This jjajangmyeon recipe features Chinese-style egg noodles smothered in a savory black bean sauce and topped with fresh cucumber and bean sprouts for a satisfying and flavorful meal.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ lb pork belly cut into small chunks
- ½ large onion diced
- 1 medium zucchini diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 cups water
- 5 tablespoons roasted black bean sauce also called "bokkeum jajang"
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce (optional)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup water
- black pepper
- 1 lb fresh jjajangmyeon noodles or kalguksu noodles
- 1 small cucumber thinly sliced
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Add pork and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add onion, zucchini, and garlic and cook until vegetables are softened, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add water, black bean sauce, sugar, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with soy sauce if needed.
- Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce and continue to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with black pepper and keep warm.
- Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain. Portion noodles into bowls and spoon sauce on top. Garnish with sliced cucumbers and fresh bean sprouts. Serve hot.
Watch how to make this:
Jjajangmyeon is one of those dishes that everyone loves. I have yet to meet anyone, child or adult, who dislikes these noodles. Yes, they are that tasty. And the plus side? It's easy to make!
Jjajangmyeon is a rib-sticking noodle dish from China that is widely popular among Koreans. Koreans have their own version of the dish with black bean sauce while the Chinese version uses a brown bean sauce. The sauce may differ slightly but both dishes consist of noodles tossed in a bean sauce cooked with meat and garnished with cucumber. I love both versions equally but today I'm dedicating this recipe to the Korean variation. Enjoy a side of tangsuyuk for the full Korean experience!
- Pork belly: Jjajangmyeon usually includes pork. I chose pork belly because the pork fat from the belly adds great flavor to the dish. However, you can choose a leaner cut such as pork loin or pork shoulder as well. Alternatively, substitute with chicken or beef instead or shrimp or scallops for a seafood version.
- Roasted black bean sauce: A savory and slightly sweet sauce made from fermented black soybeans, garlic, and other seasonings. It is commonly used in Chinese and Korean cuisine to add flavor to stir-fries, noodles, and marinades.
- Vegetables: This recipe includes the basic vegetables, zucchini, and onion, however, you can bump it up and add more vegetables. Some great options include cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and even potatoes.
- Fresh jjajangmyeon noodles: For the best results, use fresh noodles. Other options include kalguksu noodles or udon noodles.
How to Make Jjajangmyeon
Step 1: Cook the Pork
To make the sauce, start by preparing the pork. Chop the pork belly into small bite-size chunks and then heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot. Add the pork and saute until beautifully browned. Add the vegetables including the onion, zucchini, and garlic, and saute just until they become soft. The vegetables are going to continue simmering in the sauce so you don't want to cook them until they're mushy.
Step 2: Add Seasonings
Add the black bean paste along with water, and sugar, and let it come to a simmer. You can also use chicken stock to add a little more flavor. Taste the sauce and season with soy sauce if needed. Some black bean sauce brands are saltier than others so you may or may not need to add soy sauce.
Now, we want the sauce to be slightly thick so that it can coat the noodles. That's where the cornstarch slurry comes in handy. I remember my friend tried making jjajangmyeon but forgot to add the cornstarch. Let's just say, it ended up being a soup rather than a sauce. Season the sauce with black pepper and keep it warm while you prepare the noodles.
Step 3: Putting it All Together
Cook the fresh noodles according to the directions on the package and drain. Since they're fresh noodles, they shouldn't take too long to cook. If you want to go all out, you can make your own noodles but I find that the market versions are just as good.
Portion the noodles into bowls and top them with a generous amount of sauce. Garnish the bowls with fresh thinly sliced cucumbers and bean sprouts for extra crunch and serve immediately.
There are different variations of this Korean-Chinese version of jjajangmyeon. Some people like to add potatoes, and cabbage, or even use ground beef. As long as you have the black bean sauce as the base, the vegetables and meat can be easily substituted. Have leftover sauce? Spoon it on some rice and top it with a fried egg for an easy and comforting meal!
Is the Chinese black bean sauce the same as the Korean black bean sauce?
No, they are different variations of black bean sauce. You want to purchase the roasted black bean sauce, specifically called "bokkeum jajang." Depending on the brand, some are saltier or sweeter than others so you may have to adjust the recipe according to the brand. If you can't find bokkeum jajang, you will have to take an extra step and fry the black bean sauce. To do so, heat an equal amount of the black bean sauce with oil in a pan over medium heat. Stir often and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove the sauce from the pan and discard the leftover oil. Then, proceed with the recipe.
What are some other variations of this dish?
Gan-jajangmyeon is a richer version with a condensed sauce. Samseon-gan-jajangmeyon is the surf and turf version with 3 kinds of seafood, pork, and vegetables. Sahcheon-jajangmeyon is the spicy variation and uni-jajangmeyon has ground meat instead of chopped meat.
Can I make this dish ahead of time?
While it's best to serve jjajangmyeon immediately after cooking, you can prepare the sauce ahead of time, and store it in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve, the sauce and cook the noodles, then combine and garnish before serving.
For more Asian noodle inspiration check out this Korean bibim gook soo recipe!