Though we associate this Korean dish with its signature sweet potato starch glass noodles, the name japchae actually translates as “mixed vegetables,” which makes it all the more perfect for healing diets like the Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP)! I’d been playing around with the flavors for this elimination phase compliant version of the dish for a while and was finally inspired to perfect it in honor of the 2018 Winter Olympics currently taking place in South Korea.
Quick diversion… Who else is mesmerized by the incredible feats of Olympians? I am just in awe of what they can do, particularly when it comes to the winter sports! Oh, I like the summer games, but they just don’t wow me quite as much. I can run and swim… maybe not as fast as Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, but the basic activity is the same, right? But then I turn on the Winter Olympics and see Chloe Kim “landing a backside air, frontside 1080, cab 720, frontside 900, McTwist and frontside inverted 720” (that is not a joke, I copied that directly from today’s news report on her gold medal performance in the half pipe) and I am rendered speechless. Not only can I not imagine doing that, I can’t even tell you what any of it means!
Just in case you missed it…
Notes on ingredients
Now, back to the food… I was first introduced to japchae by my friend Russ Crandall as he included a recipe for it in his (much dog-eared) debut cookbook The Ancestral Table. This recipe is definitely inspired by that one, but required a few tweaks in order to be made AIP-friendly.
But one thing that doesn’t need any tweaking is the star of the dish, the glass noodles! They are made from just one ingredient, sweet potato starch, which makes them not only gluten-free, but also grain-free and therefore acceptable for any stage of the Paleo autoimmune protocol. Unfortunately, you may need to do a little searching to find them.
This is the brand I used and can buy them at my local Wegman’s grocery store. If you don’t have the luxury of living near a grocery store with a well stocked “international” section, try Asian specialty markets, where they may be called “dangmyun.” If that doesn’t work for you, then ordering them online is your next best option. As you see below, Amazon has several different brands.
The vegetables included in japchae can vary and my research suggests carrots, spinach or other greens, green onions, and red bell peppers are common, along with shiitake or oyster mushrooms. Beef and pork are both commonly used and the dish is usually garnished with toasted sesame seeds and chili threads, both of which are omitted during the AIP elimination phase but you could add if you have successfully reintroduced them.
AIP Japchae Recipe
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried ground ginger
- ¼ cup bone broth
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 pound grass fed New York strip steak, cut into strips
- 2-3 cups chopped collard greens, stem removed
- 6 ounces sweet potato noodles
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 carrots, julienned
- 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 4 green onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
- Mix coconut aminos, avocado oil, vinegar, salt, garlic powder, and ginger in a small bowl. Take half of the mixture and combine with bone broth and honey and set aside. Toss the beef pieces in the other half of the mixture and allow to marinate while you prepare the vegetables and noodles.
- In large saucepan or stock pot, bring water to boil. Boil the collard greens for 5 minutes, then remove and set aside.
- In same water, boil noodles for 6 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with a little extra avocado oil to prevent from sticking. Set aside.
- In a wok or large skillet over medium high heat, melt and heat coconut oil until shimmering. Add beef and stir fry until cooked through (about 3 minutes) then remove and set aside. Do not clean pan.
- Add carrots, mushrooms, and green onions to same pan and stir fry until slightly soft (about 3 minutes).
- Add noodles, bok choy, beef, and the sauce created in step one. Stir fry until sauce has cooked down and everything is hot (2-3 minutes). Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Like this recipe and want to try some more AIP-friendly Korean cuisine? Try these…
- Vegetable Pancake (Pajeon)
- Mandoo Dumplings
- Seafood Pancake (Haemul Pajeon)
- Korean Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)
- Beef and Seaweed Stew
- Korean Pork Ribs
Wondering how else to use glass noodles? Try this recipe I created for AIP beef stroganoff and check out this version of japchae from my friend Alex of Don’t Eat the Spatula for different twist on the same dish!