Jajangmyeon (Noodles in Black Bean Sauce)

(photo updated April 2014)

 

As mentioned in my last post on jjambbong (spicy noodle soup), this sweet and savory noodle dish, jajangmyeon (or jjajangmyeon), is another popular Korean-Chinese noodle dish. It’s a huge part of Korean food culture. Everyone loves it. Deeply embedded in the childhood memories of most Koreans, it is a well-loved dish that parents often treat their children to on special occasions, such as graduation, exam days, birthdays, etc. In recent years, jajangmyeon has become a symbolic dish that single people eat with their friends on Black Day to commiserate with each other over black noodles.   

(photo updated April 2014)

 

If you have the Korean black bean paste called chunjang (춘장), this dish is very easy to make at home. The black bean paste is first fried in oil. This process helps remove the bitter taste of the bean paste. The fried (or roasted) black bean paste is called jjajang (짜장). You can buy either one from most Korean markets. A little bit of sugar is important to balance out the bitterness and saltiness of the black bean paste. Pork is the classic option for the meat, but of course you can substitute it with any meat or seafood. The typical vegetables added are onion, cabbage, zucchini, and potato. I used good chicken stock to give the sauce extra flavor, but water is fine too.

2 servings
Ingredients:

12 – 14 ounces fresh jajangmyeon/udon noodles
(See jjambbong recipe.)

5 tablespoons Korean black bean paste (chunjang or jjajang)
2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)

4 ounces pork loin  
1 tablespoon rice wine (or mirin)
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
salt and pepper

1 large onion 4 ounces cabbage
1/2 zucchini (about 4 ounces)
1 tablespoon oil
(canola or vegetable oil)
cucumber matchsticks for garnish (optional)

1 cup chicken stock (or water)
1 tablespoon potato or corn starch*, dissolved in 1/4 cup of water

Have a pot of water ready to cook the noodles. Turn the heat on when you start cooking the meat. This way you will have the boiling water ready, for cooking the noodles, by the time the sauce is done.

Prepare the pork and vegetables by cutting them into 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes. Marinate the pork with a tablespoon of rice wine (or mirin), ginger, salt and pepper while preparing the vegetables.

 

Add the black bean paste to a small saucepan with the oil, sugar, and the optional oyster sauce. Fry it over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly. (If using pre-fried/roasted black bean paste, you can skip this process. Just add the sugar and the optional oyster sauce when stirring in the bean paste.)
 
Heat a large pan with a tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add the pork and stir fry until no longer pink. Add the vegetables and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.

 

 
Stir in the black bean paste and mix everything together until all the meat and vegetables are coated well with the paste.

 

 

Pour in the stock (or water) and bring it to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

 

 

Stir in the dissolved starch and cook briefly until the sauce is thickened. Add more sugar to taste. Add the noodles in the boiling water. Cook according to the package instructions and drain. Do not overcook. The noodles should have a firm bite to them. Place a serving size of noodles in each bowl. Spoon the sauce over the noodles and garnish with the optional cucumber matchsticks.

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Comments

  1. Oh, I love jjajangmyeon! Great post–I have been asking a lot of my Korean friends why it is necessary to fry the chunjang before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, so your explanation is very helpful! I still wonder, though: if the chunjang is going to be cooked in the following steps to the point of boiling, is it truly necessary to pre-fry it? I have never pre-fried the chunjang in the times I’ve made this dish, and I always find the end result tasty. But maybe I am missing out on authentic flavor?

    I am always torn over this issue–do I want to do it the authentic way or do I want to save the calories by skipping the frying step? I would be curious to get your thoughts on this!

  2. I’ve never eaten authentic jjajangmyun because it has pork in it. I usually get gan jjajangmyun with beef instead.

  3. Hyosun, this looks like comfort food that I would enjoy over and over again. Is Korean black bean paste similar to the Chinese kind? Either way, I think I’d like this. :-)

  4. Oh, Hyoson! I LOVE jjanangmyun. I haven’t had it in so long. I’d love to make some but I need to get that black bean paste first.
    I think a trip to Koreatown is in order!

    PS This is Roxan from kitchen meditation! I have a new blog :)

  5. My sister used to eat jajangmyeon at her best friend’s house all the time growing up. I’ve never had it myself but my sister, in an effort to feed her addiction, would buy the packaged grocery store version and eat it at home.

    Of course, that’s nowhere near as good as the original but now that I have this recipe, I think I’ll surprise her and make it sometime :)

  6. erica – Pre-frying is a traditional technique used to remove the bitterness and fully develop flavor of the bean paste. The rule of thumb is to use 1:1 (chunjang to oil), enough to have a deep frying effect, which would be hard to achieve if simply stir-fried with meat and vegetables and boiled. (We know how good deep-fried food tastes.) This is what restaurants and professional chefs usually do.(Some actually use pork fat for richer flavor.) However, like you, I am a little concerned about using that much oil, so my recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of oil to fry 5 tablespoons of chunjang. So the choice obviously is yours, but I suggest you try pre-frying using healthy oil to see how different it is to you. Hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by. I am always happy to see you here.

  7. Tammy – Thanks for stopping by!

    Jean – The Chinese black bean paste is similar, but not the same. For authentic flavors, you will need to use Korean black bean paste. Hope you try the recipe. You will like it. Thanks for stopping by.

    Roxan – It is really easy to make, so get that bean past in your next trip to a Korean market. Thanks.

    Ali – I am sure your sister will be impressed if you make this for her at home. Great to hear from you. Thanks.

  8. looks delicious!

  9. Yum this looks delicious. I found a Korean market near my house so I’ll have to see if they have the paste

  10. Looks good! I have been wanting to try jajangmyeon for a while now.

  11. Jjangjangmyeon instant noodle has always been my childhood favourite. Kinda suprised how very different it tasted from the real stuff when I first tried it 10 years ago. And how rare it is to find the good authentic one, I tried a few specialty restaurant in Seoul… and still disappointing. I’m still on the look out for the best on in Seoul next time I go there in August.

    Oyster sauce? Is that commonly used?

  12. I love jajangmyeon, and I have been wanting to make it at home for long time now as I’m a bit worried about all the fat in the restaurant version (I can’t handle too much fat very well because of my gallstones). Thanks for the recipe! It’s going my my “list!” :)

  13. Michelle K says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have made this two days in a row. It is that good. And it’s so easy to make. My Korean husband thanks you too. Now my Korean sister-in-law is asking me where I got the recipe. I would love to see a cook book with your recipes. I have many Korean cook books, but often the pictures look great, but the dish doesn’t taste that good and involves way too many odd ingredients. So your blog is my go to place when I am cooking. Thank you for that.

  14. I’ve seen this many times featured in other blogs and I have been wanting to try it but haven’t done so till now. You remind me how delicious it looks (and sounds). As an avid noodle lover, I really shouldn’t wait much longer…;)!! Btw, I’m so glad to find your blog because I love Korean food :D)

  15. Chris – Thank you!

    Stephanie -Hope you can find the paste and give the recipe a try. Let me know how it turns out. Thanks.

    Kevin – Hope you try it and let me know how you like it. Thanks for stopping by.

    Pierre – I am glad to hear you will be going to Seoul this summer. Hope you find the best jajangmyeon you’ve been looking for. Oyster sauce is very common in Chinese cooking, and it adds another layer of flavor.

    Andrea – That’s what’s good about making it at home. You can control everything that goes in to the dish. I think you’d really like this recipe. Hope it turns out to be your family favorite. Thanks.

    Michelle K – Oh I am so thrilled to hear you and your husband liked it. Thank you so much for the kindest words. They mean a lot to me. Let’s hope to see my recipes in a cookbook one day.

    Cooking Gallery – Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment.

  16. Hi Hyosun! I’m hoping my comment works this time. I tried to leave you a comment on your last post seafood noodle post about a week ago but I received an error message.

    I never knew that there were Korean Chinese restaurants! I love black bean sauce dishes and frequently order them at the Chinese restaurant. I need to go to our local Korean supermarket to look for this black bean sauce. I purchased and Americanized instant black bean sauce but I was disappointed. I’m sure I’ll love the black bean paste you’ve recommended! Have a great week!

  17. Hi Judy – I am sure LA has many good Korean-Chinese restaurants. I think you should try to go to one. It will be a memorable experience. They are quite different from Korean restaurants but still uniquely Korean.

    For this dish, you will really need Korean made black bean paste. If you like other black bean paste dishes, you’d really like this dish. Thanks always for stopping by.

  18. Your pictures are so beautiful and now I want to make this tomorrow for dinner! This was my absolute favorite dish growing up and it was the only thing I would ever order at the Korean-Chinese restaurants. My mom or dad would say, “How about Jjamppong today?” and I would always say no!

    I have made this dish many times and it is almost like yours, except for the cabbage and oyster sauce! I will have to try that. I also stopped using pork and potatoes (lately I don’t like them). Do you think shrimp is a good substitute? Also, do you ever add garlic? I have seen some recipes that put that in too. Thank you so so much for this blog. It continues to be my inspiration and motivation to become a better Korean cook!

  19. invisaligngal – Of course shrimp would be a great substitution. Restaurants also add squid in their seafood version. Just remember to put it in at the end to avoid overcooking. I have not tried it with garlic since I really don’t think garlic pungency is necessary in this sweet and savory dish. But I am sure a little bit of garlic would be fine.

    Thanks a lot for the encouraging words! I really appreciate it.

  20. I’ve never tried this but it sounds very tasty. Black beans are so good with pork. As always, I love how you present your dish :)

  21. Hi there! There are many different brands of jjajiang paste at the Korean Grocery store. Is there a brand that you recommend? Thank you! I think I’ll make this next. I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

  22. Whoops! I just saw that you posted a picture of the brand you prefer. Thank you! I’m going to try this! Ill write again after I make this. Thank you!

  23. Oh, I love this dish,Hyosun!! Brings back so many wonderful memories as a child in Korea! My most favorite noodle dish to eat. Unfortunately it is most difficult to get good jajangmyeon in Savannah. I guess I will need to make it myself using your wonderful recipe! :) THANK YOU!!

  24. Hi Hyosun! Thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog, and I’m so happy to find your site! My mom loves Korean cultures and she goes to Korea A LOT. She actually teaches quilts there a few times a year. She told me all about Korean food and she’ll enjoy your site! I love Korean food and often go to a restaurant. As for Korean home cooking, I used to have a great Korean friend who cooks Korean food for me. But he went back to Korea and I’ve missed so much of his cooking. Now with your blog, I think I’ll start Korean home cooking more. Not just BBQ… home cooking! Jajangmyeon is my favorite noodle too. What a coincidence!

  25. Hi. Do you have a cook book in English for all these wonderful Korean recipes…with step by step pictures???

  26. Anonyomous – Thank you! I wish I do, but hopefully one day that would happen.

  27. Thanks for posting this, I made a slightly modified version of your recipe and all of the family loved it!

    I made it vegetarian by using tofu and sliced king oyster mushrooms instead of pork, which worked well (I think the mushrooms give it a richer, meatier taste & texture than the tofu alone). I had to substitute a few things because I didn’t have the ingredients to hand: chinese black bean sauce instead of Korean, a yellow pepper instead of zucchini, and spaghetti instead of the noodles (my kids are some of the few children in the world who don’t like noodles, but they do like pasta so the only way I can cook noodle dishes is to sub spaghetti!). I also added sweet potato as I found another recipe for jajangmyeon that included them and I had one lying around & wanted to pack lots of veggies in.

    So it probably didn’t turn out very authentic, but we all enjoyed it anyway – I can imagine eating this a few more times over the winter, as it’s very tasty, comforting sort of food that will go down especially well in the colder weather. I’ll have to hunt down Korean black bean sauce and make it properly next time!

  28. Sas – Thank you so much for leaving me detailed comments about various ways my recipe can be modified. Sounds like you are a great cook! Let me know how it goes when you use Korean black bean paste. Cheers!

  29. I like to eat my jjanangmyun with pickles sometimes in place of the cucumbers

  30. it makes me watery ahahaha …. I really want to try that , but only no pork on it hehehe

  31. I just made this for my Korean son’s 2nd birthday celebration….we all loved it! So, so good! I’m also excited that there’s a Korean market close-by where I can pick up the authentic ingredients. The only drawback? The noodles aren’t gluten-free (I have a wheat allergy), so next time we’ll go with rice. :)

    • Very happy to hear you and your family loved it. This sauce served over rice is called jajangbap. It will be good. Thanks!

    • Good to know, thank you! I just realized today that the black bean paste also has wheat flour in it. :( Sad, but I can’t NOT have this every once in a while. My first Korean dish, and I can’t wait to make more…Thanks for making cooking Korean so accessible!

  32. I had often read that jjajangmyeon is mostly eaten by loveless people during Black Day. Whatever! I eat mine anytime I like because it’s delicious.

  33. Anonymous says:

    How do you make the black bean paste itself?

  34. I made this for my husband for the first time today. He’s been talking about eating it for so long but his mom doesn’t make it anymore and no restaurants have it here either. I’m so glad I found the recipe here. My MIL is a fabulous cook but isn’t a good “teacher” of Korean food. I agree with others that I would LOVE to see you have a cookbook someday.

  35. I recently went to Korea and had this dish quite a bit there and have tried making it back home in Australia. Finding the Black Bean paste has been difficult. I asked at an Asian Grocery store if they had Black Bean paste and they handed me a jar of Black Bean Sauce telling me it is the same thing. They then also said I could buy fermented black beans and make the paste myself, which I did, by blending the beans with a little water, however my dish turned out brown. :( Flavour was still good compared to what I experienced in Korea.

    Any idea how to make the black bean paste?

  36. Hello, I’ve borrowed a photograph from this post for a blog entry about Valentine’s day (and White day and Black day) on my blog. I have linked it to this post. If you would rather I find a different photograph let me know and I will take it off, no ill will was intended but I wanted to let you know (here is the link so you can check, and not to advertise myself http://thegoodthebadthequirky.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/happy-valentines-day.html). Best wishes.

  37. Thank you for this recipe. This was my favorite dish when I was stationed in Korea (US Army) in 1984. I’ve been to many restaurants looking for this dish with no luck. I’ll be making this on Saturday.

  38. Hyosun,

    Hello, I know this is an old post, but if you get to see my comment… I’ve tried to make this dish twice and both time they come out such a fail. I’m using the pre-fried and it’s just so salty, way saltier than when I buy it at a restaurant. I wonder if it’s the brand I’m using (Wang) or if using chunjang would make it less salty. Any thoughts? Thanks,
    Soyon

    • Hi Soyon – I haven’t used Wang brand, but I know certain brands are saltier than others. You can try it using less paste, more liquid, and more sugar. Also, if using chicken stock, use low (or no) sodium. Let me know if any of these helped. Thanks!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for posting this! When I lived in Seoul as a student we would order Korean-Chinese food take out (we were very amused that Chinese food was a take out food in Korea just like in the US… for some reason we thought Chinese would be a more “sit down” meal in Korea). There was no English on the menu so we just ordered blindly until one day we ordered this dish! From then on it was the only thing we ordered, we all loved it so much. We tried to get the delivery guy to teach us how to say it, but I never mastered it enough to know the English spelling, so I could look it up. I stumbled upon this recipe today and it made me so happy! Thank you!

  40. I made this recipe using chunjang, substituting tofu and mushrooms for pork. It turned out really salty and bitter. I don’t think I used enough oil when frying the chunjang, but is there anything else I can do to take away the saltiness?

    • Some brands are saltier than others. Try using more oil and fry longer. The rule of thumb is to use 1:1 (chunjang to oil), though I used less. You can remove some of the oil after frying, so don’t be too afraid to use more oil. Also, using more sugar and liquid will help. Let me know how it turns out with these tips. Thanks!

  41. Anonymous says:

    I was able to easily make a vegan version of this. It came out great. Just Google for the recipe.

  42. First I’ve tried it at my favorite restaurant, now I’ve cooked it myself. Thank you so much for this recipe, I will make it on a regular basis from now on. Used seafood since I’m not a fan of meat, still turned out great.

    • Hi Robert – So happy to hear it turned out great for you! Seafood in jajangmyeon is always good. BTW – We call seafood jajangmyeon “samseon jajangmyeon”. Cheers!

    • I know :-) I am studying your beautiful language too. Now just on my own, but for the basis I had Korean help. Great people, great food, beautiful language, culture, hope to visit someday.

  43. I love this dish. I made this for my parents who hate to try anything new and they loved it too. Now I get request for it and jajangbop. I have also learned to make kimchi as well.

  44. I am so excited to find this recipe!! I studied abroad in Korea in 2005 and competently fell in love with the country AND the food!!!! I had this dish a lot as takeout when we were out eating late night. Unfortunately, there are not many Korean markets in CO. I will find one though! Thank you so much!

  45. Yum !!!! This looks and sounds totally cool !!! I’m sure finding half the stuff u mentioned above is going to be literally impossible here in India

  46. Denny Li says:

    I’m in Atlanta, GA where there is a huge Korean population. I remember the first time I ordered this at a Korean/Chinese restaurant and being completely surprised. I thought it would be more Chinese -i.e., brown with more stuff in the sauce. I’ve liked it enough to order it a few more times, but always felt like there’s too much sauce and not enough meat/seafood/vegetables. I find myself digging for the “good stuff”. Now that I have your recipe, I can bump up the meat and veggies. I’ve brought all the ingredients from H-Mart and am ready to cook. Thanks so much!!

  47. Hey! I want to try this so bad, but I dont eat meat :'( What would you suggested subbing in? eggplant?

  48. I just made this recipe this evening and wanted you to know how delicious it was! Do you think it would work to make the sauce a day in advance and just heat it up and add the noodles before serving?

    Thank you!

    • That’s awesome! Thanks for letting me know. Making the sauce in advance will be fine. Just save the last step for adding the starch until you reheat.

  49. Hello,

    My husband loves eating this Jajangmyeon and asked me if I could learn how to cook. I am very excited to come across your blog; but I am a little confused when I went to a Korean supermarket to find the black bean sauce, can you please tell me what’s the difference between “Fermented Black Bean Paste” and “Roasted Black Bean Paste”? Which one should I buy for this noodle?

    Thank you very much for your time and effort!!

    • You can buy either the Korean black bean paste called chunjang (춘장) or the roasted (or fried) black bean paste called jjajang (짜장). The black bean paste should be first fried in oil for this sauce. This process helps remove the bitter taste of the bean paste. So, if you buy the latter, you can skip the frying step. Hope this helps. Cheers!

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  1. […] paste), making not-quite-authentic “Korean inspired” stews. I really want to make jajangmyeon, but I’ll have to visit a Korean market in Moore to find the right kind of black bean […]

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