How to make Jjajangmyun, black bean noodles
Before McDonald's landed in Korea or Pizza Hut invaded with Bulgogi pizza to change the taste buds of Korean children from kimchi pancakes to pizza, there was a noodle dish called “Jjajangmyun (짜장면)“.
Jjajangmyun used to be the all-time Korean kid’s favorite food. At least to me, it was. The dish was known as the special treat for the children when they had done something really good, like getting an A on their school report or finishing their piano lesson to a certain level. It is a nostalgic food for every Korean above 30+ years old.
I don’t remember my mom making these noodles at home. She never bothered to make it because it was easily, quickly, and inexpensively accessible. Like a box of pizza that we order as a take-out these days, this Jjajangmyun was often delivered to everyone’s home.
Jjajangmyun is actually a Chinese noodle dish, made with black bean paste in the sauce. For some reason the dish has evolved a little differently in Korea than it was in China, and it became very popular among Koreans.
If you don’t have the Korean style Chinese restaurants in your area, you will be glad that you found this recipe. It is quite easy to make. You will also find the instructions on my blog, Beyond Kimchee, as well.
First you will need some cubed pork (about 1/2″ in size). Any pork cut is okay-la.
Dice your vegetables, all in cubed shapes. Cabbage, onion, potato, and zucchini are my chosen ones.
Now, there are two types of black bean base sauce. One is in powdered form and the other in paste. My advice? Get the paste. Although the powder is easier to cook with, I found the paste yields better taste.
You want to fry the paste in prior to make sauce. That way it will remove some bitterness of the black bean paste. It looks like there’s awful amounts of oil, but the sauce doesn’t soak up much oil. Fry the paste with 1 tablespoon of sugar for 3-4 minutes over the medium heat. As you see, the oil and the paste don’t mingle together.
With a slotted spoon transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside. Discard oil in the pan except 1 tablespoonful to remain.
NOTE : You can find Korean black bean pastes that have been pre-roasted in most Korean stores these days. Using the pre-roasted paste will eliminate this frying step. How nice!
Saute your pork until they are no longer shy in pink.
Dump all your vegetables and continue to saute 2-3 minutes.
Return your black bean paste and 1.5 cup of water to the pan. Add more water if you prefer thinner sauce.
I sometimes add a little bit oyster sauce to bring more flavor. Stir the sauce well to incorporate. Bring to boil first, then simmer for 3-5 minutes or until they are tender.
Dissolve corn starch in water.
And add to the pot. Stir and continue to cook, about 2-3 minutes. The sauce will thicken.
Here it is, the beautifully thickened Jjajangmyun sauce!
Oh, do you feel the dark side of the force? I do.
Here are Jjajangmyun noodles. You will find them in a freezer section of Korean stores. Or you can use any thick wheat noodles, even spaghetti or fettuccine.
Add to the boiling water and cook according to your package direction, about 6 minutes.
Drain. I like to rinse them with hot water. My gluten-loaded noodles are ready to take action.
Place these chewy noodles in a large shallow bowl and pour the sauce over. Mix like crazy with your chopsticks....and eat.
You will absolutely need some napkins, many actually. Nothing is grosser than seeing a grown-up with the *Jjajangmyun mustache* around his/her mouth. Imagine the “Got milk?” ads in the 90’s?
I enjoyed watching a recent Korean drama called Punch. In many episodes there were scenes where the two main actors were eating Jjajangmyun together. I watched those episodes very late at night when I was slightly hungry. And let me tell you...it was like torture! Oh, the sound of slurping the noodles...!!!!
See Kim Rae Won in the trilling melodrama Punch:
It is not easy to eat this dark-forced noodles without making the slurping noise but, hey! that is life. People will understand.
Hope you get to try this recipe. It will make you and your family very happy.
Giving my Jjajangmyun love to you... The recipe is below!
Jjajangmyun, the black bean noodles
- 4 tablespoon black bean paste (춘장, choonjang)
- 4 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- ½ lb pork, diced to ½" cubes
- ¼ cabbage, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- ½ zucchini, diced to ½" cubes
- 1 small russet potato, diced ½" cubes
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, optional
- 1½ cup water or more if you desire thinner sauce
- 2 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 3 tablespoon water
- salt or soy sauce to season if needed
- ½ cucumber, julienne thinly for garnish
- In a wok or skillet, heat oil over medium heat, add the bean paste and sugar and stir fry together for 3-4 minutes. The oil and the paste won't get mixed. Using a slotted spoon, scoop up the paste to drain the oil and transfer to a bowl. Set aside. If you are using pre-roasted paste, you can skip this step.
- Discard the rest of oil except 1 tablespoon remaining in a skillet. Add the pork and cook until no longer in pink. Add cabbage, onion, zucchini, and potato and stir fry until somewhat soft.
- Add the black bean paste back to the skillet and mix. Add oyster sauce if your desire. Pour 1½ cup of water and bring everything to boil, reduce the heat to simmer until everything is tender yet retain their shape, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt or soy sauce if needed.
- Mix corn starch with 3 tablespoon water and add to the skillet. The sauce will thicken within minutes. Remove from the heat
- Meanwhile bring a pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook according to the package direction, usually about 6-7 minutes.
- Drain the noodles and rinse once with hot water to remove excess starch.
- Place noodles in a large shallow individual serving bowl and pour the sauce over. Garnish with cucumber slices. Serve hot.