Everyone always asks if I’m a good cook. Usually in cooking Korean food. The answer is I never tried 1) because my mother’s cooking is just too good 2) because I’m terrified of the endless aisles at Asian markets only leading me to give up and retreat to the candy or instant ramen aisle 2.5) because I love chocolate pandas and/ or 3) because the word fermented intimidates me. I love Korean food, mostly because it is cemented into my taste buds and as I get older, I’m learning to accept my cravings for cold noodle soup on a hot day or my day dreams for spicy rice cake. I can’t hide it any longer.
So I gave in and googled a recipe for jjajangmyeon. Translation: black bean noodles. Yes, I might have cheated because it is a Korean-Chinese dish, but THIS is my childhood. I would split a bowl with my sister and the server would cut the noodles twice. I asked her to cut four times because I hated slurping. With jjajangmyeon, it didn’t matter who got more noodles. The leftover sauce with vegetables and meat left sitting in your bowl was the best part! Jjajangmyeon wasn’t one dish. Just add rice to the extra sauce (because there was always extra) and you will never leave hungry!
Jjajangmyeon had a variety of textures and sounds in each chopstick. You have the crunchy daikon and the snappy cucumber along with the crunchy pork belly and the smooth wheat noodle. And being Korean, variety is a must. I mean, look at the 10+ plates of banchon (small side dishes) at every meal. (If you never had Korean food, you live in a hole.) This cheap, affordable, every man’s meal, was not about being fancy, but about bringing comfort in each bite.
I want to embrace my inner child and feed it. Maangchi is my Korean food guru. Here’s an easy Korean food blog where jjajangmyeon and many other of my favorite comfort food recipes can be absorbed. Her videos and blog make cooking Korean favorites child’s play. So I’m giving myself a pat on the back for this one. Not bad for my first Korean recipe.