Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Korean Food! Jajangmyun tutorial!

I was not a super adventurous eater growing up (I am now!) so, as a child, there were only a few Korean foods I would eat. Jajangmyun is one I would and could eat as often as I was allowed. It's tasty, filling, not spicy and oh so comforting!

Fast forward many years after I have moved out on my own and didn't have my Korean mom to cook good Korean food for me any more. Sure, there are noodle places around where I could probably get a good jajangmyun but with kids who are even less adventurous eaters than I was as a child, there was no way I was taking my family there to eat. So it dawned on me. Why not try my hand at making it at home? I did and, you know what? It was delicious! So for you out there who'd love to try this dish of awesomeness, here is my picture tutorial for making jajangmyun.

You'll need:

1/2 pound pork, any kind, diced.
1 cup of any of these veggies, small dice(use all or just a few, up to you): Korean radish, Korean (white) sweet potato, white potato, carrot, zucchini
2 cups of flavorful (aka not Vidalia) onion, small dice
1 cup of Korean-style black bean paste (called "chunjang")
1 tbsp. white sugar
2-3 tbsp. potato starch
olive or vegetable oil
1 package of thick wheat noodles, jajang myun style

In a wok or large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. of oil. 
Add diced pork and fry on medium high heat until crispy. Scoop pork onto a paper towel to drain, reserving about 2 tbsp. of rendered pork fat in the skillet. Set both aside.

In a small sauce pan or skillet, add 1 tbsp. of oil and the 1 cup of black bean paste. Sauté, over low heat, for about 2-3 minutes. Spoon out the black bean sauce into a bowl, leaving the oil (if any) behind. Set aside. 

Take the skillet with the pork fat and place over medium heat. Add all the diced vegetables. Sauté until the onions start to sweat and turn opaque. Add the pork.

Add water until all the vegetables and pork are covered by about 1/2 inch of water. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until the hardest vegetable is done, about 15-20 minutes.

While vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil. You may or may not salt your water. Up to you. Do not add noodles until your vegetables are done! Boil for about 4-5 minutes. Taste for doneness.

Add black bean paste to the vegetables and mix well until dissolved.

Add sugar and mix in well.

In a small bowl, mix equal parts of potato starch with water. Pour into the black bean mixture while stirring constantly and swiftly as potato starch thickens fast. Remove from heat and set aside.

Drain your noodles and place into a bowl. Top with jajang sauce. If you'd like, garnish with julienned cucumber and slice boiled egg.


Now, for pictures!^^

Sauté diced pork in 2 tbsp. of oil until brown and slightly crispy. You can use lean pork but my Mother says a little fat is good for flavor. Plus you'll need the fat for later. Oh, and you can season the pork if you'd like, however, most Koreans will leave it as is.

Scoop pork onto a paper towel to drain. Reserve about 2 tbsp. of the rendered fat in the pan. Set aside.

Get ready to do some chopping! Dice your veggies. I chose Korean radish, Spanish onion and Korean (white) sweet potato/yam. 1 cup of each will do. *Note: Using zucchini is pretty much a mainstay, however, I forgot to pick one up! =)

Man that was a lot of chopping! Oh, and I added carrot.

This is chunjang, Korean-style fermented black bean paste. I'm aware of what it looks like but it has so much good flavor!

In a small saucepan or skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of oil and add the black bean paste. Saute over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl with a spoon, leaving the oil behind (if any).

Reheat the skillet with the pork fat. Add your veggies. Sauté until the onions start to sweat and turn opaque. Add the cooked pork.

Cover with water until veggies are submerged with about 1/2 inch head space. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let cook (uncovered) until your hardest veggie is done.

While the veggies simmer, get your noodles. This is them in the package.

This is them out of the package. If you look closely you can see they are packaged in bunches. Two bunches = 1 serving. Boil as you would spaghetti, in salted water, however do NOT boil the noodles until your sauce is nearly complete. These noodles only take about 4-5 minutes to cook. If you cook them too long, they get mushy. If you cook them too early and let them sit, they get sticky. Do not boil and toss them with any oil to prevent sticking. To do so will keep the delicious jajang sauce from clinging to the noodles.

Back to the veggies! After they are done cooking, add the cooked black bean paste and mix until dissolved. Then add the sugar. In a small bowl, prepare your potato starch and then add per my directions above. *Note - Why potato starch instead of corn starch? Potato starch thickens quicker and with less needed as opposed to corn starch. That being said, you can totally use corn starch.

This is your finished sauce.

Drain noodles, place in a bowl, top with jajang sauce. You may garnish with julienned cucumbers and slice boiled egg but I was feeling lazy so no garnish! Eat and enjoy!

The sauce is what really makes the jajangmyun, in my opinion. So feel free to have this on rice or your choice of pasta if you cannot find the necessary noodles. I have heard of people using dark meat chicken (like the thighs) when making this instead of pork, so give that a try as well. As always, recipes are guidelines so I do encourage tasting constantly and consistently to see if the flavor is right for you.

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