Growing up, we’d often order jajangmyeon at our local Korean-style Chinese restaurant. Jajangmyeon is a traditional Korean noodle dish that is a combination of pork and wheat noodles in a black bean sauce. It originated in China but made its way to South Korea with Mandarin Chinese immigrants, who adapted the dish for the Korean palette. The Korean version has more sauce and a richer flavor, and usually has less fat on the pork and in the sauce.
One of my fondest food memories was watching the chef hand-pull the noodles, transforming the dough into even strands of beautiful noodles by pulling, stretching and twisting it in the air. I was in awe whenever I watched the chef perform his magic, as the noodles danced and floated in front of him until they were the perfect thickness. He did this all for a single bowl of jajangmyeon. Today, most Korean-style Chinese restaurants serve jajangmyeon with factory-made noodles, so finding hand-pulled noodles is a real treat.
My version of jajangmyeon is a healthier version of the dish, as I use less oil and and leaner pork to try and cut down on the fat. I also pre-marinate the pork, which ensures tender pieces of meat. This sauce is rich and full of great flavor, and I love to eat a big bowl of these noodles with a side of cabbage kimchee or takuan. Enjoy!
Serving Size: 4
Sunflower oil or organic canola oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped into 1/2″ in pieces
1/2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2″ pieces (3/4 cup)*
1 small Yukon gold potato, 1/2 ” dice (3/4 cup) – parboiled for 5 minutes
8 ounces of par-cooked, marinated pork (recipe below)
2/3 cup of fermented black bean paste**
2 teaspoons of organic sugar
1 tablespoon of organic soy sauce
1 1/2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of organic cornstarch
22 ounces of fresh jajangmyeon noodles or Chinese wheat noodles (medium thickness)**
1/2 cup of julienned cucumbers (seeds omitted)
1. Heat a wok to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, add all the chopped onion. Sauté for about 3 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil.
3. Add the cut zucchini pieces to the wok with the onions. Sauté for 2 more minutes.
4. Add the par-cooked pork and potatoes to the wok.
5. Add the black bean paste. Stir to incorporate.
6. Add the soy sauce, sugar and water and bring it to a boil.
7. Meanwhile, add the noodles into the boiling water. Follow the instructions on the package. Rinse and set aside. (You want to time the noodles so they will be ready when the sauce is done)
8. Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Stir into the sauce.
9. Cook and stir until thickened.
10. Divide the noodles evenly into four bowls. Ladle a generous amount of sauce into each of the bowls. Top with some julienned cucumbers and serve with cabbage kimchi.
* When cutting the zucchini, remove the center seedy potion. The section with the seeds becomes mushy when cooked. Then dice the zucchini to 1/2″ pieces as shown.
** Fermented black bean paste and jajangmyeon noodles can be found at your local Korean supermarket.
Marinated pork recipe
8 ounces of lean pork chuck or tenderloin
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of organic cornstarch
1 teaspoon of organic soy sauce
1 teaspoon of Shoxing wine or Sake
1. Dice the pork into small pieces just shy of 1/2″
2. Place the cut pork in a small bowl and sprinkle with baking soda. Mix well and let it sit for 10 minutes (I would suggest using a timer for this step because you do not want exceeded the time allotted or the pork will be too tender.)
3. After the 10 minutes, add the cornstarch, soy sauce and the wine. Stir and let sit for 2 minutes.
4.Meanwhile heat a wok to high. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once oil gets hot, add the marinated pork. Leave undisturbed for 30 seconds.
5. Using a wooden spoon stir and sauté for about one minute.
Place in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.