When the weather gets colder, I always seem to crave comfort foods. Jajangmyeon, a Korean-Chinese noodle dish is one of those foods for me and also one of the few Asian dishes that I make on a regular basis. The funny thing is that I didn’t care too much for this dish when I was little but have acquired a taste for it as I got older. The literal translation for ‘jajang’ (also jjajang or chajang) is fried black soybean sauce and ‘myeon’ (also myun) is noodles. It is a popular “fast food” in Korea, enjoyed by both young and old. It is also a staple in the menus of many Korean-Chinese restaurants here in the United States.
I have tried several different recipes for this dish over the years including the one my mom passed down to me orally. After many trials and errors, I’ve been able to incorporate my favorite parts from these different recipes into a single recipe that I believe best appeals to my palate. Most versions of Jajangmyeon include a protein and several different vegetables. Pork is used in the traditional version while seafood versions are also very popular. I like to use both pork and seafood in mine.
1/2 to 3/4 lbs pork cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon refined rice wine (aka mirin)
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons canola oil
1 scant teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 medium onion small dice
1 medium potato small dice
1 medium zucchini small dice
1/8 green cabbage chopped
3-4 tablespoons black bean paste (jajang)
2 teaspoons mild miso paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar*
1 tablespoon cooking syrup*
1 tablespoon refined rice wine
2 to 2 1/2 cups water
starch mixture (mix 2 tablespoons of starch with 2 tablespoons of water)
1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and tail removed, cut in half crosswise
1/2 seedless cucumber julienned (optional)
1 packet of jajangmyeon noodles
For the sauce:
1) Using the marinade recipe provided above, marinate pork 1 hour ahead, if possible.
2) Dice the onion, zucchini and potato (I leave potato for last so it doesn’t turn brown.)
3) Chop the cabbage.
4) Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the wok and heat on medium-high.
5) When hot, add pork and stir fry. Cook through and set aside.
6) Add another tablespoon of oil and add onions. Add balsamic vinegar and stir fry the onions. When onions start to become translucent, transfer to a bowl.
7) Add the remaining oil along with potatoes, zucchini and cabbage. Stir fry until softened. Add onions and pork back into wok and combine.
8) Add black bean paste and miso. Stir fry for about a minute.
9) Add cooking syrup, sugar and rice wine. Stir to combine.
10) Add water and bring to a boil.
11) Add starch mixture and continue to simmer. (This will thicken the sauce.)
12) Add the shrimp and simmer until cooked thru.
For the noodles:
1) Boil water in a large pot.
2) Add the noodles when it starts to boil.
3) Boil them for about 3-4 minutes according to the instructions on the package.
4) Rinse in cold water.
1) Add a serving of noodles to a bowl. Top with sauce (amount to your liking). Garnish the top with the julienned cucumbers.
2) The noodles and sauce are to be mixed before eating.
Jajangmyeon is usually served with cubed onions and jajang sauce as well as picked radish (daikon) as side dishes. Sometimes I also like to serve kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage) with it.
Korean black bean paste and cooking syrup can be found at Korean grocery stores and most Asian markets.
The jajangmyeon noodles come in a package containing four of these bundles (pictured above). They’re found in the refrigerated section of Korean grocery stores and most Asian markets.
*You may add more or less sugar according to your taste. Cooking syrup also adds sweetness to the sauce but it also provides a nice shiny coating.
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P.S. The winner of the $340 to ASOS Giveaway is Desaree M. The winner was contacted by email.