Some dishes in the Asian culinary canon have dozens of variations, depending on whether you’re conversing with a Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, or anybody from the region. Many foods originally from China have made their way to other countries, where they have been altered to suit local palates. Have you tried Chicken Manchurian, for instance, at an Indian buffet?
One such delicacy is black bean noodles. Jajangmyeon, the Korean equivalent, is made with pork belly, zucchini, potato, onion, daikon radish, and chunjang. It’s different from the original but just as tasty in its own way.
This dish is popular in Chinese Korean eateries, but it’s simple to recreate at home if you have the correct paste.
Black bean paste (chunjang) is sold in a black plastic tub, red pepper paste (gochujang) is packaged in a red plastic tub, brown soybean paste (doenjang) is packaged in a brown plastic tub, and the green plastic tub contains a blend of gochujang and doenjang used for Korean BBQ. Yes, the last one is the least obvious, but still!
Easily understandable even for complete novices.
- 225g of pork belly (cut into small cubes)
- 2 diced small onions
- 2 peeled small potatoes (cut into ¼-inch cubes)
- 1 zucchini (cut into ¼-inch cubes)
- 1 small seedless cucumber (cut into thin matchsticks)
- 2-3 cups of water
- 1 cup of daikon or Korean radish (cut into ¼-inch cubes)
- ½ cup of chunjang
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons of potato starch
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- Fresh Korean noodles
- Yellow pickled radish and cut raw onion
- Preheat a pan or wok with 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat. Cook the pork belly in a wok until it’s brown and crispy. Low stirring at high heat is the key! A large amount of accumulated pork fat in the pan can be discarded.
- Stir-fry the radishes for a minute before including them in the mix alongside the onion, zucchini, and potato.
- Stir-fry the potato for a few more minutes, or until it has become translucent.
- Make room for the remaining two teaspoons of oil and the center of the wok or skillet. Korean black bean paste (chunjang) should be added to the oil and allowed to fry for a full minute in the center of the pan. Combine the components and stir.
- Cook the sauce at a rolling boil for 2 minutes after adding the water. Reduce to a simmer and cover to hold heat in for 10 minutes. Your Korean noodle dish will turn out perfectly at this time (follow the instructions on the package). Because this recipe yields so much sauce, it may be stored in the fridge and used later to toss with freshly cooked noodles.
- Once the potato has cooked for 10 minutes, check to see if it is done. Add the potato starch slurry once it’s done cooking, and whisk until thick and shiny. The final touch is the sesame oil.
- Sprinkle some cucumber on top of the noodles and serve. Pickled radishes and diced onion are traditional accompaniments.