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 Gan Jajang, so it’s milder in flavor
- 삼선간짜장면 Samseon Gan 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
You can easily make Gan Jajangmyeon by omitting the cornstarch slurry and thickening the sauce but just cooking longer to reduce the sauce.
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, shrimps or 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!
- What Noodles to buy – Fresh noodles (국수 guksu) are best for Jajangmyeon. Buy one’s that says “짜장면 국수” but 칼국수 (Kalguksu/Kalgooksoo) will work too. I use this one often.
- Make your own Noodles – follow my recipe in my Kalguksu post and make these amazing noodles.
I’ve tried it with this Jjajang sauce and it was AMAZING!! Just make sure to rinse the cooked noodles in cold water and drain.
Servings: 3 Cooking Time: 35 min Difficulty: Medium
Ingredients for Jajangmyeon
- 1 pack of fresh noodles for Jajangmyeon or kal guksu (or homemade)
- 1/2 cup Chinese black bean paste (춘장 chunjang/choonjang)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (for sauteeing chunjang)
- 3 Tbs vegetable oil (for sauteeing veg)
- 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 Tbs sugar
- 1 cup water
- Cornstarch slurry – 1/4 cup water + 1 Tbs cornstarch
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. 🙂
- Start boiling a pot of water to cook the noodles. If using store-bought noodles, cook according to package directions. Usually 7-10 minutes. See my note on noodles above. Or, if you made your own homemade noodles with my Kalguksu recipe, then follow direction over there. But rinse and drain the noodles in cold water when they are cooked. Set aside.
- Prepare ingredients below:
2. Chop all vegetables and pork into small cubes. Julienne cucumbers to use as garnish.
3. In a non-stick frying pan, add an equal amount of chunjang 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. Remove chunjang from pan. It should be easy to bunch up the cooked chunjang and remove from oil. Discard leftover oil in the pan.
4. WHILE the chunjang 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 onions and cabbages from pan and set aside. Sauté pork on med-high heat for 2-3 min in the same pan.
6. 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.
7. Add the sauteed chunjang paste to pan and stir everything, making sure the paste coats the ingredients evenly.
8. Stir fry for 2 min. Add 1 cup water or chicken broth and 1 Tbs sugar. Mix and simmer for 1-2 min.
9. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir. Keep stirring for 2-3 min. until the sauce thickens. Alternatively, to make Gan Jjajangmyeon, omit the slurry and just cook until the sauce is reduced to half. Reduce further for more condensed flavor.
10. Sauce is now ready!
Just add noodles or rice to a bowl and top with this amazingly yummy Jjajangmyeon sauce, garnish with some julienned cucumbers.
- How to make Gan Jajangmyeon? – In step 8, instead of adding cornstarch slurry just reduce the sauce until it’s reduced by 1/2.
- 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!~❤️
Jjajangmyeon (Blackbean Sauce Noodles)
- 3 servings fresh noodles for jajangmyeon or kal guksu
For Sauteeing Black Bean Paste
- 1/2 cup Chinese black bean paste (춘장 chunjang/choonjang)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
To finish sauce
- 1 medium size onion , chopped
- 1 1/2 cup cabbage , chopped
- 5 oz pork loin, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup or 3 fresh , dried or fresh shitake mushrooms, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup zucchini , chopped
- 1 carrot , chopped (optional)
- 2 green onions , chopped
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 cup water or chicken broth
Cornstarch slurry (optional - omit for Gan Jjajangmyeon)
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cucumber , julienned
- 3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Boil a pot of water for noodles. Cook noodles in boiling water for 7-10 min (based on package directions) and rinse in cold water.
- NOTE - Fresh noodles are best. You can buy one’s that says “짜장면 국수” or "칼국수"(Kalguksu/Kalgooksoo) - both work fine. You can also make your own homemade fresh noodles by following my recipe in my Kalguksu post.
- Chop all vegetables and meat into small cubes. Julienne cucumbers to add as garnish.
Make Sauteed Chunjang
- 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.
- Remove chunjang from pan. It should be easy to bunch up the cooked chunjang and remove from oil. Discard the leftover oil in pan.
- 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 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 and stir everything, making sure the paste coats the ingredients evenly.
- Stir fry for 2 min. Add 1 C water and 1 T sugar. Mix. Simmer fro 3-4 min.
- Add the cornstarch slurry and stir for 2-3 min. It's ready when sauce has thickened to a little thicker than gravy consistency. Omit this step and just reduce the sauce to make a more conentrated Gan Jjajangmyeon.
- Serve noodles topped with sauce and then some julienned cucumbers.
Tips & Notes:
- Substitute white rice or leftover fried rice for noodles for Jajangbap.
- Substitute chicken or beef for pork if you'd like.
- For richer sauce, use chicken broth but watch for salt content.
- Serve with some Kimchi or Danmuji 단무지 (pickled yellow radish) and some raw onions with uncooked chunjang.