- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- Serves 1
If Americans have delivery pizza, then Koreans have jjajangmyeon (often romanized as jajangmyeon), a popular black bean noodle dish studded with fatty pork. In Korea, you can order it over the phone and have a bowl delivered to your door in a matter of minutes. It’s not uncommon to see delivery men biking around the city with huge steel boxes on the backs of their bikes, filled with white plastic bowls of these incredible noodles, tightly wrapped with cling film and served alongside small dishes of danmuji (Korean pickled daikon radish, a lurid yellow dream) and raw white onion (which tastes great doused in vinegar and dipped in black bean sauce). Once you finish your bowl, you can leave it outside your door, unwashed and all, and the delivery person will come back in a few hours to retrieve it.
Mostly, the reason jjajangmyeon is the perfect meal for one is that it’s contained in a single bowl—and offers comfort on a day that leans into feelings of loneliness and solitude. It doesn’t hurt that, in Korea at least, you never have to leave your apartment or change out of your pj’s for a bowl of this comfort.
My Black Day is February 14. I’ve always found Valentine’s Day an annual reminder to take care of myself, and to celebrate my independence. Pretending that Feb. 14 doesn’t exist is a cynically boring way to go about the holiday, however plastic and Hallmark-manufactured it is. My thought is: Why shouldn’t single people get to celebrate love? Even more when it’s self-love? —Eric Kim
Test Kitchen Notes
Featured in: Why I Eat Korean Black Bean Noodles Every Valentine's Day. —The Editors
noodles, such as jjajangmyeon, thick spaghetti, or linguine fini
pork belly, finely chopped
finely chopped onion
heaping tablespoon roasted black bean paste
Freshly ground black pepper
small handful julienned cucumber, for garnish (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and cook the noodles to your liking (I prefer al dente). Drain and rinse with cold water, then plop into a bowl.
- Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Cook the pork, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until some of the fat has rendered out and the pork is slightly browned at the edges. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for another 1 to 2 minutes, until no longer raw. Stir in the black bean paste and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add ¼ cup of the cooking liquid from the noodles to the pan with the sauce, bring to a boil, and let thicken and reduce by about half. Add the sugar; season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Transfer the noodles and sauce to a bowl. Garnish with the cucumbers.