Korean Zucchini Noodles Recipe
What you’ll learn in this Korean Zucchini Noodles recipe:
- How to cook classic Korean Japchae Noodles recipe, substituting spiralized zucchini noodles for the traditional sweet potato noodles.
- Get the best flavor by cooking the ingredients separately in the stir fry.
- How to prevent mushy zucchini noodles – with clear photos on when to stop cooking
Spiral noodles are all the rage right now. We’ve been using a spiralizer in our kitchen way before it became popular, with the Joyce Chen model, to make daikon spirals for serving with sushi.
When using the spiralizer to cut zucchini noodles “zoodles,” it’s easy to over cook the zucchini and end up with a mushy mess. I’ll show you how to cook the zucchini noodles for perfect texture and flavor for Korean Zucchini Noodles recipe. If you want the traditional Korean Japchae recipe, with sweet potato noodles, click here.
How we make Zucchini Noodles
To make a quick zucchini noodle recipe, we normally just use the inexpensive $10 Oxo Julienne Peeler, which is affordable, small, easy to clean and works like a champ. Watch my video review of several different spiralizers.
For this recipe, we tested out the “Inspiralizer,” a product from Ali Mafucci of Inspiralized. We recently reviewed her cookbook and made Korean Bi Bim Bap with spiralized daikon. Could her $49.95 (Price is now $34.95) machine rival the 4-blade Paderno powerhouse machine or match the ease and convenience of the sub-$10 Oxo julienne peeler?
One of my gripes about the Paderno is that there are too many parts. It’s confusing to assemble, a pain to wash and store. The handle falls off too easily and the entire thing is not designed very well. The Inspiralizer is lightweight at 1.5 pounds, no assembly required, one-piece and smaller than the Paderno.
It’s built-in suction cups allow you to place the machine anywhere on the table, not just at the end of the table This makes using the spiralizer more comfortable, and the spiralized noodles can fall directly on a cutting board or bowl, without spilling on the ground.
The built-in blade with teeth means no cartridges to install and store. Just turn the knob to get to your desired size.
Inspiralizer’s small width core stabilizer means very little waste. It’s firm enough to hold even skinny carrots. From our 1-1/2″ diameter zucchini, this was all that was left:
I’ve always had trouble with the Paderno and Oxo peeler with skinny carrots. This carrot is about 1″ wide.
The Inspiralizer does a better job than the Paderno with the skinny carrot. About half of the carrot spiralized,
The other half spiralized into curls. It was just too skinny to go through the teeth properly.
Those curly pieces were just saved for a salad.
In all, not bad. Here is what’s leftover from a 1″ diameter carrot. I’d recommend using a fatter carrot.
The Inspiralizer is more expensive than many of the spiralizers on the market. Though, I can remember just a year ago, the prices were nearly $80 for a Paderno. Prices have been falling due to increased competition. Is the Inspiralizer worth the extra $5-$10 over these competitors? If you’re a big spiralizer fan, then absolutely. Get the Inspiralizer. I recommend the product because of Ali. She’s a real person with a real email address and one of the pioneers of spiralizing vegetables. If you ever had any questions or problems, I know that Ali and her team would take care of you.
Plus, the machine is just designed better. The one-piece machine easy to clean, I just used a long-handled scrub brush with warm soapy water. The handle doesn’t fall off. The blade and teeth are all built in. No extra cartridges to wash and store. No assembly. Lightweight and smaller footprint.
If you only make zucchini or carrot noodles once in a while, and don’t care about them being nice and curly, grab the $9.95 Oxo Julienne Peeler. It fits in your drawer, is easy to use (watch my video on how to safely use the Oxo Julienne Peeler with carrots and zucchini).
Spiralized Korean Zucchini Noodles Recipe
The first step to making the Korean Zucchini Noodles recipe is to spiralize 3 medium zucchini with the 1/8-inch “spaghetti” setting. Also spiralize one small carrot.
The best noodle stir fries require you to cook ingredients separately. This is to keep all the flavors of each ingredient distinct (you want your zucchini to taste like zucchini, and not just a mishmash of flavors!) Plus, each ingredient has a different cooking time. The method I will show you will prevent a soggy, mushy mess of a stir fry, especially with using zucchini noodles.
For our dish, we have 4 separate groups of ingredients:
- Zucchini Noodles
- Meat + Onions
We will cook each of these groups separately. But, don’t worry, the recipe comes together very quickly!
Marinate the Meat + Onion
Before we start the frying, let’s create the main sauce with soy sauce, honey and Asian sesame oil. Use 1/3 of this sauce as a marinade for the meat and onions, and the other half to be added as the sauce for the stir fry.
In a bowl, add thinly sliced onions and the sliced sirloin. Pour in just half of the sauce and mix well. Marinate on the counter while you proceed with the rest of the recipe.
What kind of beef? I like using sliced sirloin. Any lean steak will work just fine. You can use flank steak as well (just remember to slice ACROSS the grain). Some supermarkets will sell pre-sliced steak for cheesesteak sandwiches. This is fine as well.
Why marinate onion? Onion and beef can fry together at the same time, over hight heat. The marinade will also help caramelize the onions faster and provide more flavor, too.
Fry the Egg
The first ingredient to get fried is the beaten egg. Heat a non-stick wok or large saute pan with high sides with just a tiny bit of cooking oil. When hot, add in the beaten egg and tilt pan so that the egg can cook in a thin, even layer. If you don’t have a wok or large saute pan, you’re better off using a large pot vs. a shallow frying pan to prevent the ingredients from flying out of the pan during the stir fry.
After the egg is cooked, cut into julienne strips.
The egg is placed into a large serving bowl or platter.
Stir Fry the Vegetables
The same pan (no need to wash, you can wipe with paper towel if you wish) goes back to the stove with a little more cooking oil.
Next up is the green onions, mushrooms, carrot and garlic for 30 seconds.
Now add in the baby spinach. I used a baby spinach/baby kale mixture and pour in 1/3 of the soy/honey.sesame oil mixture.
After the greens are bright green and just wilted, remove them to the same bowl as the egg.
Stir Fry the Zucchini Noodles
Return the same pan to the stove. Add a little more cooking oil. Now it’s time to cook the zucchini noodles.
Stir fry them until the dark green of the skin turns bright green, but that the zucchini noodles still hold some of the curl and shape. You don’t want to over cook the zucchini, or it will turn mushy. Pour in the remaining soy/honey/sesame oil mixture and toss well to distribute evenly.
See the color change and how they still hold some of their shape? Give a zucchini noodle a taste.
Remove the zucchini noodles to a separate plate or bowl.
Stir Fry the Meat + Onion
Return same pan to stove, swirl in a little cooking oil. Add the meat and onions to the pan and spread everything out over the surface of pan so that we can cook evenly and faster.
If you leave the meat and onions alone, and resist the temptation to keep tossing them in the pan, they’ll caramelize much better. Just spread everything out in the pan, leave it to cook without touching until just the centers of the meat are red/pink, then flip.
Cook the other side.
Once the meat is cooked through, it’s now time to put the dish together. Toss all of the ingredients together in the wok, taste the zucchini noodles and add more soy sauce if you’d like.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
Completed Korean Zucchini Noodles recipe.
The recipe looks long, but in reality, this is a very simple, fast recipe that cooks in 10 minutes. I detail every step so that you can have visual clues to prevent overcooking.
Beef: I like using lean sirloin, sliced very thinly. You can use pre-sliced steak that the butcher sells for cheesesteak sandwiches. For a shortcut, you can use ground beef too. Onion: Make sure you slice the onions very thin. They'll cook the same time as the beef, so if your onion is very thick, they won't cook through as well.
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
- 1/2 pound lean beef very thinly sliced
- 1/2 onion very thinly sliced
- 1 egg beaten
- 3 medium zucchini about 18 ounces total
- 1 medium carrot
- 2 green onion green parts only, cut into 1" lengths
- 2 garlic cloves finely minced
- 4-5 fresh mushrooms very thinly sliced
- 6 ounces fresh baby spinach and/or baby kale
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided canola or vegetable oil
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. In a large bowl, combine the beef and the onions. Pour in just 1/3 of the soy/honey/sesame oil mixture (and reserve the rest of the sauce for later). Set beef/onions aside to marinate on the counter while you prepare the rest of recipe.
Using a spiralizer on "spaghetti" setting (about 1/8-inch), spiralize the zucchini. Cut the zucchini noodle strands into easy-to-eat lengths, then set zucchini aside. Spiralize the carrots using the same setting. Cut carrot strands into 2" lengths to make it easier to stir fry. Gather all the remaining ingredients and have them nearby the stove for easy access. The rest of this recipe only takes 10 minutes!
Heat a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, swirl in a little cooking oil. Pour in the beaten egg and tilt the pan so that the egg cooks in a thin, even layer. Cook until set on the edges and bottom, flip the egg and cook until firm. Remove egg to cutting board and julienne into thin strips. Place egg strips into a large serving bowl or platter.
Give the pan a good wipe if needed, return to medium-high heat. When hot, swirl in some cooking oil. Add in the green onions, garlic, mushrooms, spiralized carrots. Stir fry for 30 seconds until the green onions are bright green and the carrots have softened slightly. Add in the spinach/kale and stir fry for 30 seconds until the leaves have softened. Remember the reserved soy/honey/sesame oil sauce we set aside? Pour in just half of that sauce and toss well. Remove the vegetables to the large serving bowl with the egg.
Give the pan a good wipe if needed, return to medium-high heat. When hot, swirl in cooking oil. Add in the zucchini noodles and stir fry until the skin of zucchini is vivid green, and the zucchini begins to turn transluscent. The zucchini should still hold some of its curly shape. Take care not to overcook the zucchini. Pour in the last of the soy/honey/sesame oil sauce. Toss very well and let the zucchini absorb some of the sauce. Remove the zucchini noodles to a large bowl.
Give the pan a good wipe, return to HIGH heat. When hot, swirl in cooking oil. Add in the beef and onion to the pan, use your spatula to spread out the ingredients all over the pan. Let cook, undisturbed for 15-30 seconds, until the edges of the beef turn brown, but is still red in the middle. Toss and flip the beef and onions, stir fry until cooked to your liking.
Now lets add everything back into the pan. Add in the egg, vegetables, zucchini noodles. Toss well and give it a taste. Season with additional soy sauce, if needed. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.