Jjajangmyun, the Korean-Chinese noodles with black bean paste

by Beyond Kimchee on February 15, 2013 · 49 comments

Jjajangmyun

Before the McDonald landed in Korea, or Pizza Hut invaded with Bulgogi pizza to change the taste buds of Korean children from kimchi pancakes to pizza, there was a noodle dish called “Jjajangmyun“.

Jjajangmyun used to be the all time Korean kid’s favorite food. At least to me, it was. The dish was known as the special treat to the children when they had done something really good; like getting an A in their school report or finishing their piano lesson to a certain level. It is a nostalgic food to every Koreans above 30+ years old.

I don’t remember my mom making this noodles at home. She never bothered to make it because it was easily, quickly, and inexpensively accessible. Like a box of pizza that we order as a take-out these days, this Jjajangmyun was often delivered to everyone’s home.

Jjajangmyun is actually a Chinese noodle dish, made with black bean paste in the sauce.

For some reason the dish have evolved a little differently in Korea than it was in China, and became very popular among Koreans. I have tried in Hong Kong and Taiwan with their version but I prefer the way Koreans make.

If you don’t have the Korean style Chinese restaurants in your area, you will be glad that you found this recipe. It is quite easy to make.

 

First you will need some cubed pork (about 1/2″).  Any pork cut is okay-la.

 

Dice your vegetables, all in cubed shapes. Cabbage, onion, potato, and zucchini are my chosen ones.

 

Now, there are two types of black bean base sauce.  One is in powdered form and the other in paste. My advice? Get the paste. Although the powder is easier to cook with, I found the paste yields better taste.

 

You want to fry the paste in prior to make sauce.  That way it will remove some bitterness of the black bean paste. It looks like there’s awful amounts of oil, but the sauce doesn’t soak up much oil. Fry the paste with 1 tablespoon of sugar for 3-4 minutes over the medium heat.  As you see, the oil and the paste don’t mingle together.

UPDATE (Apr/6/2014) : You can find Korean black bean pastes that has been pre-roasted in most Korean stores these days. Using pre-roasted paste will eliminate this frying step. How nice!

 

With a slotted spoon transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside. Discard oil in the pan except 1 tablespoonful to remain.

 

Saute your pork until they are no longer shy in pink.

 

Dump all your vegetables and continue to saute to 2-3 minutes.

 

Return your black bean paste and 1.5 cup of water to the pan. Add more water if you prefer thinner sauce.

I sometimes add a little bit oyster sauce to bring more flavor, but not today. Simply because I was lazy to go outside to buy a bottle.

Anyway, stir the sauce well to incorporate. Bring to boil first, then simmer for 3-5 minutes or until they are tender.

 

Dissolve corn starch in water

 

And add to the pot. Stir and continue to cook, about 2-3 minutes. The sauce will get thicken.

 

Here it is, the beautifully thickened Jjajangmyun sauce!

Oh, do you feel the dark side of the force? I do.

 

Here are Jjajangmyun noodles.  You will find them in a freezer section of Korean stores. Or you can use any thick wheat noodles, even Spaghetti or Fettuccine.

 

Add to the boiling water and cook according to your package direction, about 6 minutes.

 

Drain. I like to rinse them with hot water. My gluten loaded noodles are ready to take an action.

Place these chewy noodles in a large shallow bowl and pour the sauce over. Mix like crazy with your chopsticks. And eat.

 

Jjajangmyun

You will absolutely need some napkins. Many actually.

Nothing is grosser than seeing a grown-up with the *Jjajangmyun mustache* around his/her mouth. (Imagine the “Got milk?” ads in the 90′s)

It is not easy to eat this dark-forced noodles without making the slurping noise but, hey! that is life. People will understand.

 

My kids absolutely love this.

And one of them did have the cute *Got Jjajangmyun? mustache*.  Too bad, I missed taking photos of him. :(

Hope you love it, too.

 

Giving my Jjajangmyun love to you

 

 

 

Jjajangmyun

Jjajangmyun, the Korean-Chinese noodles with black bean paste

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Jjajangmyun, the Korean-Chinese noodles with black bean paste

Ingredients

4 tablespoon black bean paste (choonjang)
4 tablespoon grape seed or canola oil
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lb pork, diced to 1/2" cubes
1/4 cabbage, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 zucchini ,diced to 1/2" cubes
1 small russet potato, diced 1/2" cubes
1 tablespoon oyster sauce, optional
1 1/2 cup water or more
2 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 3 tablespoon water
salt or soy sauce to season if needed
1/2 cucumber, julienne thinly for garnish

Directions

  1. In a wok or skillet heat oil over medium heat, add the bean paste and sugar and stir fry together for 3-4 minutes. The oil and the paste won't get mixed. Using slotted spoon, scoop up the paste to drain the oil and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Discard the rest of oil except 1 tablespoon remaining in a skillet. Add the pork and cook until no longer in pink. Add cabbage, onion, zucchini, and potato and stir fry until somewhat soft.
  3. Add the black bean paste back to the skillet and mix. Add oyster sauce if your desire. Pour 1 1/2cup of water and bring everything to boil, reduce the heat to simmer until everything is tender yet retain their shape, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt or soy sauce if needed.
  4. Mix corn starch with 3 tablespoon water and add to the skillet. The sauce will thicken within minutes. Remove from the heat
  5. Meanwhile bring a pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook according to the package direction, usually about 6-7 minutes.
  6. Drain the noodles and rinse once with hot water to remove excess starch.
  7. Place noodles in a large shallow individual serving bowl and pour the sauce over. Garnish with cucumber slices. Serve hot.
http://www.beyondkimchee.com/jjajangmyun/

 

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

john@kitchenriffs February 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Gosh, this has such terrific color! And the flavors sound wonderful – I love black bean sauce. And anything with noodles in it certainly gets my attention. ;-) Great dish. And when I eat it, I know already I’ll be making slurping noises!

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Gabriele February 16, 2013 at 1:32 am

Hello! Would you like to share your recipes on http://whenangelscook.com? Check it out :) already great presence on FB, twitter and Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/gabrielle8008/when-angels-cook/ – would love to see your recipes :) – it is new and will grow because of you! It would be great to have you and your recipes on board.

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Kathy Brown February 16, 2013 at 1:52 am

I can hardly wait to try this! I just discovered your blog about 2 or 3 weeks ago, and absolutely love your dishes AND your pictures. You make it soooo easy to do South-Asian/Korean food right at home. I cannot say thank you enough!

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Leah Baik February 16, 2013 at 2:18 am

Mmmmm! Yes! I prefer Jjajjangbap with a fried egg on top, but either way it’s so good.

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Erica S. February 16, 2013 at 9:27 am

Oh, I love jjajangmyun, and your photos are absolutely mouthwatering! I just don’t eat it very often since it’s stuck in my mind that it is not healthy food…especially with the step of frying the sauce in oil. Actually, I’ve always been curious about this frying step; if the point is to cook the paste at high temperature (as would be the case with the oil-frying) to remove the bitter taste, couldn’t this oil-frying step be omitted and instead replaced with just boiling the sauce (also high temperature cooking) at a later step, without adding the original frying oil? Or is there something about this oil-frying technique that I am not understanding? I have tried making jjajangmyun with my boiling idea (no frying), and I did not notice a bitter taste. But even though it tasted good and was a little healthier, I felt guilty for not making it the traditional Korean way. Can you help me understand this frying step a little better?

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Holly February 16, 2013 at 10:49 am

Hi Erica

As you know, the reason we fry the paste in oil is to remove the bitterness and the rawness from the wheat flour that had been added to the paste. The frying in oil also help create some nutty flavor in the sauce as well. You can certainly use boiling method but the overall flavor of the sauce won’t be as tasty. You know fat makes the flavor.

If you go to the popluar Jjajangmyun restaurants, chances are they will use lots of shortening or even lard to fry their paste to make the sauce. Some even add MSG to bring more flavor. For that reason Jjajangmyun is known for unhealthy. Although I grow up eating restaurant Jjajangmyun often, I don’t like to feed my family the noodles made with unhealthy fat. You can make the dish a lot healthier at home. (However I do have the occasional craving of the old time restaurant flavor though)

As you follow my recipe, you fry the paste in oil – the paste doesn’t soak up the oil much, then drain the most oil except just a little to fry the rest of the ingredients. Use healthy oil such as grape seeds or canola, and it shouldn’t be too bad.

I hope I answered your question alright.

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Erica S. February 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Thanks, Holly, yes, your explanation is so nice! ^_^ I guess I have been shy of trying the frying step, but with your helpful guidance maybe I will try it sometime at home. Have a great rest of the week!

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leaf (the indolent cook) February 16, 2013 at 9:51 am

I’ve never had the Korean version, looks good and I hope to try it one day. :)

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H-J February 16, 2013 at 10:10 pm

YUM! A recipe for jjajangmyeon…so exciting as we haven’t had this since leaving Korea for fear that any versions not be the same as we’re used to. This one looks pretty damn authentic. Thanks!!!

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Sam Tsai February 16, 2013 at 11:55 pm

these look absolutely beautifully amazing. Must find some free time to make this…

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Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom February 17, 2013 at 12:24 am

My kids love jajangmyun too!! Yours looks great!

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Joseph Chaiwhan Kim February 17, 2013 at 11:23 am

When I was a child, I could not eat enough of this! I still love eating Jjajangmyun!

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Nami | Just One Cookbook February 19, 2013 at 3:33 pm

This is one of my favorite Korean food!! Yay for the authentic recipe. Thanks Holly!

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Ann Mah February 21, 2013 at 3:24 am

I love that this simple, savory meal is considered a special treat in Korea! Black bean sauce is one of my favorite flavors. I can’t wait to try this.

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Kukuigirl February 24, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I love Jjajangmyun. I first had it when I was in Hawaii for my studies. But when I moved back to Malaysia, all I could find was those instant noodle kind. And for years that had been the only Jjajangmyun I get to eat in Malaysia. Then I went to Korea last year and I realized the instant noodle kind does not even come close to the ones I ate in Korea. I actually ate it a couple nights in a row as to get as much Jjajangmyun as I can before coming back to Malaysia. Thank you for sharing the recipe. Now I can go get the ingredients and make my own Jjajangmyun at home. Thank you so much.

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NancyE February 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm

As always, your recipes never disappoint! I made this for dinner last night and my husband (who spent a number of years in Korea) said, “I can’t believe can cook like this and you’ve never been to Korea”. That is a compliment to you, Holly; your step-by-step instructions make it an easy dish to prepare. The distinctive black bean flavor with the texture of the noodles makes it addictive. Leah Baik is right—an egg on top would have been fabulous, but we enjoyed it without. I love your recipes, Holly. Thanks for sharing.

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Holly March 1, 2013 at 7:35 am

Nancy, I am so happy to hear you made this noodles and your husband complimented. Thanks for your sweet comment. I appreciate it.

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Peter March 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm

When I was an undergrad, one way I paid for school was working as a waiter at a popular Chinese restaurant. Every evening after we finished dressing and prepping our stations, the head chef (he was Korean) would make the staff meal. One day he made Jjajangmyun and it was heavenly. I requested this again and again but it never appeared on the staff menu again from him. I never saw this again until I just happened upon your site.

I made it last night and introduced it to my children. It is not often we find something that stops the chatter at the dinner table. The only thing we heard was slurping sounds. And yes, there were many black-rimmed smiles.

Thanks

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Holly March 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm

So great to hear your children liked the noodles!

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Ania April 26, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Very good recipe. I love Jjajangmyun :)

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tanvi April 28, 2013 at 3:06 am

I really love korean food,but i live in india.do u know of any way i could lay my hands on the bean paste u mentioned?

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Holly April 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm

You can use Chinese black bean paste if you have access to Chinese groceries.

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Caroline July 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Great recipe, thanks! Made it today and it was absolutely delicious. Will make it again soon for sure.

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Emsu August 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Thank you for posting this! My husband and I lived in Korea for 4 years, and jjajangmyun was and still is one of our favorite dishes. I hope you don’t mind that I linked your recipe on our own blog! We were so happy to try this out :)

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naro August 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Hey I have a question..is jjanjgmyun supposed to be sweet? is salt not required?? sorry too many questions lol :D

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Holly August 12, 2013 at 12:03 am

Jjajangmyun is not sweet. The black bean paste itself has plenty of salt in it but you can always add some salt for your taste.

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Cassie September 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Hi Holly!

I am dying for some jjajangmyun – have been craving it. But, I am now eating vegan and am hoping to adapt it to a more oil-free vegan style by omitting the oyster sauce and pork. But Is the oil absolutely needed? I plan on sautéing the vegetables in water, like I normally do, but is the black bean paste absolutely needing to be sautéed with oil?

Thanks so much! Can’t wait to try!

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Holly September 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I would recommend you to use the powdered form of black bean instead of paste. With the powder you don’t need the sauteing. You can make this noodle into vegan dish as you like. If you can’t find the powder, you will need to saute in oil to get rid of the bitterness. You can boil, of course. But it won’t taste as good. A little bit of healthy oil like grape seed oil or canola oil will make the dish more flavorful.

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Lee September 18, 2013 at 10:02 am

I used black bean paste that was labeled: “Black Bean Paste / Roasted” (Brand was Haioreum). I assumed it had been pre-roasted so I skipped the step where you sautee the black bean paste and the result tasted fine to me.

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효리 September 7, 2013 at 10:04 am

Hello~ i cant eat pork so can i change it to meat or anything else?

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Holly September 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm

You can try with ground beef.

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Lee September 7, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Thank you !

I think you nailed this recipe. Was looking around for a good jajang myun recipe.
Tried one from a different site and it was pretty off.
Your recipe captured the flavors and textures I remember. I used cube bellies for the meat and substituted potato starch in place of the cornstarch to avoid that chalky taste that cornstarch sometimes seems to add..

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Keri September 19, 2013 at 11:16 pm

This looks so good. I found you on Pinterest and having never even had this dish, I can’t wait to make it. How many ounces of noodles serves 4?

Thanks!

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Le January 19, 2014 at 10:56 am

Dear Holly, I love your blog! There is an HMart in my area. What aisle/section of the store can I find the Chinese black bean paste? I have asked a couple of workers there and it seems they really don’t know where things are. Thanks!

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Holly January 20, 2014 at 10:50 am

Black bean pastes should be in a condiment aisle where you see Korean pastes. Korean style black bean paste should be next to Korean soy bean pastes, and the Chinese black bean pastes are usually displayed across the aisle. I have seen Korean black bean pastes that are already pre-roasted so that you don’t need to fry-up to get rid of the bitterness. Have a fun shopping!

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Dawn Wolf April 24, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I made this last night, but used clear noodles I had purchased for another recipe (which I now cannot find!). I was trying to get rice noodles originally, and these had beans and peas as the ingredients. ??? In any case, it was very good. Next time, I’ll make it spicier, and replace the potatoes with something else. I’m also going to try to find authentic bean paste at the Asian grocery store. The only kind I found in the regular grocery store was Kikkoman brand.

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Holly April 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I am glad that this recipe turns out well with clear noodles. Making it spicier sounds great, too.

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ja May 3, 2014 at 1:15 am

Had the Chinese jajiangmian on a side street in Taipei Taiwan, and it was unforgettable even after several decades!

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Linda May 28, 2014 at 5:15 pm

This recipe was really helpful and it even provided pictures on the website on each step, so it made it even easier to follow. Although we followed the final product, our picture didn’t turn out so much like the professional picture, which is okay. It tasted really good and my friends said it tasted like their parents’ jjajangmyun!

We altered the noodles and the brand of the black bean paste because we couldn’t find the Korean brands of the noodle and paste. We went went Chinese black bean paste and replaced the Korean noodles with spaghetti noodles because we could get that at our local food market. We used half wheat spaghetti noodles and white noodles. It turned out pretty well, although our color wasn’t the same as the picture. Our toppings and everything were more brownish than blackish. Either way, once again, it was delicious.

What I would do differently is maybe just go for the Korean brand ingredients, if it wasn’t for the fact that I lived far from the Korean market and so on. I would also measure the toppings that we used more, instead of rushing it and going with what looked right in my eyes since it’s hard to measure how much cabbage we could have used with me eyes.

This is what the final product looked like: noodles good, and the toppings were overflowing. Cucumbers tasted good as well.

I would always recommend this recipe to someone. Just because I couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean that someone else couldn’t.

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Gino May 30, 2014 at 10:51 pm

If you use spaghetti noodles, I think you really miss much of what makes the dish taste so good. The noodles need to have that chewy, firm taste. Two Korean fresh noodle brands that work pretty well for me are: Assi and Choripdong.

And actually, I’ve used fresh lomein noodles (brand Twin Marquis) with good results.

You can get Korean black bean paste online from hwww.mart.com — search for ‘black bean paste’ there. I think the brand I used was Haioreum.

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Gino May 30, 2014 at 10:54 pm

in my previous post, change my typo from hwww.mart.com to http://www.hmart.com

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Tina May 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm

This recipe was pretty awesome. The instructions were easy to follow. The final product looked really close to the pictures on here and it tasted really good. There are some parts where we had to change the amount of stuff we had to put in, for example the amount of black bean sauce, there wasn’t enough black bean sauce to coat the noodles so we added a little bit more in. In the end it had a more of the color that is usually seen with jjajangmyun. It looked brown and really sticking and gooey looking, just the way I like it. This recipe was pretty good, nice and clear instructions and good amounts of stuff to make it, the only thing is that we changed the amount of black bean sauce.

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Nancy May 30, 2014 at 4:38 pm

This recipe was easy and simple to follow which it made it very helpful. The final product of this recipe did not turn out to be like the professional picture. We had to substitute some ingredients like the Korean black bean paste with Chinese black bean sauce. The noodles were also substituted with spaghetti because it was something that we could find at our local supermarket. These substitutions didn’t really change the recipe that much but the color of the sauce was different. The color of our dish turned out brownish but that was due to the paste sauce we used. Even though we had those substitutions, the recipe turned out really good and it also taste very good. If I had to redo this, I would like to have slimmed down some of the portions of the vegetables because it was just too much. I would also like to use Asian noodles and the Korean brand black bean sauce instead to see if it would have tasted any differently. The final product consists of noodles on the bottom with the black bean sauce mixed with vegetables and pork layered on top. To top off the dish, we had fresh slices of cucumber. I would like to recommend this recipe to another person because it was a easy recipe that anyone can follow and our final dish turned out amazing.

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Phuong June 1, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I just made this for dinner but I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to taste like since I’ve never tried it before. Is jjajangmyun supposed to be sweet? Mine was a bit bland and the only flavour I could taste was salt. Is it because I didn’t put enough black bean paste?

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Holly June 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Jjajangmyun has mild yet distinctive its own flavor from the black bean paste. It is not spicy and can be very slight sweet but not much. If yours is salty, I wonder if you used the right kind of black bean paste. Did you use Korean style black bean paste?

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