Jajangmyeon is hands-down, the most popular Chinese food in Korea. There are Jajangmyeon shops on almost every street in Seoul.
So it rarely crosses people’s mind to make this at home. However, if you are living outside of Korea, the first thing to find is Black Bean Sauce. Black Bean Sauce is made from fermented black beans. It is not the same black beans you find in South American cuisine like Black Beans & Rice. Instead, it is made with black soybeans. The fermented soy beans are created by first boiling the beans and then inoculating them with a special mold called Koji as they dry in the sun.
How does it taste? The raw black bean paste (chunjang) tastes very bitter and salty – something like dark soy sauce. However, when it is made into a sauce, it takes the flavor of noodles and stir-fries to another level. It adds a layer of umami that is hard to replicate with any other sauces.
Fun fact: There is even a unofficial holiday in Korea called Black Day, where single people will eat Jajangmyeon! It is somewhat of a joke… but a day where single people commiserate with each other (about the lack of a partner) while eating black foods like Jajangmyeon and leftover chocolate.
Key taste variable: Balance in flavor
Fry the chunjang paste to remove the bitterness of the bean paste. Then place a couple tablespoons of sugar to infuse some sweetness into the paste.
- Black Bean Paste - 1/2 cup Chunjang
- Sugar - 2 Tablespoons
- Vegetable oil - 2 cups
- Water - 2 cups
- Starch water - 6-8 Tablespoons
- Onion - 1
- Cabbage - 1/4 a whole
- Spring onion - 2 stalks
- Pork - 200 grams
- Cucumber - 1/4 a whole
- Jajangmyeon noodles - 4 person serving
Prep fresh ingredients
- Cut onion and cabbage into rough cubes. Cut pork into bite-sized pieces.
- Cut cucumbers into thin, long strips for garnish.
Fry black bean paste
- Put black bean paste into frying pan. Pour 2 cups of vegetable oil in. Turn on medium low heat. Make sure to move paste around while the oil come up to a boil.
- Once the oil starts to sizzle with bubbles, fry for another 30 seconds.
- Then take-out the fried paste and place in a bowl. Pour out any excess oil from the bowl and set aside.
- Put a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Then put in the sliced spring onion pieces. Place the frying pan on a medium heat.
- Once spring onion starts to sizzle, place in pork pieces. When most of the red is cooked away from the pork, add the onion and cabbage in.
- Then add the fried black bean paste, along with the sugar. Stir-in the black paste and coat all of the vegetables.
- Then add two cups of water into the mixture.
- While the pot starts to re-boil, take out a small bowl and make starch water: Mix in 2 tablespoons of (potato) starch powder with 6 tablespoons of water.
- Once the pot is boiling, put in this starch water into the sauce. Don't add all of it at once. Add a little and see how much more you need to thicken-up into the consistency of a curry sauce.
- Let it gently simmer for 5-8 minutes on medium heat. Then turn off the heat. Pour over noodles and garnish with cucumber.
- Save the leftover sauce - and eat it over rice in the morning!
- You can find fresh noodles for Jajangmyeon at Korean marts. If that is not available – feel free to improvise and work with egg or wheat noodles. I have even used spaghetti noodles in the past!
- Watch video below for more details