Jajangmyeon is a very popular noodle dish in Korea that is made with Chinese black bean paste (Chunjang), meat and veggies. Included in my post is my Gan-Jajangmyeon recipe which has a more concentrated and intense flavor. A great one-dish meal any time or any day of the week!
Jajangmyeon (짜장면) or Jjajangmyeon is a Chinese Korean noodle dish that according to one story was introduced in 1905 by a Chinese chef at Gonghwachun (공화춘; 共和春), a Chinese restaurant in Incheon Chinatown settled by immigrants from the Shandong Province of China. Since then, it has fully become part of the Korean culture, invoking all sorts of memories for many Koreans young and old.
The other story says that no one knows for certain who introduced it first but the dish came about because the Chinese immigrants who worked at the Incheon pier in the 1890’s needed something quick and cheap to eat.
In 2012, I visited Incheon and also visited this Jajangmyeon museum and here are some pictures that I took.
From top left to right: picture of Incheon Chinatown and tourists; the chef + delivery man sculpture in front of the museum; the inside of the most famous Jajangmyeon restaurant (feels like I was in a Chinese martial arts movie); antique steel carrier used for delivering Chinese food.
So… did you ever notice? In almost every Korean drama, you will see characters devour this black sauce noodle dish-ending with black sauce all around their mouths. And they are always delivered in a version of the steel carrier above which is now sometimes a plastic box.
There’s even a saying among Koreans about how a move to a new home is not complete unless you order Jajangmyeon at the end of a long moving day. For every Korean neighborhood, there’s always a Chinese restaurant nearby and delivery is a must. A few days ago, in one of my TV favorite show – “Dad, where are you going?”(아빠 어디가? Appa Uh-diga?)- I watched Jjajangmyeon being delivered to a rice field!!? Whaat??? Even the dads were surprised to see the food when it came. Now, I call that service!!!
I think in many ways, Jjajangmyeon is equivalent to America’s Pizza. If you are up late working in the office or if you have friends over but not sure what to eat, then Koreans order this ultimate comforting dish.
I have been making homemade Jajangmyeon since 91′ after I got married (over 20 years?!) at the request of my husband. My recipe has evolved quite a bit over the years and I have to say I’m quite happy with this one. When I gave it to my daughter for tasting, she happily chanted “Your Jajangmyeon tastes better than the one at the restaurant we visited!”. And if you are allergic to MSG, my version does NOT need any so you are good there.
- 간짜장면 Gan-Jajangmyeon – more intense flavor because the sauce is condensed (just black bean paste and vegetables, little water) also more expensive
- 짜장면 Jajangmyeon – water or broth added to Kaan Jajang, so it’s milder in flavor
- 삼선간짜장면 Samseon Kaan Jajangmyeon – ‘sam’ means 3 and ‘seon’ means taste. Traditionally, it contains 3 kinds of seafood like squid, sea cucumber and shrimp in addition to pork and veggies.
- 사천짜장면 Sahcheon Jajangmyeon – Sahcheon (사천) means Szechuan. as with many things Szechuan, it had added spiciness
- 유니짜장면 Uni Jajangmyeon – is made with ground meat instead of cubes which is how it’s mostly done
The version I’m making here is Kaan Jajang. You can easily make regular Jajangmyeon by adding more water or chicken broth.
Chef’s Tips for making Best Jajangmyeon
- Always pre-fry the Chunjang in lots of oil – if you skip this step, your sauce will come out tasting a bit tart
- Customize added ingredients – you can add or swap out vegetables. Just don’t omit onions. You can also add squid and scallops to the recipe below. Use BEEF stew meat instead of pork if you’d like
- Make extra sauce – it keeps for several days in the fridge so just reheat and enjoy later.
- Use rice instead of noodles to make Jajangbap or better yet, make simple fried rice and serve it with that.
- Add a runny fried egg on top for extra umami!
Servings: 3 Cooking Time: 35 min Difficulty: Medium
Ingredients for Jajangmyeon
- 1/2 C Chinese black bean paste (춘장 chunjang/choonjang)
- 1/2 C or 3 fresh, dried or fresh shitake mushrooms, chopped (optional)
- 3 oz (80g) pork loin, cut into cubes
- 1 medium size onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 C cabbage, chopped
- 1/2 C zucchini, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped (optional)
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cucumber, julienned (as garnish)
- 1 T sugar
- 1 C water
- 1/2 C + 3 T vegetable oil
- 1 pack of fresh noodles for jajangmyeon or kal guksu
In Korea, this Jinmi Chunjang (진미 춘장) is the standard black bean paste to use for Jajangmyeon. They used to have MSG in it but not any more so that’s a good thing. 🙂
- Prepare ingredients below:
*See the lovely yellow carrot?! The pretty carrot is from my farm – we grew some colored carrots this summer and I decided to add the carrot for additional flavor. Carrot is totally optional but is a great way to hide additional nutrition for kids. I loved these carrots so much, I decided to take a picture –
2. Chop all vegetables into small cubes.
3. In a non-stick frying pan, add equal amount of choonjang and oil to pan on medium/medium low heat. Should be bubbling but not burning. Stirring often, cook for 7 min.
Lots of oil will be leftover after stir frying the paste.
4. WHILE the choonjang is cooking, in ANOTHER pan, add 2 T oil to pan on medium heat. Sauté just onions and cabbages for 10 min or more until onions become translucent. This will make your sauce taste sweeter!
5. Remove choonjang from pan. It should be easy to bunch up the cooked choonjang and remove from oil. Like so-
6. Discard the leftover oil in pan.
7. Remove onions and cabbages from pan and set aside. Sauté pork on med-high heat for 2-3 min in the same pan.
8. Once pork is cooked, return onions, cabbages to pan. Add 1 T oil and remaining vegetables. Sauté all ingredients on med-high heat for 5 – 7 min. Veggies should still be slightly crunchy.
9. Add the cooked choonjang paste to pan (step 8) and stir everything, making sure the paste coats the ingredients evenly.
10. Stir fry for 2 min. Add 1 C water and 1 T sugar. Cook until the sauce is reduced to half. Reduce further for more condensed flavor.
11. Fresh noodles (국수 guksu) are best for Jajangmyeon. If you can buy one’s that says “짜장면 국수”, it should work fine. If you cannot find it at my local market, 칼국수 (Kalguksu/Kalgooksoo) will work fine. Cook the noodles in boiling water for 7-10 min (based on package directions) and rinse in cold water.
12. Sauce is now ready!
Just add noodles or rice to a bowl and top with this amazingly yummy Kaanjajang sauce!
- How to make regular Jajangmyeon? – In step 8, instead of reducing the sauce, just add 1 T corn starch mixed with 1/4 C water to the sauce and stir. The jajang sauce should thicken up but will have less intense flavor.
- Chunjang(춘장) and Jajang(짜장) are used interchangeably when referring to the black bean paste. Sometimes you may find 볶음짜장(bokkeum jajang) which means it’s already been fried in oil in which case you can skip step 3.
- For a richer sauce, use chicken broth instead of water. Watch out for saltiness though since chicken broth already has quite a bit of sodium. Use low sodium chicken broth or use half broth and half water.
- Serve a side of Danmuji 단무지 (Yellow pickled radish) and some fresh onions slices with the chunjang as a dipping sauce. These two are a must side dish when eating Jajangmyeon. Oh and Kimchi too!
- Make Gyeran Guk (Korean egg drop soup) and serve together – especially when you are serving rice with black bean sauce.
If you love noodles, you will LOVE these!~❤️
- 1/2 cup Chinese black bean paste (춘장 chunjang/choonjang)
- 1/2 cup or 3 fresh , dried or fresh shitake mushrooms, chopped (optional)
- 3 oz (80g) pork loin, cut into cubes
- 1 medium size onion , chopped
- 1 1/2 cup cabbage , chopped
- 1/2 cup zucchini , chopped
- 1 carrot , chopped (optional)
- 2 green onions , chopped
- 1/2 cucumber , julienned (as garnish)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 servings fresh noodles for jajangmyeon or kal guksu
- Chop all vegetables into small cubes.
- In a non-stick frying pan, add equal amount of chunjang and oil to pan on medium/medium low heat. Stir often, cook for 7 min.
- In ANOTHER pan, add 2 T oil to pan on medium heat. Sauté onions and cabbages for 10 min or more until onions become translucent.
- Remove chunjang from pan. It should be easy to bunch up the cooked chunjang and remove from oil.
- Discard the leftover oil in pan.
- Remove onions and cabbages from pan and set aside. Sauté pork on med-high heat for 2-3 min in the same pan.
- Once pork is cooked, return onions, cabbages to pan. Add 1 T oil and remaining vegetables. Sauté all ingredients on med-high heat for 5 – 7 min. Veggies should still be slightly crunchy.
- Add cooked chunjang paste to pan (step 8) and stir everything, making sure the paste coats the ingredients evenly.
- Stir fry for 2 min. Add 1 C water and 1 T sugar. Cook until the sauce is reduced to half. Reduce further for more condensed flavor.
- Fresh noodles are best. If you can buy one’s that says “짜장면 국수”, it should work fine.칼국수 (Kalguksu/Kalgooksoo) also works fine. cook noodles in boiling water for 7-10 min (based on package directions) and rinse in cold water.
- Serve noodles topped with sauce.
Substitute white rice for noodles for Jajangbap.
Add some fresh julienned cucumbers as topping.
Substitute chicken for pork if you'd like.
For richer sauce, use chicken broth but watch for salt content.