The Secret To My Chapchae / Japchae

Like many cooks, I like eyeballing and substituting ingredients. For tonight’s dinner, I wanted to use a pack of thick vermicelli noodles that Mike purchased by accident. I also had a pack of sukiyaki meat, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make chapchae. I had never made this before so I searched for a recipe and found this. And just as luck would have it, I was out of soy sauce. I rummaged through my pantry and remembered this precious bottle that was introduced to me in Indonesia.

Kecap Pedas can be purchased in any Indonesian grocery/supermarket. If you know anyone going to Indonesia, ask them to get you a bottle..or two.

Kecap Pedas is reminiscent of oyster sauce, but contains a lot of chili. My friend, Dedee, who introduced this condiment to me used it as a marinade for chicken and it was delicious! Kecap Pedas goes well with dishes that contain ginger and garlic, so keep that in mind when you feel like experimenting. I used this as a substitute for the soy sauce and the chapchae turned out really well.  It contains lots of salt so you might want to hold back on adding any more. Another “secret” that I discovered was to soak the vermicelli noodles in the chapchae sauce, to give it a deeper flavor.


  • 3 tbsp. Kecap Pedas
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (to neutralize the sweetness of the Kecap Pedas)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Combine with cooked vermicelli noodles and soak for an hour. 


  • 200 g. sukiyaki beef
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 100 g. snow peas (or broccoli)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 fresh kaffir lime leaf (this is optional, but adds a really interesting flavor to the dish)
  • freshly ground pepper

In a large pan, sauté onions, garlic and ginger in sesame oil for about 3-5 minutes.  Add snow peas, or your preferred vegetable (broccoli or baby corn are two good options). Quickly sauté and add beef. Remove pan from heat once meat is cooked through. Combine with noodles and serve hot, with a side of kimchi. 

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