Lately, my partner and I have been entertaining a lot of guests as part housewarming for our close friends, part taste-testing for new dishes that we need input on. But for some reason or another, there’s been added pressure on us (more like myself) to cook up something more special and delicious every time, which is never an easy thing when experimenting with new recipes. Fortunately, this past weekend was a little different when we had another close friend visit from out of town, who by the way is also an accomplished cook and could probably teach us a thing or two about Korean cooking. Instead of experimenting with a new dish, we decided to make vegetarian jajangmyeon (noodles w black bean sauce), one of my favorite dishes that I usually prefer ordering because it’s cheap, fast, and pretty darn good (thanks to plenty of MSG). For those unfamiliar with jajangmyeon, this is a very popular and fairly inexpensive Korean-Chinese “fast food” dish that can be literally be ordered in minutes (no kidding). The delivery guys on scooters race in and out of traffic at breakneck speeds to achieve this unbelievably quick delivery service. Back in the days when I owned mini-motorbike in Korea, I had the honor of meeting one of these delivery men personally as he blindsided me during rush hour. Luckily, there was no serious harm done and my bike came out unscathed, so I let him off pretty easily (oh, those were the days). Now getting back to the dish again (and sorry for the slight digression), this vegetarian version was a big hit with our friend and couldn’t have been any better. The extra sauce was put to good use for jajangbab (rice with black bean sauce) a few days later. Sweet! ^^
A little more about jajang myeon: This is the most popular delivery food in Korea along with jangbbong (spicy seafood noodle) and tangsuyuk (sweet n sour pork). There are quite a few variations of jajangmyeon, which include ganjajangmyeon, a jajangmyeon served with the jajang sauce without the starch (sauce and noodles being served separately in different bowls); samseon jajangmyeon, which incorporates seafood such as squid, shrimp, and shellfish; jajangbap, which is essentially the same dish as jajangmyeon, but the sauce is topped on rice instead of noodles (see pic below). Most dishes are typically served with a side of danmuji (yellow pickled radish) and raw diced onions with black bean sauce.
“Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.” ~ Socrates
- 1 300 gram package of chunjang paste (jajang myeon sauce)
- 1 package of kalguksu or udon noodles (or jajangmyeon noodles if available)
- 2 potatoes or sweet potatoes, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tbsp cornstarch + ½ cup cold water
- ½ cup cold water
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- ½ cup corn (optional)
- cucumber, julienned (optional for garnish/topping)
- In a large wok or frying pan, bring 4 cups of water to a rapid boil.
- Add minced garlic and chunjang paste, mix thoroughly until paste is fully dissolved.
- Next add all the vegetables to the mix, cooking on medium heat for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring another pot to a boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions.
- Lastly, add oyster sauce and the cornstarch/water mixture to the jajang sauce. Be sure to stir in the cornstarch mixture to prevent clumping. The sauce will thicken within minutes.
- Place noodles in a serving bowl, ladle sauce on top, and enjoy some awesome jajangmyeon!