Sauté

Jjajangmyeon (Korean Black Bean Noodles)

by:
January  3, 2022
4.6 Stars
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

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

Ingredients
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces noodles, such as jjajangmyeon, thick spaghetti, or linguine fini
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces pork belly, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 heaping tablespoon roasted black bean paste
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small handful julienned cucumber, for garnish (optional)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Transfer the noodles and sauce to a bowl. Garnish with the cucumbers.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lili
    Lili
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • Darian
    Darian
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.

3 Reviews

Lili January 21, 2020
Not exactly the same jajangmyeon that koreans would eat. No sesame oil? A few key ingredients were missing but if you're not really concerned with authenticity, then this is probably okay. Simple and easy to make.
 
Darian February 21, 2019
I made this last night, still thinking about it!! I scaled up x3 and found it made 4 comfortable servings. I used a 12oz box of bucatini and chopped pancetta. I topped with scallions instead of cucumber because I had them, and because I thought my family would prefer it that way. SO SO GOOD!! Thank you!
 
Eric K. February 21, 2019
Great to hear, Darian. Thanks for reporting back!