Trader Joe’s has another hit on its hands in the frozen food department. I am referring to Trader Joe’s Japchae Korean Glass Noodles and Vegetable Stir Fry. This is a well known dish in Korea and is eaten on all types of occasions but is associated with special occasions mostly.
This product was introduced in the Fall of 2021 and has come and gone over the years. Likely to do with pandemic related supply issues seeing that it is a Product of Korea.
The Trader Joe’s Korean Japchae is sold in the freezer section, usually in the area where the other frozen Asian foods are sold, next to the Trader Joe’s Chicken Fried Rice and the Trader Joe’s Kung Pao chicken.
What is Japchae?
Japchae literally means “Mixed vegetables” or something close to that in Korean. Japchae is a popular Korean dish made with sweet potato noodles (called Dangmyeon) and a variety of vegetables, such as bell peppers, carrots, and spinach. The noodles are typically stir-fried with sesame oil and soy sauce and then mixed with vegetables and sometimes beef or other protein. The dish is often garnished with sesame seeds and served with a side of rice. It is known for its colorful and attractive presentation, as well as its unique and delicious flavor.
The noodles are special in that they are transparent and look like glass threads and really don’t have much flavor. The flavor comes from all the other ingredients and sauce.
How to make Trader Joe’s Japchae
Here are the official heating instructions from the packaging:
HEAT FROM FROZEN
MICROWAVE (1200 watt):
Microwave heat times may vary depending on oven wattage.
Carefully peel back one corner of the film to allow steam to escape.
Place in microwave and heat on high for 3 minutes. Remove the film completely, and stir noodles and sauce from the bottom. Heat for an additional 2 minutes.
Stir before serving.
STOVETOP: Place 3 tablespoons of water and frozen Japchae in a skillet. Heat over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until Japchae noodles and vegetables are warmed through and added water is reduced.
I actually did the microwave preparation and put it in a bowl after I heated it through. But I think doing it in a wok would probably bring out the flavors more. It also allows you to add other ingredients, especially a protein like beef or chicken.
How Trader Joe’s Korean Japchae tasted
Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations about this product. I’ve been burned so many times with these frozen dishes. One of the worst products that Trader Joe’s sells right now is the Beef Pho. So, I just did this as an afterthought and not expecting much. I have to say that my expectations were exceeded.
This was easy enough to make and there are a lot of vegetables in this dish. But what it really lacks is a protein. If I were you I would grab some of the Trader Joe’s cooked chicken or even the vegan beefless bulgogi and stir-fry it into the noodles for a truly, amazing vegan Asian meal.
While the noodles don’t really provide much flavor (they aren’t really expected to) the vegetables and sauce are quite flavorful as is the sauce, but if you were expecting heat, there is none. I would throw in some spicy chili crunch or Siracha sauce to give it a little kick.
At 380 calories for the whole package (BTW, it’s listed at $2.99 for one box) it’s not quite enough to fill me up so the addition of more stuff like meat would help make a complete meal out of it. The problem is that the whole dish has 1120 mg of salt which is almost 50% of your daily intake of salt a day. That’s why I would hesitate to eat the whole thing.
What is my rating for Trader Joe’s Japchae?
First, this dish is both gluten-free and vegan which is hard to come by if you care about that stuff. While I loved the flavors and the flexibility you would have with Trader Joe’s Korean Japchae, I am not happy with the sodium levels. Based on that I am going to have to knock it down a couple of points, which is sad because I really wanted to give this high marks. Instead of 8 Bells, I am going to give it 6 Bells because of the high sodium. Trader Joe’s needs to re-engineer this for less sodium, then come back and re-release it.
- COOKED SWEET POTATO GLASS NOODLES (WATER, SWEET POTATO, SOY SAUCE [WATER, FERMENTED SOYBEANS, SALT, ETHYL ALCOHOL],
- BROWN CANE SUGAR, SESAME OIL, EXPELLER PRESSED CANOLA OIL)
- GREEN BELL PEPPER
- RED BELL PEPPER
- ONION OIL (EXPELLER PRESSED CANOLA OIL, ONION).
- CONTAINS SOY.