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. —Eric Kim
Bring a 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 tap water, then plop into a bowl.
Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and pork belly and pan-fry for about 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 sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes until no longer raw. Stir in the black bean paste and fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta to the pan with the sauce, bring to a boil, and let thicken and reduce by about half. Season with a pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Top the noodles with the sauce and garnish with julienned cucumbers.
Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he is currently working on his first cookbook, to be published by Clarkson Potter in Spring 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at Saveur, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times and follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho. Born and raised in Georgia, Eric lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson.