Jajangmyeon (Black Bean Noodles). Thick wheat noodles with a savory black bean sauce with pork belly, onions, cabbage, zucchini, and cucumbers. This is a popular Korean-Chinese noodle dish that serves as total comfort food to many. Ready in 30 minutes!
Whenever I'm watching a Korean drama, the first thing I crave is this dish! The taste of those thick chewy noodles in that rich brown sauce with bites of pork and vegetables makes my mouth water just thinking of it. After many years of making this comforting dish repeatedly, I've perfected my recipe and can't wait to share it with you.
What is Jajangmyeon?
Jajangmyeon (자장면), aka jjajangmyeon (짜장면) or Zha Jiang Mian in Chinese is a Korean-Chinese noodle dish. It was created by early Chinese immigrants in Korea and it is now iconic in Korean cuisine. You'll find it served at many Korean restaurants and sometimes at your Chinese restaurant. This popular Korean-Chinese dish is made of Korean-style black bean paste sauce with pork belly, ground pork or ground beef, with zucchini, potatoes, cabbage, and onions.
Why is Jajangmyeon so popular?
In South Korea, this popular Korean noodle dish is regularly eaten on a special day like on graduation, birthdays or a special occasion to celebrate. In addition, this popular black bean noodle dish is often displayed being slurped down in many Korean dramas or in mukbangs.
This dish is often enjoyed with Tangsuyuk, which is a Korean-style Sweet & Sour Pork. The pairing is favorite food among many Koreans and is now become widely available through home delivery. You'll often see delivery men or women with huge steel boxes strapped to the backs of their bikes. They're delivering white plastic bowls of these incredible noodles covered in cling film with small dishes of danmuji. Danmuji is pickled daikon radish.
What does Jajangmyeon taste like?
Picture thick chewy wheat noodles smothered in a savory sauce with pork belly, zucchini, cabbage, onion, potatoes and green onions for an aromatic flavour! On top of the noodles are sliced cucumbers with a side of pickled daikon radishes.
Why You'll Love this Dish
This is a simple delicious noodle dish you can make at home in 30 minutes or less in one pan! The cooking process is simple and doesn't require too many steps.
You’ll need the below ingredients for this jajangmyeon. Please scroll down to below full recipe card for exact measurements.
Note: Your Korean or most Asian grocery stores will carry these ingredients. You may find some at your select grocery store or online, like on Amazon.
- Korean wheat-based noodles: I highly recommend using fresh noodles for this recipe. You can also use dry wheat noodles, but I find they're not as thick and chewy. Wheat-based noodles are simply made of wheat flour, salt, and water. You can normally source these noodles at most Korean grocery stores in the refrigerated section.
- Pork belly: or substitute with ground pork or beef. I recommend pork belly for this recipe because it offers more texture to the dish.
- Korean black bean paste, aka Chunjang: the key ingredient to our jajangmyeon sauce. This ingredient can usually come in a jar or a plastic package at any Korean grocery store. When this ingredient is fried in oil or in pork fat, it becomes our jajang sauce.
- It's usually located in the sauce aisle where you find gochujang, doenjang (soybean paste) or ssamjang.
- If you cannot find the Korean version, as a very last resort, you may substitute with the Chinese version of black bean paste but it has slight variations to the Korean kind.
- Neutral oil: like avocado oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil or canola oil. Avoid olive oil, coconut oil or any heavy scented oils.
Vegetables & Seasoning:
- Green cabbage: I recommend green cabbage as it doesn't release too much water into the sauce over other types of cabbage.
- Zucchini: this squash is fantastic for this dish as it offers more fibre and it's not overpowering in taste, so it doesn't distort the taste of the black bean sauce.
- Green onion: for aromatics and color.
- Oyster sauce: or substitute with vegetarian stir fry sauce. This seasons the sauce and gives it more depth in flavor.
- Cold water
- Cornstarch (or sub with potato starch)
- Sugar: to help balance the salty flavors in the sauce
- Cucumber: thinly sliced for garnish
- Pickled daikon radish: aka danmuji in Korean
How to Make Jajangmyeon
Below are visuals to show you how to make this. ***Please scroll down to the recipe card below to find full instructions and details***
Prepare sugar and cornstarch slurry.
In a small bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and water. Mix well and set aside.
Fry Black Bean Paste
In a large skillet set to medium heat, add avocado oil or any neutral oil and fry black bean paste for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly. Pour black bean paste and oil into a separate bowl, leaving about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan. Strain and discard the excess oil and reserve the black bean paste. Frying the black bean paste in oil helps to remove the bitterness. Do not skip this step.
Fry pork belly in the same oiled pan until cooked and browned on edges. This pork fat will make the sauce extra delicious so don't pour it out.
Cook aromatics & vegetables
Add yellow onions and green onions and fry until softened. Then add in zucchini and cabbage and fry until softened.
Creating the finished sauce
Add back in cooked pork and black bean paste. Mix well.
Give your cornstarch slurry another mix and pour it into pan and mix well. Simmer the black sauce until it’s thickened.
Season with oyster sauce.
Cooking & Plating Noodles
In a large pot of water, boil the noodles on high heat uncovered for 3-4 minutes until al dente.
Transfer the noodles to a large serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the noodles.
Note: We want to boil the noodles after the sauce is complete to prevent the chewy noodles from becoming soggy if you were to cook them before the sauce.
Garnish with julienned cucumber or pickled daikon radish. Enjoy!
Fry the black bean sauce
The trick to making this extra delicious is frying the black bean paste in oil first. This prevents the paste from being too sticky and makes it more smooth and less bitter.
Dice veggies and meat
This will make things easier when you mix the sauce into the noodles. This applies to the cooked veggies and meat, except for the cucumbers which you can julienne.
Boil noodles after sauce is made
We want to boil the noodles after the sauce is complete to prevent the cooked noodles from becoming soggy if you were to cook them before the sauce.
FAQ & Substitutions
Where can I buy Korean-style black bean paste?
Black bean paste is available at many Asian and Korean grocery stores. Search for it in your sauce aisle. It should look something like the below. Alternatively, you may be able to find this paste online, like on Amazon.
Substitutes for Korean black bean paste?
The next best substitute is Chinese black bean paste. Unfortunately, after that, there aren't many other substitutes that can replace this ingredient.
Where can I buy Korean Wheat Noodles?
Korean wheat noodles are available at the Korean markets, and I recommend buying fresh Korean noodles. The label will say "Fresh Wheat Flour Noodles". You can also buy the dried kind, but they are not as thick and chewy as the fresh kind. If you cannot find either, feel free to substitute with udon noodles or even cooked instant noodles.
Can I substitute oyster sauce with another alternative?
Yes, feel free to substitute with vegetarian stir fry sauce which is a vegan version of oyster sauce. Or substitute with soy sauce to taste.
Yes! Feel free to add other seasonings like sesame oil or even chili oil to enhance the rich sauce.
Substitutes for Pork Belly?
Yes, I'd recommend ground pork, chicken, or beef. However, a side note: the pork fat in the pork belly really lends a delicious and deep flavour to this dish!
Can I use napa cabbage?
I do not recommend using napa cabbage. Use the regular green cabbage. Napa cabbage releases more water and a specific taste that alters the taste of the sauce.
Is it vegan?
Traditionally these Korean black bean noodles are not vegan. However it can be made vegan by omitting the protein and oyster sauce and substitute the oyster sauce with vegetarian stir fry sauce for depth of flavor.
Other recipes you may like!
Easy Jajangmyeon - Korean Black Bean Boodles
- 1.20 lbs thick wheat noodles fresh kind recommended or sub with udon noodles
- 0.66 lbs pork belly chopped into smaller pieces
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 cup green cabbage chopped
- 1 cup zucchini diced
- 2 stalks green onion finely chopped
- ⅓ cup Korean roasted black bean paste aka Chunjang
- 3 tablespoon avocado oil any neutral oil
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce or sub with vegetarian stir fry sauce
- ¾ cups cucumber thinly sliced for garnish
- pickled daikon radish
- In a bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch and water. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet on medium heat, add avocado oil or any neutral oil. Fry black bean paste for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly. Pour black bean paste and oil into a separate bowl, leaving about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan. Strain and discard the excess oil in the bowl reserving the black bean paste.
- Fry pork belly in the same oiled pan until cooked and browned on edges.
- Add onions and green onions and fry until softened. Then add in zucchini and cabbage and fry until softened.
- Add back in cooked pork and black bean paste. Mix well.
- Mix the cornstarch slurry and pour it into pan. Mix well. Simmer until it’s thickened. Season with oyster sauce.
- In a large pot of water, bring to a boil. Boil noodles for 3-4 minutes until al dente. Strain.
- Transfer noodles to a large serving bowl. Pour sauce over noodles. Optional: garnish with cucumbers and enjoy with pickled daikon radish.
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