Korean Jajangmyeon (자짱면)

Jajangmyun 2

Jajangmyeon (or Jajangmyun) originated from the Chinese (Beijing) version of Zhajiangmian (炸酱面), which means ‘noodles with fried sauce’. The key difference between the two versions is the type of bean paste used to cook the sauce: the Chinese uses fermented brown soybean paste which is mainly salty; the Koreans use fermented black soybean paste which includes caramel and is hence not as salty. The secondary difference would be the ingredients added into the sauce: the former has their sauce stir-fried with minced meat; the Koreans fry theirs with loads of vegetables.

So… what made us want to cook this dish? The guy and I are now at episode 99 of Running Man, and we can’t count how many times it’s been since we’ve watched the hosts eat jajangmyeon. The way they slurp up the black greasy noodles bathed in thick sauce is just too irresistible for us. We badly needed to know how this Korean dish tastes like and why the Koreans love them so much.

Ingredients:

  • Pork belly: 225g
  • Cornstarch: 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp
  • Korean sesame oil: 2 tsp + 2 tbsp
  • Korean radish (half green & half white): 1, diced
  • Potato: 1, diced
  • Small cabbage: 1, sliced
  • Onion: 2, sliced
  • Zucchini: 1/2, diced
  • Carrot: 1 1/2, diced
  • Vegetable oil: 1 tbsp
  • Black soybean paste (춘장): 1/3 cup
  • Sugar: 2 tbsp
  • Water: 1 1/2 cups
  • Flat, thick white wheat noodles (우동): 800g
  • Cornstarch mixture: 2 tbsp cornstarch + 1/3 cup water

Method:

  1. Coat pork belly evenly with 1 tbsp cornstarch & 2 tsp sesame oil.
  2. Fry pork belly in wok till golden brown. Remove from heat & set aside.
  3. Leave remaining oil from pork belly in wok. Fry radish & potato for 1 min.
  4. Add in cabbage, onion, zucchini & carrot. Stir fry for 5 min till potato starts to turn translucent.
  5. Make a hole in the middle of the wok. Add in oil & black soybean paste.
  6. Let the paste simmer for 30 seconds first. Then slowly stir in the vegetables from the side till the paste is evenly distributed.
  7. Stir in sugar, remaining sesame oil & pork belly. Add water & leave to simmer for 15 min.
  8. Meanwhile, cook noodles in boiling water. Then run the noodles under cold water to remove starch and enhance texture. Set aside.
  9. Stir in cornstarch mixture into wok & turn off heat.
  10. Scoop sauce onto noodles. Garnish with sesame seeds and/or sliced cucumber to serve.

Jajangmyun 1

Tricks:

  • The Korean sesame oil does indeed exude a different type of fragrance than the Chinese one, giving the dish a more authentic Korean taste.
  • Serve with additional side dishes like pickled radishes and kimchi to eat this just like the Koreans do!
  • As recommended by Maangchi, from which this recipe is adapted, this sauce also tastes great served with rice instead of noodles. Try it!

Serving:
4 – 5 persons

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