Jajangmyeon. Zhejiangmian. However you spell it, jajangmyeon is the delicious fried bean sauce noodle that is uber addictive, its glossy black sauce smothered atop chewy noodles or white rice. If you’ve ever tried this before, you’d know this is classified as complete comfort food.
There are two main versions: jajangmyeon (Chinese-Korean) and zhajiangmian (Beijing). The Korean version is pitch black, corn or potato-starch thickened and packed with vegetables and pork belly. The one originating in Beijing is lighter in colour, a touch sweeter and made of a yellow soybean paste, ground pork and topped with julienned vegetables. I love both versions. And I have veganized both of them as well with excellent results. But for now, we’ll be focusing on the Korean version.
I’ve made this recipe a couple of times, mainly because chunjang jars are so large! Chunjang is the roasted fermented black bean paste which jajangmyeon features and where its dark-as-night black colour derives from. If you ever step foot into an H-Mart, you maybe overwhelmed with the number of pastes they feature. Chunjang is no exception. There are typically two different styles of the sauce: fried or unfried. I’m actually unsure of which version I got - I basically had asked a store clerk to determine which one was the best and she steered me in the right direction. When trying to pre-fry the sauce or to mix directly into the vegetable, I’d always go with the former. The flavour is more pronounced and much richer.
Because we’re cooking up a vegan version of this recipe, the pork belly, which is traditionally used, is omitted. I’ve increased the amount of vegetables here and honestly, I don’t miss the pork at all.
Once all of your vegetables are chopped, it’s a quick fry up until all the vegetables are cooked and you’re practically done in under 30 minutes - great for an easy meal any night of the week.
JAJANGMYEON - serves 4
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup chunjang (Korean roasted fermeted black bean sauce)
2 tsps mirin or 2 tsps granulated sugar
4 (200g) pkgs udon noodles
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, sliced
1/4 head white cabbage, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small potato, diced
2 cups water
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup water
1/2 cucumber, de-seeded and julienned
In a small pan, fry the chunjang with the oil and mirin until fragrant, about two minutes over medium-high heat. Set aside.
In another pot, cook your udon noodles according to packaged directions, drain and set aside.
In a large wok, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and saute until it starts showing a bit of colour, about three minutes.
Add in the rest of the vegetables and stir-fry until all the vegetables are coated in oil.
Add in the fried bean sauce. At this point, the chunjang will generously colour your vegetables.
Once all of the vegetables are coated, add in the water and the corn starch slurry and cook until the sauce is thickened. You are free to add in more water if you’d like a looser sauce. Lower the heat down to medium and cook for another 7 minutes or until the vegetables are completely cooked. Remove from heat.
To assemble, place the 1/4 of the udon noodles into a bowl and top generously with the jajang sauce. Finish with julienned cucumber.