Jajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce) (Korean Bapsang)
Jajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce) is a huge part of Korean food culture. Everyone loves it. Deeply embedded in the childhood memories of most Koreans, it is a well-loved dish that parents often treat their children to on special occasions, such as graduation, exam days and birthdays.
If you have the Korean black bean paste called chunjang, this dish is very easy to make at home. The black bean paste is first fried in oil. This process helps remove the bitter taste of the bean paste. The fried (or roasted) black bean paste is called jjajang. You can buy either one from most Korean markets. A little bit of sugar is important to balance out the bitterness and saltiness of the black bean paste. Pork is the classic option for the meat, but you can substitute it with any meat or seafood. The typical vegetables added are onion, cabbage, zucchini, and potato. I used good chicken stock to give the sauce extra flavor, but water is fine, too.
● 2-3 servings of jajangmyeon/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)
● 100 grams pork loin
● 1 tablespoon rice wine (or mirim)
● 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
● Salt and pepper
● 1 large onion
● 100 grams green cabbage
● 1/2 zucchini (about 100 grams)
● 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable oil)
● Cucumber matchsticks or cooked green peas for garnish (optional)
● 1 cup chicken stock (or water)
● 1 tablespoon potato or corn starch, dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
Have a pot of water ready to cook the noodles. Turn the heat on when you start cooking the meat. This way you will have the boiling water ready for cooking the noodles by the time the sauce is done.
Prepare the pork and vegetables by dicing them into about 1.5-centimeter cubes. Marinate the pork with a tablespoon of rice wine (or mirim), ginger, and salt and pepper while preparing the vegetables.
Add the black bean paste to a small saucepan with the oil, sugar and optional oyster sauce. Fry it over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. (If using pre-fried or 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 has 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 optional cucumber matchsticks or cooked green peas.
By Ro Hyo-sun
For more recipes, visit www.koreanbapsang.com.