Noodles with black bean sauce

Noodles with pork, veggies and black bean sauce

I’m fascinated by foods that have been transplanted from one country to another and in the process become their own unique dish. Some dishes like Chop Suey get totally lost in the translation, while others, like Tacos Al Pastor, and Japanese Curry take on a different, though no less tasty life of their own.

This dish originated in northern China as a dish called Zhajiang mian. In its native form, it’s a fried mixture of fried scallions, garlic, ground pork, and black bean paste that’s all served over a bed of thick wheat noodles. The dish migrated to Korea with Chinese immigrants and there it began to change. The Korean-Chinese dish is called Ja Jang Myeon and is a popular staple in Chinese restaurants there. As it evolved, it took in more veggies like onion and zucchini, and got a black bean “gravy” thickened with cornstarch.

I’ve had both versions and my recipe below takes it in a new direction. It’s lighter than both the original and Korean versions and has a full compliment of veggies. The sauce is less cloying and strikes a pleasant balance between sweet and savoury, enrobing the veggies and noodles like a satiny black cloak. I don’t like wimpy noodles and this dish is no exception. I’ve found that dried linguine cooked al dente makes the perfect foil for the sauce, putting up a good fight from the beginning until the very last noodle is slurped up.

8 oz linguine cooked according to package directions

for sauce
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 C water
3 Tbs black bean sauce
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs mirin
1 Tbs sugar
white pepper to taste

vegetables & meat
1 tsp oil
1/2 lbs pork chopped into thin strips
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
1 clove of garlic minced
2 small bok choy or a few cabbage leaves chopped

For the sauce, add all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and stir to combine. If you have clumps of cornstarch, just let it sit for a few minutes and when you stir it again, it should all combine nicely.

Boil a pot of water for the noodles. You’ll need about 6 minutes to cook the meat and veggies so depending on how long the noodles you got will take to cook, plan accordingly.

Heat a pan on high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirl, then add the pork. Fry until the pork is just cooked then transfer to plate. There should be enough oil left in the pan for the veggies, but if not, add some oil then add the onions, bell pepper and garlic, frying until fragrant and cooked.

Add the bok choy (if you’re using regular cabbage, you’ll need to add it sooner), return the pork to the pan along with any juices then stir the sauce mixture one last time and add to the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and it should thicken.

To serve, just put some noodles in the bottom of a bowl and cover with a generous helping of sauce and veggies.

  • http://www.cococooks.blogspot.com/ courtney

    It is fascinating to see how foods transform as the cultures migrate and make their way. I was thinking of that this weekend as I concoted a soup. It had East Indian and Asian influences which really symbolized the fusion you find in the Caribbean.

  • http://www.cococooks.blogspot.com courtney

    It is fascinating to see how foods transform as the cultures migrate and make their way. I was thinking of that this weekend as I concoted a soup. It had East Indian and Asian influences which really symbolized the fusion you find in the Caribbean.

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    Yeah, I call it food migration 101..the transformations are kind of amazing. This looks good!

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    Yeah, I call it food migration 101..the transformations are kind of amazing. This looks good!

  • http://canarygirl.com/ canarygirl

    Good Gawd, man. Noodles are like crack to me, and these? Are like double crack. (does double crack exist? lmfao) Isn’t it weird how food evolves as it moves around? I always wonder about “Spanish” rice…it’s nothing like Spanish rice, and yet, it’s still delicious. lol

  • http://canarygirl.com canarygirl

    Good Gawd, man. Noodles are like crack to me, and these? Are like double crack. (does double crack exist? lmfao) Isn’t it weird how food evolves as it moves around? I always wonder about “Spanish” rice…it’s nothing like Spanish rice, and yet, it’s still delicious. lol

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Thank you! I have been looking for more uses for black bean sauce. But what I have is chili black bean sauce. Maybe that’s even better ;)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com manggy

    Thank you! I have been looking for more uses for black bean sauce. But what I have is chili black bean sauce. Maybe that’s even better ;)

  • http://newlywedcooking.blogspot.com/ sharon

    One of my favorite migrated noodle dishes is saimin in Hawaii. They say the Chinese brought it over, but the Chinese don’t claim it as their own!

    Absolutely gorgeous photo. I’m definitely bookmarking these!

  • http://newlywedcooking.blogspot.com sharon

    One of my favorite migrated noodle dishes is saimin in Hawaii. They say the Chinese brought it over, but the Chinese don’t claim it as their own!

    Absolutely gorgeous photo. I’m definitely bookmarking these!

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    I like just about anything with black bean sauce and this sounds good.

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    I like just about anything with black bean sauce and this sounds good.

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    “satiny black cloak” ooh, good way of describing it. You know, I have a bottle of black bean sauce languishing on the shelf…might have to give this a go :) Looks delicious like usual!

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    “satiny black cloak” ooh, good way of describing it. You know, I have a bottle of black bean sauce languishing on the shelf…might have to give this a go :) Looks delicious like usual!

  • http://imrunningtoeat.blogspot.com/ Teresa

    This looks gorgeous and it sounds delicious!

  • http://imrunningtoeat.blogspot.com/ Teresa

    This looks gorgeous and it sounds delicious!

  • http://foodmakesmehappy.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I love black bean sauce,
    It makes almost all asian dishes extra yummy!

  • http://foodmakesmehappy.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I love black bean sauce,
    It makes almost all asian dishes extra yummy!

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com/ We Are Never Full

    this is a dish i crave, but never make. why is that? this is so easy and i have all the ingredients. gotta give this a try!

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com We Are Never Full

    this is a dish i crave, but never make. why is that? this is so easy and i have all the ingredients. gotta give this a try!

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    i’ve never had the korean version but i adore zhajiang mian. and i don’t really fancy all the veg in it. i love veg don’t get me wrong but zhajiang mian needs to have minced meat and only minced meat, and oh yea, loads of chinese black vinegar..mmm.

    however, this looks great. definitely agree with u on the noodles needing to have some backbone and the sauce is so much better than those over-starchy crazily thick ones you so commonly find at restaurants. thumbs up. x

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    i’ve never had the korean version but i adore zhajiang mian. and i don’t really fancy all the veg in it. i love veg don’t get me wrong but zhajiang mian needs to have minced meat and only minced meat, and oh yea, loads of chinese black vinegar..mmm.

    however, this looks great. definitely agree with u on the noodles needing to have some backbone and the sauce is so much better than those over-starchy crazily thick ones you so commonly find at restaurants. thumbs up. x

  • Mike

    What kind of Black Bean sauce do you use? Do you use the typical generic Black Bean sauce or do you use something from an Asian market?
    Just curious.. cause this looks really good, but I dont like the taste of some of these Americanized sauces cause they taste fake or weird at times :)

  • norecipes

    Sorry, I can't remember what brand I used, but it was one from Chinatown.

  • ann

    Do you use the Chinese black bean sauce or the ones that are sold in Korean market?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I used the Chinese one.

  • http://twitter.com/PutriMatahari Putri Matahari

    Is it possible to substitute the pork with other meats? Could you give me suggestions on how I can alter this recipe. I’ve always wanted to make jajang myeon, but I’m not able to consume pork. Thanks!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      You could substitute the pork for thinly sliced chicken.

      • http://twitter.com/PutriMatahari Putri Matahari

        awesome will try this out! thanks~

  • http://twitter.com/PutriMatahari Putri Matahari

    How many servings does this recipe make? Is it also possible to use seafood like squid, clams, etc instead of meat? thanks again~

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      This will comfortably feed 2. Yep, seafood would be fine.

      • http://twitter.com/PutriMatahari Putri Matahari

        great thanks~

      • http://twitter.com/PutriMatahari Putri Matahari

        I made this dish with seafood cuz some of my friend’s are vegetarian and they LOVED it! Will make again in the future in the mean time I look forward to you posting a Galbijim recipe :)

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