Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jajangmyeon 자장면

I know that this dish is not strictly a Korean dish because it was derived from a Chinese dish, but for the sake of this post let us pretend that it is purely Korean. The dish is quite easy to make, it is almost as simple as making pasta. With the twist being
that is is Asian and not Italian.

Jjajangmyeon was first created in the city of Incheon, where early Chinese migrants to Korea began to settle in the late 19th century. The dish was arguably first developed in a Chinese restaurant called Gonghwachun (공화춘; 共和春 - meaning Republican Spring) in Incheon around 1905. The city of Incheon sponsored the "100 year anniversary of the birth of jajangmyeon" in 2005.

The dish originated from zha jiang mian (炸醬麵, literally "fried sauce noodles") in China's Shandong region. The pronunciation of the dish's name is nearly identical to that of its Korean counterpart. But Korean jajangmyeon differs from Chinese zha jiang mian, as Korean jajangmyeon uses black Korean chunjang including caramel, and onions that Chinese zha jiang mian does not use. Korean-style jajangmyeon has also been gaining popularity in China recently.

Jjajangmyeon uses thick noodles made from white wheat flour. The noodles, which are made entirely by hand and not by machines, are called sutamyeon (수타면; 手打麵) are praised in South Korea as an essential ingredient of good jjajangmyeon.

The sauce is made with a dark soybean paste called chunjang (춘장). The paste, which is made from roasted soybeans and caramel, is called chun

jang when unheated, while the heated sauce (containing vegetables and meat or seafood) is called jjajang (literally "fried sauce"). Chunjang is stir-fried with diced onions, ground meat (either beef or pork) or chopped seafood, and other ingredients. When cooking the sauce, usually meat stock is added to reduce the salty taste of cooked chunjang, and potato starch or cornstarch is added to give the sauce a thick consistency. The sauce is served hot over noodles, sometimes with sliced raw cucumbers.

Jjajangmyeon is always served with a small amount of danmuji (단무지). The dish is often served with a small amount of sliced raw onions, seasoned with rice vinegar, accompanied with a little jajang sauce. The diner eats the noodle with danmuji and onions dipped in jjajang sauce.
There are a number of variations available for the dish.
Including ganjajangmyeon (간자장면), which is jjajangmyeon served with the jajang sauce without the starch, with the sauce and noodles being served separately in different bowls, and samseon jajangmyeon (삼선자장면), which incorporates seafood such as squid, shrimp, sea cucumber, and others (but never fish). Samseon ganjajangmyeon (삼선간자장면) consists of noodles served with sauce, which contains seafood on the side.

Instant jjajangmyeon is also popular in South Korea. Dried noodles is boiled in the same manner as instant ramen with dried vegetable bits, drained, and mixed with jjajang powder and a small amount of water and oil.

Now for my version of the dish.

Cooked Noodles (Thick in size and chewy) 300 g
Pork 50 g
Onion 1/2 of a whole
Potatoes 50 g
Zucchini 30 g
Ja-jang sauce 3 Tbs (available in all Korean grocery stores)
Cooking oil 3 Tbs
Corn Starch 1 Tbs
Water(or Broth) 1/2 Cup
Ginger, black pepper, sesame oil

1. Cook the noodles in boiling water and rinse them off with cold water.

2. Cut the onions, zucchini and potatoes into pieces, approximately 0.5 cm in length.

3. Also cut the pork in the same fashion (0.5 cm in length).

4. Slowly stir the ja-jang sauce in cooking oil at a simmer. (The cooking oil should shrink the ja-jang sauce in half in content.)

5. Mix the corn starch with water. (1 Tbs of corn starch to 2 Tbs of water is fine).

6. Cover the frying pan with oil and cook the pork with chopped ginger until the pork is completely cooked. Then add in the chopped vegetables and stir-fry some more. Then add one cup of water and let it come to a boil. Add in the corn starch/water mix and let it come to a boil.

7. Place noodles on a bowl and pour the ja-jang sauce over the noodles.

I know that it doesn't look the appetising from the photos, but it is REALLY hard to take photos that look good when you have a lot of black sauce on top. But it does taste amazing so I hope that will make up for the bad photos. This dish is also not spicy so it is something that everyone should try, it is really filling too.

Anyways, that is all from me. I hope you guys have a great week. And I might not be posting for a while because I have exams coming up in two weeks and I need to study. We'll see what happens though.

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