What is jjajangmyeon (짜장면)?
Jjajangmyeon is a delicious Korean-Chinese noodle dish! This dish is often served on special occasions such as graduations, birthdays and the day you move into that brand spanking new apartment. Most recently the noodles are being eaten by singleton’s on the unofficial holiday Black day 블랙데이 (April 14th.) Of course, it’s not only eaten by single people it’s enjoyed by all.
It is made with black bean paste called chunjang and often uses pork but you can use beef or just vegetables to make it vegetarian.
Chunjang is made from salty fermented soybean. The paste has a slightly bitter taste, so adding sugar makes it delicious when it’s black bean sauce. An alternative to this Korean black bean paste is Korean black bean sauce powder. It is easier to use than the paste as all you need to do is dissolve the powder with water.
Jjajangmyeon comes in many variations:
Gan-jjajang (간짜장) – A drier sauce that involves not adding the stock or starch substance.
Jaengban-jjajang (쟁반짜장) – This jjajangmyeon, the part-boiled noodles are stir-fried in the wok with the sauce and its served on plate instead of a bowl. Jaengban means ‘plate ‘ in Korean.
Yuni-jjajang (유니짜장) – It’s made with ground meat instead of the diced meat.
White jjajang – using a white sauce (so you could choose this if you’re wearing white!) it is less oily and easier to digest.
Chinatown in Incheon is the place to go for jjajangmyeon. It’s the place that it really became the dish that we know today. Jjajangmyeon, originated in Incheon, the history dates back to 1883. With Korea opening to the world, many foreigners came to the country, arriving from a variety of nations. Among them were many people from Shandong and other Chinese provinces who came to cook what is now called jakjangmyeon, a type of noodles mixed with fermented soybeans. After liberation in 1945, jakjangmyeon went through some gradual changes, with the addition of meat, vegetables and caramel as it adapted to satisfy the Korean palette, and finally became today’s jjajangmyeon.
- 12 – 14 ounces fresh jjajangmyeon/udon noodles
- 5 tablespoons Korean black bean paste (chunjang or jjajang)
- 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable oil)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
- 4 ounces pork loin
- 1 tablespoon rice wine (or mirin)
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- salt and pepper.
- 1 large onion.
- 4 ounces cabbage.
- 1/2 zucchini (about 4 ounces.)
- 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable oil.)
- cucumber matchsticks for garnish (optional.)
- 1 cup chicken stock (or water.)
- 1 tablespoon potato or corn starch (dissolved in 1/4 cup of water.)
- 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (for decoration.)
- Boil a pot of water to cook the noodles, turn the heat on when you start cooking the meat. This way the water will be ready, for cooking the noodles, by the time the sauce is done.
- Prepare the pork and vegetables by cutting them into 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes. Marinate the pork with a tablespoon of rice wine (or mirin), ginger, salt and pepper while preparing the vegetables.
- Add the black bean paste to a small saucepan with the oil, sugar, and the optional oyster sauce. Fry it over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly. (If using pre-fried/roasted black bean paste, you can skip this process. Just add the sugar and the optional oyster sauce when stirring in the bean paste.)
- Heat a large pan with a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and stir-fry until no longer pink. Add the vegetables and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the black bean paste and mix everything together until all the meat and vegetables are coated well with the paste.
- Pour in the stock (or water) and bring it to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir in the dissolved starch and cook briefly until the sauce is thickened. Add more sugar to taste.
- Add the noodles to the boiling water. Cook according to the package instructions and drain. Do not overcook. The noodles should have a firm bite to them. Place a serving size of noodles in each bowl. Spoon the sauce over the noodles and garnish with the optional cucumber matchsticks and some sesame seeds.
- Serve with a banchan (side dish) of pickled radish and enjoy!!
Featured image: ©Jajjangmyeon, 03.03.2018, www.inspiremekorea.com