Jjajangmyeon (Noodles in Black Bean Sauce)

My desire to learn to cook Jjajangmyeon actually came from a K-drama I watched awhile ago. One of the characters owned a Chinese restaurant in Seoul that was famous for fast and delicious jjajangmyeon, and it looked so tasty. Prior to this experiment, I had never had this dish before; and when my fiance and I eat Korean food, it’s generally BBQ. I didn’t trust finding a restaurant that made it well, so I resorted to the internet, and my new favorite Korean blog, Maangchi.

Maangchi’s jjajangmyeon recipe is rapidly becoming a favorite food of mine. It’s rich in flavor, with a thick sauce and plenty of vegetables. It also goes great over rice instead of noodles and reheats really well. I can’t really speak to the authenticity of this dish; but if it’s anything like her other recipes, it’s definitely in the true Korean style. Regardless, it tastes amazing. Make sure to watch Maangchi’s video, as she does a great job explaining this recipe.

Ingredients:

Jjajangmyeon noodles (This was by far the most difficult ingredient to get, mostly because all the labels were in Korean. When I asked the staff at H mart which noodles were good for jjajangmyeon, they gave me a package that was instant noodles. This was a disaster, so I returned a week later to hunt out the real noodles. I’ve discovered that fresh, knife-cut Korean vermicelli noodles work wonderfully. However, I really don’t think it makes as big of a difference as I originally thought.)

1/2 lb pork belly, cut into 1/2 in cubes (I actually used thick cut bacon because I happened to have some. Pork belly will be better, but any kind of fatty pork will suffice)

1 cup of daikon or korean radish, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes

1 cup of zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes (If you watch Maangchi’s video, she isn’t actually using American zucchini. I wasn’t sure exactly what the vegetable she used was, but I used Chinese Squash. It has a similar texture and flavor to zucchini and is easy to cut into cubes)

1 cup of potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes (I actually like using Korean sweet potato for this, but any potato will work)

1 1/2 cups of onion, cut into chunks

3 tbsp oil (The recipe calls for vegetable oil; I used olive oil.)

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp Black Bean Paste (This ingredient was also confusing for me. When I got to the asian grocery, I discovered there are two kinds of black bean paste, fermented and not fermented. Use the fermented one for this dish.)

2 tbsp potato starch

1/4 cup water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame oil, optional

Prep your maize en place first, as this will help in the cooking process. The cooking of this dish goes quickly, so it helps that everything is ready. Combine the potato starch, water, and sugar; set this aside for later use. Make sure all your vegetables are diced and ready, then start heating your wok on medium-high heat.

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When the wok starts to smoke a bit, add the pork belly and stir fry until it becomes crispy. This should take 4-5 minutes.

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Pour out the excess fat produced by the pork, then add the radish and stir fry for 1 minute.

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Next, add the other vegetables. Stir fry for about 3 minutes, until the potato and onion start to look translucent.

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Push all the veggies to the side of the wok, making a donut shape with a hole in the middle of the veggies. Add the 3 tbsp of oil and the black bean paste into the middle. Stir rapidly until the sauce begins to bubble, then bring the other ingredients into the middle and stir until everything is covered in the black paste. Add 2 cups of water to the wok and cover, letting it boil for 10 minutes.

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After the 10 minutes, check that the radish and potato are done. If they are, add the potato starch mixture, stirring constantly until fully incorporated. Continue stirring while the sauce thickens. When it reaches the desired consistency, it’s ready to serve.

To serve the jjajangmyeon, place a healthy scoop into a bowl over noodles or rice (follow the cooking instructions on the noodles for this). Drizzle with sesame oil, then mix and eat. Yum, I think I’ll make jjajangmyeon tonight…

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**NOTE: I’ve marked this dish as both Korean and Chinese. It’s actually NOT authentic Chinese, it is Korean Chinese food. The dish originates in China but is very different from the original noodle in sauce dish it’s based off of.

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