As surely as February 14th is Valentine’s Day, April 14th is Black Day in Korea, a day where singles wear black and gather to eat black food. Many people eat jjajangmyun on Black Day to soothe their lonely hearts and although I’m not sure how this tradition got started, I’m quite sure it’s a balm to eat such a yummy meal in honor of this day.
Jjajangmyun is so popular as a quick, cheap, and delicious meal in Korea that there is usually no reason to make it at home. Most homes in Korean cities are within quick delivery distance of a jjajangmyun restaurant that will deliver to your door and even pick up your dirty dishes when you’re finished, all for under $10 in most neighborhoods.
We in the US, on the other hand, do not have such a luxury and must make the dish at home whether we are drowning our sorrows or simply satisfying our frequent cravings for this delicious dish of noodles.
The sauce consists of a special black bean sauce that is specifically designed for jjajangmyun which you saute and mix with vegetables and pork. The noodles are very important, and though you can use spaghetti noodles in a pinch, try to get fresh refrigerated jjajang or udon noodles at your Korean grocery store. You might even be tempted to make your next pasta dish with these lovely fresh noodles.
I omit ginger in this recipe because I’ve found that it’s easy to overpower the taste with a bit too much ginger, while omitting it doesn’t make much difference. Also, I often don’t have ginger in my fridge and I’ve become accustom to making this dish without it. If you’d like to add some, you can add up to 1 teaspoon of grated ginger to the pork marinade.
We absolutely love jjajangmyun night in our home and given the choice, my husband will choose it over almost any other option.
Adapted from Korean Bapsang
- 3-4 Servings Fresh Jjangmyun Noodles
- 5 Tbsp Jjajang or Chunjang
- 2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 1 Cup Chicken Stock or Water
- 1 Tbsp Corn Starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
- 8-10 Oz Pork
- 1 Tbsp Rice Wine or Mirin
- 2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
- 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 Large Onion
- 1 Large Potato
- 8 Oz Zucchini
- 1 Small Cucumber for garnish
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. Chop the cucumbers into thin matchsticks for the garnish.
Prep the pork and vegetables: Prepare the pork by cutting them into 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes. Marinate the pork with a tablespoon of rice wine (or mirin) with a dash of salt and pepper. Prepare the vegetables by cutting them into 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes. Cut potatoes smaller than other vegetables.
Cook the pork and vegetables: Heat a large pan with 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium high heat. Add the pork and stir fry until no longer pink, adding a tablespoon of soy sauce half way through. Add the potatoes and onion and cook until soft, then add the zucchini and continue to stir fry until vegetables are softened. Remove vegetables onto a dish.
Cook the jjajang paste: Heat the oil in the pan then add jjajang/chunjang with the sugar and oyster sauce. Fry it over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Stir in the the meat and vegetables and coat well with the paste. 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 starch slurry and cook briefly until the sauce is thickened. Add more sugar to taste.
Add the noodles in the boiling water. Cook according to the package instructions and drain. Do not overcook. The noodles should have a firm bite to them (al dente). Place a serving size of noodles in each bowl. Spoon the sauce over the noodles and garnish with the optional cucumber matchsticks.