Monday, October 3, 2011

Jjajangmyun 짜장면

I got one for ya: what do ramen and jjajangmyun have in common? Alright, yeah, they're both delicious and both involve noodles. But what I was looking for was that they're both originally from China and took root in another country to be developed into a new, important part of that country's food culture; ramen in Japan and jjajangmyun in Korea.

It was very interesting to me to learn that about jjajangmyun, because I'd first come to know of it as a Korean dish, and only afterward learned that I'd had the Chinese version occasionally over the years, too. (Hey, you don't ask for the name of every dish you eat at home, right? Oftentimes there isn't an official name and it's just a thing people make.) The Chinese version is called 炸醬麵 zhajiangmian and has a different flavor profile. According to Wikipedia, there are also specific noodles for the Korean dish.

The recipe I followed when I made mine was Maangchi's. It's interesting also that jjajangmyun is considered Chinese food in Korea, as it's apparently served in all the Chinese restaurants in Korea. (Alright, this is probably less noteworthy to people who had zhajiangmian more often than I have and associate it strongly with Chinese cuisine. Zhajiangmian is northern Chinese, and Taiwan is far to the south.) This is similar to how ramen is considered Chinese cuisine in Japan (and sometimes served with potstickers and fried rice in restaurants--two other Chinese imports). Though, it seems that ramen may have developed much further away from its origins into a Japanese thing, with all its specific regional variations, than jjajangmyun has in Korea. I can't say I know very much, though. Anyway, the sauce is a specific Korean sauce called chunjang (spring sauce), that is a black colored soy bean sauce.

After making this (successfully), I've been intrigued to try making the Chinese version, now. I'll have to seek out a recipe.

 Pork belly is always delicious. Next time I'll cut it into cubes, even though that means separating the layers.

Looks kinda scary, I know. But it's excellent.

This is just before I added the chunjang. Once I did, I was a little worried since it didn't darken the stew up nearly enough to look like it does in restaurants.

But then I add the potato starch and in just about a second, it looked just right. Really in an instant. Corn starch, on the other hand, I often have trouble with.


  1. I've seen this in Korean movies, and it always looks sooo good. Always wanted to make it. Yours look like delicious comfort food

  2. Thanks, Thuy! Heheh, Maangchi mentions that it's commonly seen in Korean dramas, too.