Korean Food: Chap Chae (noodles)

I love Korean food and wish I knew how to make more dishes. I love that my mom and dad (yes, MY DAD can cook) don’t use measuring cups and just know how much to put in and can tell you what’s missing just by tasting it. I didn’t get that gene.

Nonetheless, today I attempted to make chap chae for the first time ever! I love this dish and everything in it.  A lot of people think that this dish is easy to make and it probably is but I think it would take a couple times to master the seasoning so the flavoring of the dish is what you want.

The foundation of this dish is the mixture of the noodles, soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. Because mung bean or sweet potato noodles both absorb tons of flavor, you can mix and match the vegetables or meat to your liking. I used carrots, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, pork and onions in the version pictured here.

I grew up eating my mom’s chapchae and love it, so here is her recipe. After she says to me “You know you can find this recipe on Yahoo right?” She was patient enough to talk me through how she seasons everything and what she does, so here is my mom’s recipe, along with a little from Yahoo:


  • 8 -12 oz mung bean or sweet potato noodles (might be called cellophane or glass noodles or Chinese vermicelli)
  • 1-2 onions, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 5 shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated if dried and then sliced (get fresh ones if you can)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
  • Brown Sugar to taste (about 1 Tbsp or whatever you prefer)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • 6 oz. beef or pork (optional)*


  1. Chop up all your veggies and get them ready; we are going to season and marinate the pork (of beef), spinach and mushrooms.
  2. Meat or Pork: cut into small pieces and season with soy sauce and garlic. It’s just enough soy sauce that the meat is covered. Let marinate for at least an hour if you can; the meat will taste so much better.

You can mix with your bare hands but these plastic gloves are awesome! No mess!

3. Next up, the spinach: clean & cut the spinach, boil spinach for about 4-5 minutes. Season with sesame oil and salt. Taste and set aside.

Rockin' the plastic gloves again (a different pair of course!)

4. Carrots: wash, peel & cut the carrots. Set aside.

5. Mushrooms: clean and chop the mushrooms. Season with sesame oil and salt. Set aside.

6. Onions: peel and slice.


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse in cold water. Season with sesame oil, sugar and soy sauce. Taste.
  2. In a large pan or wok over medium heat, heat vegetable (or olive) oil and 1 Tbsp sesame oil.
  3. Cook the meat.
  4. Add onion slices and garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.
  5. Add rest of vegetables and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables are half-cooked and still a bit crispy.
  6. Turn heat to low and add cooked noodles, soy sauce, and the remaining sesame oil.
  7. Mix to combine and cook for another 2 minutes. Taste.
  8. Add salt, pepper or more soy sauce if needed.
  9. If using sesame seeds, sprinkle them on at the end.

The Dish!

(Serves 4)* Thinly sliced brisket works well in this dish and Korean barbecued beef (bulgogi) is used often. In a pinch, chunks of rotisserie chicken, strips of egg, or fried tofu pieces are good protein additions.


2 thoughts on “Korean Food: Chap Chae (noodles)

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