Black bean sauce and noodles- Jajangmyeon 자장면

This is one of Tae’s favorite foods and also of Koreans, though I had to develop a taste for it, but it has also become one of my favorites as well.

It was my first time in Korea and my first meeting with my husband’s entire family and even though back home we ate Korean food every day, I still had my American foods I could mix in and Sunday dinners with my parents. I had not gotten used to eating “real” Korean food 24/7. This was the dish that made me realize how sensitive I was to these exotic foods.

To be completely honest, the first time I tried this dish, I could barely bring myself to even eat 1/4 of it without feeling sick (I now know that it was the noodles that made me feel sick, as other Korean wheat noodles give me this problem, typically the dried ones). Luckily, almost all Korean restaurants have Coca Cola and I found that when feeling a little nauseous when trying something new, Coke will help you get through it so you don’t offend your in-laws!!! (also ice cream after!!!) I have a special fondness for Coke now! I don’t drink it much because I know that high fructose corn syrup is really bad for me, but when weighing the issue of HFCS to offended in-laws I think I know what is most important.

I also learned that I can push through trying new foods and eventually come to love the food. Not the greatest thing for my kids, when I tell them they get to try something new. They just don’t get much sympathy.

I also learned that a month of eating Korean without a break, was something I couldn’t seem to adjust to, as would probably be true anytime you go outside of what you were raised on. My husband cannot eat American food 24/7. I can still remember the first time we ran out of rice a few years back and he panicked. It would have been equal to the panic I would have had if Korea had decided to not purchase Coke.

At this point I make this dish at least once a month for lunch and enjoy eating it. The jajang is not gluten free and even though I have searched, there isn’t one that is. (I am attempting to try to make one to share later). I do use rice based noodles to pour the sauce over. By far the noodles pictured below are our favorite for texture and taste. (we actually found these at Kroger and could not find them at Hmart!)

If you are not watching gluten intake, the noodles for jajangmyeon are found in the frozen section and are delicious! These are fresh pasta noodles, not dried. One of the rows is typically a serving, but it is shareable if you don’t have the appetite of a Korean. (I usually share mine)

The meat we use in this recipe is pork belly, but we tend to buy an entire side of pork belly which is essentially bacon, before it is processed. It can also be pricey, so pork butt is a good substitute. You need a slightly fatty meat.

The pork belly is sliced like bacon and then chopped up, This would essentially be the same for pork butt, you are essentially trying to make small pieces of pork. Now for the recipe!!

Jajangmyeon-serves at least 5

2 cups of sliced pork belly or pork butt
1 cup of diced onion
4 cups of diced potato
1 1/2 cup of diced Korean radish
1 1/2 cups of diced zucchini
1/4 cup of water
2 TBSP sugar, honey, or maple syrup
1/4 cup of the bean paste
1/4 of an English cucumber
1 Package of noodles

Fry the pork in a pot until it is fully cooked and a little brown. Add the onion until it is transparent and caramelizing.

Once the pork and onion are cooked add the potato, radish, and zucchini. Cook these for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the 1/4 cup of water to the pot and cover. Stir this occasionally to make sure the vegetables are not burning.

(Don’t forget to start the noodles!!) While this is cooking, it is a great time to cut up that cucumber into julienne strips. Cut the cucumber on and angle to get longer strip of cucumber (the Korean way of cutting veggies!!)

Once the radish and potatoes are fork tender, add the bean paste and extra water if necessary to make a thick stew. (If you add too much water, thicken it with corn starch, or tapioca starch, so that it isn’t runny, it needs to be thick enough to sit on top of the noodles when scooped) Once the noodles are done and drained. Take a serving out and put it into the bowl. Pile the jajang stew on top and place cucumber strips on top. mix and eat!!!
Hope you enjoy this as much as we have come to!