Jja jang myun
I just realized I'm posting two Korean recipes in a row. Everytime I watch Korean dramas, I want to eat kim chi, seaweed soup and samgyubsal. And by the 20th episode, I find myself talking in a higher pitch, getting more animated than usual. I even have thoughts of being grabbed by my wrist suddenly by Hub who is saving me from someone, and we start running. Or if I'm particularly difficult, he grabs my legs and slings me over his strong shoulders and strides off, me pounding his back. If I've been bullied and offended, I say something like "Buoya!" and slap the offender on the face. If I'm really mad, I throw a glass of water into her face. If I was the offender, I would kneel and grab the legs of the person I want forgiveness from, walking on my knees after him/her. If you watch Korean dramas with me, and you enjoy these scenes, you'd hate having me around because I usually watch them on the floor. There's more space to roll.
Jja jang myun is the Korean version of the northern Chinese jja jiang mein, meaning deep-fried sauce noodles. The biggest difference between the two versions is that the Korean jang is black in color (because of the black bean and soy sauce) while the Chinese jiang is brown in color because brown bean paste is used. If you ask my (un)biased opinion, Chinese ja jiang mein tastes better because brown bean sauce is more fragrant and it is less threatening-looking than the tar-colored Korean jang which has a slight caramelized flavor. Although Chinese jang is the authentic version, like the Japanese gyoza which is really Chinese jiaozi or potstickers, Korean ja jang myun is more well-known. The irony is that jja jang myun was adapted for Korean taste by Chinese restauranteurs.
Korean-style Chinese black bean sauce is 'chunjang' (not doejang) and is very black and thick.
This is a super easy and inexpensive dish to prepare. You can do the sauce days earlier. There's meat, veggies and starch so it's a complete meal. I don't like potatoes in my ja jang sauce but it's up to you. Add enough veg so that the sauce is not too salty. Great dish for students who are sick of pizzas.
Korean Ja Jang Myun (serves 5-6)
500 g pork or chicken*, in cubes or minced
1 cup each of zucchini, carrots, potatoes, bell pepper, peas
1 large brown or red onion, in small cubes
200 g Korean black bean sauce
1 T sugar (or to taste)
1 heaped T corn starch or potato starch
3 T water
1 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
drizzle of sesame oil
cucumber strips for garnish
2 T veg oil
500 g fresh or 350 g dried wheat noodles
* Pork is the traditional meat for this dish and is usually cut into cubes. I've used coarsely ground minced pork since I'm cooking extra for my in-laws and my mom.
1. Cut the veggies into small cubes. Put the oil into a heated pot and fry the onions until they become transparent. Add the meat and stir-fry until it has turned white.
2. Add the black bean sauce, stirring well. Add the harder -o-cook veg such as carrots and potatoes. Stir, add the stock/water and put the lid on.
3. Add the veggies according to their cooking time, adding the veg that cooks fastest last. I usually under-cook the veg because they continue cooking in the pot after the heat is off. Taste and add more bean sauce if necessary. Add the sugar to taste. Thicken the sauce with the corn starch mixed with the water.
4. Boil the noodles until el dente, drain well and serve the sauce on top with the cuke strips for garnish. Drizzle some sesame oil over if like.