Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jjajangmyeon 짜장면 (Korean Egg Noodle with Black Bean Sauce)

Before i visited Korea, my idea of Jjajangmyeon was Instant noodles.  It was simple and easy to cook and i could eat it everyday with a side serving of kimchi (김치) or danmuji (단무지) or better still, both.  I was easily satisfied.  

Then in September, I made my maiden voyage to South Korea.  And was introduced to a little restaurant off Myeongdong for what 김철수 claims to be the BEST jjajangmyeon ever!  We ordered seafood jjajangmyeon  (해물짜장면).  It was heavenly.  The sauce was perfect, the noodles had the right elasticity.  I was in heaven.  

After returning I thought about that jjajangmyeon frequently, I visited several restaurants in hope to find the same taste, but was deeply disappointed.

So after much research I've decided to cook this dish today.

A little history about this noodle. Jjajangmyeon was first created in a little chinese restaurant in the city of Incheon in the 1950s.  Jjajangmyeon is called one of the "national foods" of South Korea.  It has been by far the most popular delivery food in Korea, and almost every Chinese restaurant in Korea has Jjajangmyeon on its menu.  As of March 2009, six million servings of Jjajangmyeon are sold in South Korea per day, and it was chosen as one of the top 100 "Korean cultural symbols" by the South Korean Government in 2006.

In South Korea, there is a recently established tradition that singles eat jjajangmyeon on BLACK DAY, which is April 14.  

Do you know that there is even a book published about Jjajangmyeon?  Titled "A Story of Jajangmyeon" (짜장면 뎐), the book was written by Yang Se-uk, a research professor of chinese language and literature at the Hanyang University.  It's preface is as solemn and heroic as the introductory part of a martial arts fiction: "Towards the end of the 19th century when Korea and China were both seeking modern diplomatic relations, jajangmyeon silently crossed the Yellow Sea and stealthily landed on the Korean peninsula.  As a result of groping blindly in the dark for a half century, jajangmyeon's black charm finally captivated the Korean people in the mid 20th century"

Well, now that you know so much about jjajangmyeon, lets start with making the Home-made egg noodles.  I decided to make the noodle from scratch as I was told that it's best when noodles are fresh and has a certain elasticity.

Recipe for Egg Noodles (

2 cups of plain flour (Each cup serves 2 person) 
2 eggs (beaten)
2 tsp of salt  (I tried 1 but not salty enough)
1/4 cup of water (u might need more or less depending on how big your egg is)

The ingredients are approximate, you have to learn the feel of the dough as you knead.

Beat the eggs with salt, make a well in the flour and pour egg mixture in.

Mix with a pair of chopstics, add water slowly and continue to mix.  You may need more or less, but add just enough for the dough to come together.  Don't add too much otherwise it will be too soft after resting and would be very difficult to handle.

The dough will seem hard initially.  Knead it into a ball, let it rest for about 10mins.  Then start kneading it for another 10-15 mins (warning: expect sore arms and fingers later in the night)  If you have a strong man at home, make him do this job.  He will be happy with the muscles he get from this fabulous exercise.

Let it sit for 30mins, then go back and knead it for another 10-15 mins again.  Keep doing that for a few time.  The more you do this the more chewy the noodles will be.  The dough will soften as u knead more. 

Flatten the dough, divide it into 2 for easy handling.

Flour your work table and the rolling pin.  Roll the dough out as thin as you can without breaking.
Sprinkle more flour on the flattened dough.  Fold it over and roll it very thin again.

Finally, fold it over a few times. Remember to sprinkle flour in between before folding.  Make sure the ends is shorter then your knife for easy cutting.   Cut them into thin strips.  Well, if you like thicker noodles u can cut them thicker.  I like them just the way i had them at Myeongdong. :D

Loosen the noodles and powder them in a tray to prevent them from sticking.  You can use cornflour for this.

Boil a big pot of water.  Put the noodles in a portion at a time.  Too much noodles and too little water will make the noodle gooey.  When the noodles float, they are ready.  Get the noodles out as quick as possible with a metal sieve.  Drain it then put it in a bowl, put some olive oil in the noodle and mix it well, tat is to prevent them from sticking together.  But cook the noodles only when your sauce is ready.

Recipe for the Jjajang (Black bean sauce)

Olive oil
300 grams pork belly, cubed (if you are health conscious you can chose a leaner meat)
7 tablespoons black bean paste (해찬들된장) You can buy this from the Korean supermarket.
1 cup Radish, cubed
1 cup sweet potatoes, cubed
1 cup zucchini, cubed
1 cup carrot, cubed
2 cups onions, cubed
3 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon refined rice wine
starch water (mix 2 tablespoon of corn/potato starch with 2 tablespoon of water)
1 cucumber sliced into thin strips, for garnish
slices of Danmuji 단무지 (korean pickled radish, comes in white and yellow) 

Wash pork with with cold water.  Marinate it with 1 tbs of refined rice wine, 2 pinch of salt, a sprinkle of pepper and some ginger juice. Mix well.

Fry the pork in the pan without oil, the pork belly will give you enough oil.  Fry till it's slightly brown, remove and set aside.  Discard pork oil.

Add some olive oil in the wok and put in the onions, fry till translucent.  Add in potatoes, radish and carrots.  Fry it for a bit.

Add zucchini and sweet potatoes.  Fry it for a while, leave it on low fire.

Add 3 cups of water till the ingredients are submerged.  Cover and simmer for 20mins

In a seperate pan, add a little oil, stir fry the black bean paste on medium heat for about 1-2 mins.

Open lid of vegetable and pork wok and skim off the foam.

Discard oil and add bean paste and refined rice wine and stir up till it's well mixed and black.  

Simmer it abit more till everything is cooked.   (Taste the potato to check if it's cooked)

Add the starch water slowly into the wok, stir while you do it.  Add enough till the soup turns into a sticky sauce.  Add 1 tbsp of sugar to taste.  Adjust this to your liking.  

Serve the sauce on your noodle.  Garnish with sliced cucumber and serve with a few slices of danmuji (pickled radish)  Few slices is usually not enough.  It's too good.  

To make it PERFECT......accompany it with a glass of Makgeoli (Korean Rice Wine)  or Hite Beer. :D


  1. the noodles looks realy yummy and tempting wor. :)I think the effort paid off. :)

  2. Yes, don't miss my apple crumble next week oh!! :D

  3. Jjajangmyeon noodle for the soul~~

  4. Unluckily I wasn't home that evening, but I tried this korean noodles the following day and that was good, new for me etc..
    To tell the truth, I finished the whole box.