Today we will talk about jjajangmyeon (blackbean noodles), one of the most popular dishes in South Korea. It consists of wheat noodles served with a black and sweet sauce called chunjang, made from roasted soybean and thickened with cornstarch and sweetened with caramel. The sauce can be prepared in many ways: the vegetarian version is prepared with carrots, cucumber, courgettes, onion and other vegetables while the non-vegetarian version also include pork, beef or seafood like squid and shrimps but not fish. The taste is very rich and the contrast of flavors is enjoyable. The thickness of sauce (due to the starch) are a perfect match for the chewy noodles. Pickled radish and raw onion are the selective side dishes for jjajangmyeon to refresh your palate. (photo from tumblr.com)
The origin of this dish are from China, but there are many differences. The Chinese version is more simple, including pork, bean paste and sliced cucumber and the sauce is salty. After Jjajangmyeon was introduced to Korea and it was modified according to Korean taste, it was a dish served for special occasions like weddings or birthday. Things have changed in the last 30 years and it has become a casual dish. You can find many Jjangmyeon shops all over Korea and it can be ordered and delivered at home. After ordered it you will received within 30 minutes and after have consumed it, you can leave the bowl and cutlery outside of your step door for the delivery guy to take it back. Of course Jjajangmyeon is also available in instant packet in every convenience store.
Jjajangmyeon has become an icon of Korean food culture as much as kimchi and people enjoy during their every day life. It has also been featured and celebrated in TV shows, songs and movies! One of the latest Korean movies I have watched “Castway on the Moon”, include scenes where Jjajangmyeon is the object of desire of the island-castaway main character.
I strongly suggest to try this dish when going to Korea, enjoying preferably with friends at home.
Stay tuned for the next dish!