Let me introduce you to jjajangmyeon. Pronounced [Ja, or, Cha} [Jang] [Myun, or Myeon].
Wikipedia describes it as “Jajangmyeon (also spelled jjajangmyeon; 자장면; 짜장면) is a popular Korean dish, derived from the Chinese dish zha jiang mian. It consists of wheat noodles topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang (a salty black soybean paste), diced meat and vegetables, and sometimes also seafood. Jajang (also spelled jjajang), the name of the sauce, is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters 炸醬, which literally means “fried sauce.” Myeon (also spelled myun) means “noodle”.”
Jjajangmyeon is everyone’s favorite food in Korea. This dish reminds me of my childhood, and Korean soap operas. Why soap operas you ask? Because whenever I happen to catch one (it’s rare here in the States) everyone on those shows are always chowing down on giant bowls of jjajanmyeon goodness. And for some reason, I always think “why aren’t their faces covered in brown sauce???” and “dang, I want that!!!”. Jjajangmyeon was originally a Chinese dish, but Korea has really made it their own for over 100 years. In fact, you can find it in nearly every Chinese restaurant in Korea (basically a Korean restaurant that is referred to as Chinese). Call a restaurant nearby and they’ll deliver a fresh bowl of jjajangmyeon, along with various pickled veggies (kimchee, radish, etc.) to accompany the dish, in a tin box, to your door, within 30 minutes. Sweet, right? Seriously, this is my favorite Korean dish! When visiting Korea last year, my aunt asked if there was a dish I had to eat while in Korea and I requested jjajangmyeon, of course!
So last night, I made this dish, at Josh’s request, and finally had a chance to take photos for the blog. It’s not as easy as it seems to snap photos while preparing a meal.
Here’s how you can make this easy and delicious meal in your home.
Jal-mogo-saeyo (“happy eating”)!
1 package Korean fresh or dried vermicelli noodles
5 tbs Korean black bean paste
1/2 lbs pork belly – diced medium
1 large yellow or white onion – diced large
2 carrots – diced medium
1 small potato – diced medium
1 small sweet potato or yam – diced medium
1 medium zucchini – diced medium
2 large cloves of garlic – minced
1 sprig of green onion – thinly sliced
1/2 cup cucumber – julienned
1 tbs sesame oil
2-3 tbs potato starch
1 tbs sugar
Salt to taste
Note: you can use any combination of vegetables for this dish, as well as omitting the pork.
Makes 4 servings
I used a 5.5 quart dutch oven, but you can use a stock pot or large sauce pan if you don’t have a dutch oven. Cook the pork over medium-low heat until it becomes golden brown in color and a bit crispy. Remove all fat from the pork and set aside or discard.The next step is to add in your vegetables, but you have to add the vegetables in phases because they all have different cooking variances. Whereas, if you throw everything in the pot at once, you may end up with under cooked onions and potatoes and over cooked zucchini. Also, you’ll want to add enough water to cover the vegetables to activate the cooking process without using cooking oil. Add the white/yellow onions, carrots, and garlic to the pot. Simmer over medium heat until onions and carrots are cooked half way to tender, stirring occasionally. Then add in the potatoes and sweet potatoes and cook until these are nearly tender. Lastly, add the zucchini to the mixture.While the veggies continue to simmer, bring a large pot of water to a roaring boil and cook your noodles. I prefer to use fresh noodles. They cook faster and honestly, they taste better and have a wonderfully chewy texture.Now back to the veggie mixture. At this point, all the vegetables should be cooked, but not over cooked to the point they’re “melting”. Stir in the black bean paste and sesame oil until evenly distributed throughout. Now taste test the sauce and add the sugar and salt to your preference. You wont need a lot of salt, as the black bean paste is plenty salty already. Once the contents of the pot are seasoned to your desired liking, mix a cup of cold water with the potato starch and add this liquid to thicken the pot. You may also use cornstarch, but I find that the potato starch tends to hold up better. Your sauce should be thick enough to where it wouldn’t sink to the bottom of the bowl when ladled over the noodles.You have just made jjajang! Now once the noodles are done cooking, per the instructions on the package, drain and rinse them in cold water for a few seconds (only a few seconds or the noodles will get too cold). The cold rinse process makes the noodles nice and chewy. Now assemble; noodles in a large bowl, topped with jjajang, then garnished with green onions and cucumbers. There you have it folks, jjajangmyeon!