Jajangmyeon is a traditional noodle dish in Korean culture. For them, it is reminiscent of their childhood and in the larger picture, it is a part of their cultural history.
What is Jajangmyeon?
Jajangmyeon (자장면) is a Chinese-Korean noodle dish tossed with a thick black paste, diced meat, vegetables and at times, with seafood variations. Traditionally, it would use thick, hand-pulled noodles made from what flour, salt, baking soda and water. The sauce is made of ingredients as soy sauce, garlic, cabbage and onions. It is usually served alongside danmuji, yellow pickled radish.
History of Jajanngmyeon
Depending on whom you ask, jajanmyeon are said to be either a Chinese or Korean Dish. An associate history professor from the University of California has said that although the dish was introduced as a Northern Chinese noodle but it is undeniably Korean. The dish can be traced back to 1905 in the Incheon district at a restaurant run by a Chinese immigrant. It is an iconic dish of choice so much so that there is a museum in the port area for near and far distant travellers to trace back its history.
Jajanmyeon was once considered to be a luxury dish as there was a low supply of flour until after the Korean War in the Mid-50s. Its popularity soared after a steady supply of flour was imported from the United States and quickly begun to spread in and around the country. Merchants who paid their trade visits in the Incheon district would dish out the meal before their next journey. However, it was still regarded as a special dish enjoyed during special occasions such as a graduation ceremony.
The original sauce for the noodle dish has a saltier taste. Post the Korean War, a Korean black bean paste, famously known as Chunjang was on the market. It is much sweeter in flavour, and darker in colour as caramel is added in with the salty fermented soybean. It was during this time that jajangmyeon has set itself apart from its Chinese zhajiangmian.
As it enters the 80s and 90s, the dish quickly become popular easily accessed with food delivery from restaurants. People would order it in during moving days as the consistency is heavy enough to provide energy after a long day of hard labour. Not to mention, it only cost around 6,000 (RM20) to 10,000 (RM35) won for a single bowl.
The dish, in itself, is a cheap comfort in Korean food culture. It is so that on the April 14th or known as Black Day, those who are single will celebrate their singlehood with a big bowl of jajangmyeon with other singletons.
Know about the different variations of Jajangmyeon
There are different variations to the preparation of the Jajangmyeon dish. Depending on your taste bud, you can have a variety to choose from including, gan-jjajang, jaengban-jjanjang, yuni-jjajang and samseon-jjajang.
- Gan-jjajang is not far different from the regular jjajangmyeon It is served with dry sauce on the side without stock and starch slurry added.
- Jaengban-jjajang is a stir-fried black bean noodle. Unlike other variations, it is served on a plate instead of a bowl.
- Yuni-jjajang is Jajangmyeon made with ground meat instead of the diced meat.
- Samseon-jjajang is a Jajangmyeon served with seafood options as squid or mussel.
Where to find Jajangmyeon in Malaysia
Sounds good? Get a taste of the Jajangmyeon dish at these listed local restaurants.
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