Korean Japchae Noodles with Crispy Tofu

korean japchae noodles.JPG

I cooked these for Ella Mills from Deliciously Ella a few weeks ago and I am in love with them.  I made a similar version a few weeks back but this recipe uses an amazing crispy tofu topping.  Like many people, I find it hard to make tofu exciting without having to do lots of work to it.  This version is done in 2 minutes and adds a wonderful “meaty” texture to the dish.  You can fry them another minute to make them extra crunchy.  As I mentioned on Ella’s video, this is all about the sauce and its also great with roast vegetable salads and rice bowls.  Japchae (“jap" meaning mix and “chae” meaning vegetable) is a classic Korean dish and often uses mushrooms and carrots so please feel free to throw in whatever veg you have in the fridge.   This is definitely more of a fusion of the classic recipe and I have adapted it!

This has the added bonus of being a one pan recipe!

Please see the video Ella and I filmed together with the recipe details below!

Serves 2



150g glass/cellophane noodles (like these) or rice noodles would work too

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 medium aubergine, cut into chunks

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, thinly sliced lengthways 

1 garlic clove, grated

150g white cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1/3 of a cabbage)

handful baby spinach

handful chopped cashews

1 tbsp sesame seeds

handful coriander, roughly chopped

1 lime for garnishing, optional

For the crispy tofu

1 tbsp sunflower oil/coconut oil

120g firm tofu (I used this brand)

pinch of dried chilli flakes

sea salt and black pepper

For the sesame seed marinade

4 tbsp soya sauce (I used tamari which is gluten-free)

4 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp mirin wine

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp grated ginger (about a large thumb)

Zest and juice of 1 lime

Set a large non-stick frying pan on a medium to high heat and pour in the sunflower oil.  Next add in the chopped aubergine and fry everything for about 5 minutes until it has softened.  You can start chopping up the other veg while this fries.  I used a mandoline for speed and making sure that everything is thinly sliced.  Then add in the pepper and red onion frying for 2 minutes before grating on the garlic clove.  Next add in the chopped cabbage and leave to fry for another 5 minutes or until everything has reduced in size and softened.  Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime juice before removing from the heat.

While the veg is frying you can make the marinade.  Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together.  Taste to check the seasoning.  It should taste zingy, fresh, a little sour with a touch of sweetness from the maple syrup.  Put to one side.

Put the noodles into a bowl and cover in newly boiled water leaving for about 4 minutes.  The thin type of noodle takes about 4 minutes to cook and anything thicker will take a few more minutes.  Drain and add to a large bowl.  Pour over the sautéed veg from the pan, roughly chopped spinach, sesame marinade and toss everything together.

Using the same frying pan without washing, set to a medium to high heat and add one tablespoon of oil.  Using the larger grater side, grate the firm tofu straight into the pan.  Season generously with salt, pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes.  Fry for about 2 minutes or until they start to crisp up and colour a little.  Then remove from the heat.  Serve the noodles with a handful of chopped nuts, coriander, sesame seeds on top and the crispy tofu.  

This lasts for a few days in the fridge and you could prep it for a dinner party.  I would warm everything in a pan and mix in the sauce, garnishes just before serving.  Also do the tofu fresh on the day as it is best just after cooking!

Please let me know if you try it as would LOVE to hear your comments!

Nina ParkerComment