Jajangmyeon or Korean black bean noodles is a popular Chinese-Korean fusion dish topped with a thick, savory black bean sauce made with chunjang (black bean paste), diced pork, and vegetables. It's one of the ultimate Korean comfort foods!
Jajangmyeon, Korean black bean noodles, is one of the ultimate Korean comfort foods amongst jjampong, tangsuyuk, and budae jjigae.
This Korean noodle dish is topped with a savory and mildly sweet, black bean sauce made with Korean black bean paste, cubed pork, and vegetables. You've probably seen it garnished with some julienned cucumbers too.
We like to eat our jajangmyeon with some kimchi and danmuji (yellow pickled radish). What do you like to eat it with?
- What is jajangmyeon (Korean black bean noodles)?
- What does jajangmyeon taste like?
- Zha jiang mian vs jajangmyeon
- What noodles to use for jajangmyeon
- How to make jajangmyeon (Korean black bean noodles)
- What to eat with Korean black bean noodles
- Recipe Tips
- How to reheat jajangmyeon
- 📖 Recipe
What is jajangmyeon (Korean black bean noodles)?
Jajangmyeon (짜장면), also known as Korean black bean noodles, is a Korean noodle dish topped with a thick black bean sauce made with chunjang (black bean paste), diced pork and veggies.
You'll often find jajangmyeon topped with julienned cucumber, sesame seeds, hardboiled egg, or fried egg.
What does jajangmyeon taste like?
The overall flavor of jajangmyeon is dependent on the brand of chunjang (Korean black bean paste) you use.
Generally speaking, jajangmyeon is savory and mildly sweet due to the onions and vegetables added. Korean black bean noodles use fresh noodles, which gives it a nice bouncy, slightly chewy texture.
Zha jiang mian vs jajangmyeon
Chinese zhá jiàng miàn (炸酱面) and Korean jajangmyeon both stir fry their base sauce in some oil before using. They're also both kind of savory and sweet.
In terms of differences, jajangmyeon is made with Korean black bean paste (chunjang). As for zha jiang mian, the base paste used varies dependent on the province you visit. The most well-known is Beijing style zha jiang mian, which uses both sweet bean/wheat paste (甜面酱 - tián miàn jiàng) and yellow bean paste (豆瓣酱-dòu bàn jiàng).
Main ingredients for Korean black bean noodles:
- Korean fresh noodles - You can find these at most Korean grocery stores and Asian markets. We used the classic medium thick noodles. They're a little thicker than spaghetti. These will give your jajangmyeon that beautiful bounce and chew.
- Skinless pork belly - Try to pick a pork belly on the meatier side. We chose this cut because traditionally, jajangmyeon is cooked with lard. So some fat from the pork belly will make the black bean noodles more tastier.
- If you want a leaner cut, you can use pork should/butt or country ribs instead.
- Yellow onion - This adds natural sweetness and some texture to the jajangmyeon sauce. A must have.
- Korean zucchini - Zucchini is a classic vegetable in Korean black bean noodles. You can use regular zucchini as well.
- Cabbage (optional) - You can omit the cabbage if you prefer, but it adds some freshness and sweetness to the jajangmyeon sauce. Either green or white cabbage can be used.
- Garlic and ginger - Adds flavor to the sauce and also helps get rid of any unwanted porky smell/taste.
Ingredients to make jajangmyeon sauce:
- Korean black bean paste (chunjang) - The base flavor of Korean black bean noodles! Korean black bean paste tastes earthy and salty. You can find this at Korean markets and most Asian markets, next to the gochujang and doenjang.
- Oil - For frying the black bean paste. Any neutral oil will do.
- Oyster sauce and sugar - Additional seasonings for the jajangmyeon sauce.
- Water - For the sauce. You can use chicken or vegetable stock if you prefer.
- Cornstarch slurry - For thickening the jajangmyeon sauce. Just mix equal parts of cornstarch with cold water. Make sure to stir it before adding to the sauce.
What noodles to use for jajangmyeon
It's best to use Korean fresh noodles for jajangmyeon. They are bouncy and with a slight chew, which is exactly what you want for Korean black bean noodles. You can find these at Korean grocery stores and almost any Asian markets as well.
We used medium thickness fresh noodles. It's a little thicker than spaghetti. You can also use the wider fresh noodles or kalguksu (knife cut) noodles as well. If you can't find any of those, udon noodles can be used as a substitute.
How to make jajangmyeon (Korean black bean noodles)
Make the jajangmyeon sauce:
1. In a small nonstick pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the Korean black bean paste and stir fry for about 3 minutes. Make sure to constantly stir the black bean paste to prevent burning. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.
2. Strain the excess oil from the black bean paste into a large pot. Add a little more oil if needed to lightly cover the bottom of the pot. Heat the oil over medium high heat and once hot, add the diced pork belly. Stir fry until the pork belly is rendered and golden brown.
3. Once the pork belly is rendered, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 10 to 20 seconds or until they are fragrant.
4. Add the onions, zucchini, and cabbage and stir fry for a couple of minutes, until the vegetables just start to wilt.
5. Once the vegetables starts to wilt, add the stir fried black bean paste, oyster sauce, and sugar. Mix well and cook until everything is well coated with the black bean paste.
6. Add the water and bring everything to a boil. Then reduce the heat allow the sauce to cook at a moderate simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until your desired saltiness.
📝 Note: The saltiness of your jajangmyeon sauce can depend on the brand of noodles you're using. Some noodles are saltier than others, so adjust how much sauce to reduce as needed.
Cook the noodles:
7. While the jajangmyeon sauce is simmering cook the noodles. Place the noodles into a pot of boiling water and stir occasionally. Cook according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles and rinse with water. Make sure to drain well then portion the noodles into serving plates/bowls.
🌟 Pro tip: Have the pot of water heating on your back burner before you start making the jajangmyeon sauce so that you won't have to wait for the water to boil. Also, Korean fresh noodles are usually dusted with cornstarch so it'll thicken up the water and tends to boil over. So make sure to use a large enough pot.
Finish the sauce and serve:
8. Once the sauce is done simmering, stir up the cornstarch slurry and drizzle it into the sauce while stirring. Let the jajangmyeon sauce simmer for a few seconds and it'll thicken up and become super glossy.
📝 Note: The amount of cornstarch slurry used for the sauce is based on 10 to 15 minutes of moderate simmering. If you reduce the sauce more or less, you may need to adjust the amount of slurry needed, depending on how thick you prefer the sauce to be.
9. Ladle your desired amount of sauce over the noodles and garnish with julienned cucumber if you wish. Mix together the noodles and sauce and enjoy while hot!
What to eat with Korean black bean noodles
Korean black bean noodles are usually garnished with julienned cucumbers, sesame seeds, sliced green onions, hardboiled egg, and/or fried eggs.
On the side, Korean black bean noodles are enjoyed with banchan (side dishes) like danmuji (yellow pickled radish), kimchi, raw onion slices with some black bean paste.
Also, you'd common see jajangmyeon eaten with tangsuyuk (Korean sweet and sour pork). It's a very popular pairing and often served as an entree combo.
- Render the pork belly. If you're using pork belly, especially if it's a fattier slab, make sure to render it as much as possible.
- Don't skip the bean paste stir frying step! Stir frying the black bean paste helps bring out the fragrance and also get rid of its slightly bitter flavor. Just make sure to not burn it!
- Don't overcook the vegetables. The purpose of stir frying the vegetables is not to cook them completely. It's just to wilt then slightly and coat them with some oil/fat. We want to keep some freshness and crunch for texture.
- Adjust the thickness and saltiness of the sauce to your preference. How much to reduce the jajangmyeon sauce kind of depends on how salty you want the sauce. So first reduce the sauce to your preferred saltiness. Then, thicken with the cornstarch slurry to your preferred thickness.
For any leftover jajangmyeon sauce, transfer to an airtight container and let cool before refrigerating. It'll stay good in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
For the noodles, it is best to only cook as much as you can eat in one sitting.
How to reheat jajangmyeon
It may be surprising, but jajangmyeon sauce is one of those sauces that tastes even better the next day.
To reheat the sauce, add it to a saucepan with a small amount of water (like a couple of tablespoons) and heat medium heat until hot. You can also microwave it as is until heated through.
If you have leftover jajangmyeon sauce, but no noodles, you can eat it over some steamed white rice instead. This is called jajangbap. We like to add a fried egg to it. It's amazing and super tasty as well!
Jajangmyeon is generally accepted to have derived from Chinese zha jiang mian, so it's considered a Chinese-Korean fusion dish. But do note that they are prepared with different ingredients and taste different.
You'd often find jajangmyeon topped with julienned cucumber, sesame seeds, sliced green onion, hardboiled or fried egg.
No. Jajangmyeon is not supposed to be bitter. It should be savory with a mild sweetness. If the jajangmyeon is bitter, either the black bean paste (chunjang) was burnt when stir frying or it wasn't stir fried long enough or not at all.
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Jajangmyeon (Korean Black Bean Noodles)
Main ingredients for jajangmyeong:
- 4 bundles Korean fresh noodle
- 1 pound skinless pork belly small diced (or pork shoulder/butt)
- 1 medium yellow onion small diced
- 1 Korean zucchini small diced (or regular zucchini)
- ⅙ large green cabbage roughly chopped (about 2 cups; white cabbage works too)
- 4 cloves garlic minced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1 inch ginger peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- english cucumber julienned (for garnish - optional)
- Boil a pot of water:Prepare a pot of water on the back stove and bring it to boil. This will be for the noodles later.
- Stir fry the black bean paste (chunjang):In a small nonstick pan, heat up the ¼ cup of oil on medium heat. Add the black bean paste and stir fry for about 3 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly. Remove the black bean paste from heat and set aside until needed.
- Stir fry the pork belly and vegetables:Strain the leftover oil from the black bean sauce into a large pot. If needed, add a little more oil to the pot so that the bottom is lightly coated. Heat the pot over medium high heat and once the oil is hot, add the diced pork belly.
- Stir fry the pork belly for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown and most of fats are rendered. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for about 10 to 20 seconds or until fragrant.
- Then, add the onion, zucchini, and cabbage. Stir fry the vegetables for a couple of minutes or until they just start to wilt slightly.
- Add the stir fried black bean sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar into the pork and vegetables and stir fry for a minute or until everything is evenly coated in the bean paste.
- Simmer the jajangmyeon sauce:Add the water and bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to keep it at a moderate simmer. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or to your desired saltiness.*Depending on the brand of noodles you are using, it may be saltier or bland. If your noodles are on the bland side, you may want to reduce the sauce a bit more so that it'll balance your noodles, and vice versa.*
- Cook the noodles:While the jajangmyeong is simmering, boil your noodles. Place the noodles into the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain the noodles and rinse in cold water and drain well. Portion the noodles into serving plates/bowls.
- Finish the sauce and serve:After simmering the sauce, drizzle in the cornstarch slurry and give everything a stir. After a few seconds of simmering, the sauce will thicken and become super glossy.*The amount of cornstarch slurry listed is based on 10 to 15 minutes of moderate simmering. If you reduce the sauce more or less, you may need to adjust the amount of slurry used, accordingly.*
- Ladle the jajangmyeon sauce over the noodles and top the jajangmyeon with some julienned cucumbers.
- Serve the noodles while the sauce is hot. Mix the noodles and sauce to enjoy!
- Pork belly - If you prefer a less fatty cut, use pork shoulder/butt instead. You won't have to stir fry it as long either.
- Cabbage - This is kind of an optional vegetable for jajangmyeon. You can omit it, but you may need to add a bit more sugar to replace the sweetness from the cabbage.
- Thickness of the jajangmyeon sauce is sort of based on personal preference and how salty you like your sauce. If you reduce the sauce more or less, do adjust the amount of slurry used.
- Saltiness of your sauce - This can be dependent on the brand of noodles you use. Some noodles are saltier than others, so keep that in mind when you simmer and reduce your jajangmyeon sauce.