Japchae is my first foray into home-cooked Korean food. Having eaten in some great restaurants, I wanted to create an authentic tasting dish. A little research and recipe testing revealed it was not that daunting, simply a matter of having the right ingredients and treating those ingredients with care.
This recipe may seem like a labour of love, but taking a little time and effort does make a difference to the finished dish. Do not be tempted to throw everything in together. The cooking time for each ingredient varies, so do stir-fry the ingredients separately. If you cannot find fresh shiitake mushrooms, you can use dried shiitake but you will need to soak them for a few hours beforehand. It is definitely worth sourcing the sweet potato noodles or dangmyeon. They can be found easily online or from Asian food stores. The slightly slippery, chewy texture really adds to the dish and although you could substitute other noodles, I am not sure it would be quite the same.