy sweetness to the sauce.
Fresh ginger. Peeled and grated.
Caramelizing is the browning of sugar in an ingredient. It brings out a wonderful nutty flavor. It’s a key process when making French Onion Soup for instance.
When cooking the mushrooms in this recipe they should not be moved as they begin cooking. This allows the caramelization process to take effect.
Ingredients like onions take up to 45 minutes to truly caramelize and develop the deep mahogany color. The mushrooms will only cook 8 minutes.
There are countless ways to adapt these noodles to your taste.
Different mushrooms. Different types of mushrooms give Korean Noodles slightly different flavors. Shiitake mushrooms, wood ear, baby bella and oyster mushrooms are all delicious. Use your favorite mushroom or what you have on hand!
Add sliced red bell pepper. The colorful peppers can be added to the pan with the kale. They should be a bit “al dente” to contrast with the soft noodles.
More vegetables. Carrots, bok choy and green onion are more great veggies to add to Korean noodles.
Use spinach. Make a swap and add spinach to the recipe instead of kale for a different flavor.
Serve with meat. If not vegetarian, add cooked chicken, pork or thinly sliced beef to the noodles before serving.
Spicy Korean Noodles. Add a spoonful of sriracha to the sauce to bring heat to the noodles. Or add a few shakes of red chili flakes to the noodles for more kick.
Sweeter Korean Noodles. Add teriyaki sauce to taste for a sweeter version.
How to Make it – Step-by-Step
STEP 1. Caramelize the Mushrooms
Heat butter and sesame oil in a pan over medium high heat (photo 1). When hot, add the mushrooms (photo 2). Don’t move them for 5 minutes.
Continue cooking while tossing them for another 3 minutes until brown and caramelized (photo 3).
STEP 2. Stir Fry
Add the red onion to the pan with the mushrooms (photo 4). Cook for about 3 minutes, just until the onion starts to get translucent (photo 5).
Stir in the kale (photo 6).
STEP 3. Add sauce and noodles
Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, vegetable stock and ginger to the pan.
Then add the noodles (photo 7) and gently toss to combine all the ingredients with the sauce (photo 8).
Time Saving Tip: Buy pre-sliced mushrooms to cut down on prep time. Just add to pan and start cooking!
Easy mushroom cleaning tip. Mushrooms should not be run under water to clean them. Instead use a damp paper towel to gently wipe any dirt from their surface. A mushroom brush can also be used.
Caramelizing the mushrooms first brings out an earthy flavor. It adds that “special something” to the Korean noodles that you don’t get with a regular stir-fry or saute. It’s totally worth the extra step!
Yes, you can make this with the more traditional Korean glass noodles instead. Follow package directions for preparing the noodles before adding them to the recipe.
This Korean noodles recipe is gluten free. So are most traditional japchae noodles. Make sure to use a gluten free soy sauce or tamari if you need the dish to be completely gluten free.
You can find them online, or try an Asian market or the International section at a grocery store.
Transfer any leftover Korean Noodles to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheat the noodles in the microwave before enjoying. The noodles will stiffen as they cool and reheating returns them to their soft, chewy consistency.
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Vegetarian Korean Noodles
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 cups mushrooms cleaned and sliced
- ½ red onion sliced
- 1 garlic clove grated
- 1 cup kale chopped
- 1 14-ounce package ‘Stir Fry’ rice noodles cooked according to package directions
- ¼ cup soy sauce regular or gluten-free
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ¼ cup vegetable stock chicken stock can also be used
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon ginger grated
- Melt the butter and sesame oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the mushrooms and cook, without moving for 5 minutes. Toss and cook for 3 more minutes or until caramelized.
- Add the red onion and garlic clove and stir to combine, cook until the onion is slightly translucent, around 3 minutes.
- Add the kale and sauté until just wilted.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Pour the soy sauce, rice vinegar, stock, honey and ginger and stir to combine.
- Add the cooked noodles and toss so everything is well coated. Cook for 1-2 more minutes, stirring/tossing constantly, just until all ingredients are combined.
- Serve topped with green onions and sesame seeds.
- Transfer any leftover noodles to an airtight container. Store in the refridgerator for up to 3 days.
- Reheat the japchae in the microwave before enjoying. The noodles will stiffen as they cool and reheating returns them to their soft, chewy consistency.