Did you know that about seven million people choose to eat jajangmyeon (Korean black bean noodles) in Korea every day? This impressive number, which ends up being about 1/7 of the total population, is a testament to this dish's popularity and delicious flavor.
What Is Jajangmyeon?
These Korean black bean noodles are covered in a sweet bean sauce and are deliciously chewy. They began as a Chinese recipe using Chinese black bean sauce. In the late 1800s/early 1900s, many Chinese people immigrated from China to Incheon (near Seoul). They brought certain dishes with them as they moved, like these black bean noodles.
Korean black bean noodles are based on a Chinese dish called zhajiangmian, translating to fried sauce noodles. As the flavor of Korean cuisine and Chinese cuisine is slightly different, the recipe was altered to fit Korean tastebuds. After the addition of brown sugar, jajangmyeon was born. Now, this Korean Chinese food continues to be a popular everyday meal.
What Does Jajangmyeon Taste Like?
Korean black bean noodles have a delicious earthy, sweet, sour, decadent flavor. They’re served with chewy Korean noodles (or udon noodles). It’s also slightly spicy, which perfectly balances out the sweetness.
Why Is Jajangmyeon So Popular?
The short answer to jajangmyeon’s popularity is its convenience. It’s perfect for those with a busy schedule as it’s easy to order and receive for delivery.
Whether you’re a busy college student, mother, or employee, you can have a fresh bowl of Korean black bean noodles sitting in front of you in no time. They’re also very affordable, making them an easy to choose meal.
Many Korean dramas include a shot of the characters eating this dish. It's deeply rooted in Korean food culture.
Jajangmyeon Ingredients Commonly Used
While there are various versions of Korean black bean noodles, there are some more traditional jajangmyeon ingredients that are often in use. Below are some ingredients you can expect to see in a bowl of jajangmyeon, also spelled jjajangmyeon. You’ll also find a quick set of instructions so you can make this Korean noodle dish at home.
- Pork belly/pork shoulder
- Vegetable oil (like sesame oil)
- Fresh chopped Ginger
- Junchang (Korean black bean paste)
- Cold water
- Corn starch
- Soy sauce
- Korean noodles like Akagi Joshu Akagi Udon
Quick Jajangmyeon Recipe
These ingredients are pan-fried in a large pot on medium heat with oil. Then, the seasoning, water, and cornstarch slurry are added to help create the delicious black bean sauce. Next, the Korean noodles are boiled, stirring occasionally, until soft. The ingredients for these black bean sauce noodles are assembled with a topping of fresh cucumber.
Different Types of Jajangmyeon
There are quite a few variations of Korean black bean noodles, including options with fried black bean paste. Here are some of the varieties you may see at a restaurant.
Jjajang translates to noodle sauce (like in jjajangmyeon). Gan means dry in English. This Korean black bean noodles variety is a drier version than the standard jjajangmyeon. It's similar to the above recipe, except you do not add the water or cornstarch slurry.
While the ingredients remain the same in this variation, the cooking method changes slightly. The noodles are added to a wok to stir fry with the sauce in this version. Afterward, jaengban-jjajang is served on a plate (not a bowl).
One major change between this version and traditional Korean black bean noodles is the protein. Traditionally, pork belly is added. However, this version incorporates ground meat instead.
Sauce variations have the same (or most of the same) base ingredients. Slight modifications to the sauce of these noodles are what create the variations of these Korean Chinese dishes. For example, some recipes have brown sugar, and some don’t. Some sauce variations use pork belly for flavoring, while others rely on chopped fresh vegetables and broth.
Jajangmyeon and Black Day In Korea
Black Day is an unofficial day in Korea. It falls on the same day every year – April 14. This "holiday" is celebrated typically by those who are single. It's a day when you "drown your sorrows" by eating black food. Korean black bean noodles are especially popular on this day, and many celebrate the unofficial holiday by chowing down on a large bowl of Korean black bean noodles.
Hungry yet? Check out Bokksu Market for snacks and meals that will deliver right to your door. You can even find Nongshim Chapagetti Noodle (4-pack), an instant noodle version of the beloved jajangmyeon that takes only a few minutes to create. Check out Bokksu’s other Asian snacks for more delicious items to stock in your pantry.