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Is Japchae Healthy? (Nutritional Value and Ingredients)

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Published on:

Korean cuisine ranges from cholesterol-building fried foods to the utmost in pristine health. If you’re trying to watch your weight or just want to eat a sensible diet, 

Korean cuisine can be a great way to do this. However, the entire menu cannot accommodate such a goal. 

So, you will have to be judicious about which dishes to consume.

Having said that, there are some excellent noodle dishes, and japchae is one. But is it healthy? 

Yes, this noodle dish is very healthy. It’s an excellent choice for those attempting to be conscientious about the foods they put into their bodies.

Japchae and Its Ingredients

Called “glass noodles,” Japchae is essentially stir-fried sweet potato starch noodles. To understand how healthy japchae can be, it’s important to know what’s in it. There are three main components: sauce, noodles, and toppings.

Sauce

What characterizes the flavor of japchae is the sauce. This is a cacophony of earthy, sweet, and savory tastes. While different people have their own variations, it basically contains things like brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds.

Sugar and oil do have the potential to be unhealthy, but this isn’t much of a concern. The amounts used are often very minuscule.

Noodles

What sets japchae apart from other noodle dishes is its squishy texture. This is due to the sweet potato starch used to create them. While these can be quite carb-heavy, it doesn’t make japchae unhealthy. It’s all in how you burn off the carbs, not the carbs in and of themselves.

Toppings

One of the best things about japchae is the toppings. Usually, a combination of vegetables melds with the sauce and noodles in the most delightful way. 

These are often mushrooms, onions, carrots, and spinach, which give the dish a nice crunchy texture.

Many people additionally have beef on top but also egg, chicken, pork, or tofu too. So, the toppings will add protein, some fat, and fiber.

What Is Japchae’s Nutritional Value?

On average, one cup of japchae has about 252 calories. This includes 9.5 grams of fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, and 200 milligrams of sodium.

Depending on the toppings, there are at least 12 grams of protein along with 32 grams of carbs.

The kicker here is the high levels of sodium in the dish. Those struggling with weight should eat this on an active day or before/after exercising.

How Do You Make Japchae?

The following recipe contains the healthiest ingredients and methods for preparing this classic Korean meal. However, you will have to buy the noodles for this recipe or find another that details how to make them.

Items You’ll Need

  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Wok or Large Frying Pan
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • Small Nonstick Frying Pan
  • Spatula
  • 3 Large Bowls
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Large Boiling Pot
  • Paper Towels
  • Strainer or Slotted Spoon

Ingredients

  • 4 oz Chicken or Tofu
  • 4 oz Sweet Potato Starch Noodles
  • 4 oz Spinach
  • 2 Shiitake Mushrooms (dried and large)
  • 4 Button Mushrooms (thin slices)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Green Onions
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds 
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup White Onion (thin slices)
  • ¾ Cup Carrot
  • ½ Cup Red Bell Pepper
  • ¼ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions & Preparation

  • Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water for two or three hours, then cut into thin strips
  • Clean and slice veggies into thin sticks along with mincing the garlic
  • Cut chicken or tofu into strips about 2½“ long by ¼“ wide
  • Marinade the protein with the shiitake mushrooms along with a clove of minced garlic, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, and ¼ tsp black pepper. Seal the bowl shut and store it in the fridge.

Cooking

  1. Separate the yolk from the white, taking care to remove the albumen. Discard the egg white.
  2. With a pinch of salt, lightly beat the egg yolk.
  3. Take the vegetable oil and heat it in a nonstick pan on medium heat. Roll the oil to coat the pan.
  4. Then wipe out all the oil, so only a thin layer of it remains, and turn off the pan.
  5. Next, put the beaten egg onto the hot pan and cook for one minute flip it and cook the other side for a minute.
  6. Remove the egg and slice it into thin strips.
  7. Bring water to a boil in the large pot and blanch spinach for about a minute remove it.
  8. Rinse spinach in cold water and then squeeze to remove excess water. Place in a large mixing bowl and blend 1 tsp sesame oil along with 1 tsp soy sauce.
  9. Now put the noodles into the boiling water, cover and occasionally stir, so they don’t stick. Cook for about seven minutes until chewy and soft.
  10. Put the noodles in another large bowl and mix them with 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp soy sauce.
  11. Heat your Wok on medium-high and add some vegetable oil along with the green onion, white onion and salt. Cook until the white onion appears translucent. Put the onions into the bowl with the noodles.
  12. Repeat this frying for the button mushrooms, carrots, red bell pepper, and end with the protein.
  13. Add the remaining ingredients into the noodles along with the spinach, including the last clove of minced garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix it all well.
  14. Finally, add the egg strips along with 1 tbsp of sesame seeds ensure you blend well and serve!

Conclusion

Japchae is a very healthy Korean dish that’s delicious and can be part of a sensible diet. But, as with anything, too much of a good thing is still overkill. 

Therefore, if you’re looking to lose a few pounds, make sure you are sparing in how much japchae you consume.

About The Author

Photo of author

Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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