12 March 2004

Jajang Myeon

Let's talk noodles today.

Unlike some parts of Asia where noodles feature prominently in local cuisine, in Korea, noodles are a distant second to rice. Choices are somewhat limited, both in terms of the type of noodles available as well as the style of cooking.

When one talks about noodles in Korea, jajang myeon immediately springs to mind. So that's what we'll have today. Jajang myeon is regarded as chinese food here. Its name is derived from the chinese words meaning "plain sauce noodles" or more literally, just plain "sauce and noodles". In my travels to many places Oriental, I have NEVER seen noodles such as this before. So this became a point of debate amongst my Korean acquintances and myself. Until today, I still cannot confirm this for myself, but I have been made to understand that certain parts of China (obviously parts I've never been to) do serve noodles of this sort. About time I take a flight to Jajang Province in PRC, or whatever name its called.

So be that as it may, chinese or otherwise, as far as I'm concerned, jajang myeon is Korean to me. For all eternity, whenever I think of jajang myeon, I'll think of Korea.

Enough ranting. Let's eat. This was how it was delivered, double-layered shrink-wrapped, to keep it warm.

First of all, let me just say that it tastes better than it looks! The sauce is made by frying together minced meat & lots of diced large onions, then adding stock, seasoning, thick black soya sauce and finally thicken with cornstarch. The green peas and corn bits are just for colour (if you can call it that) and doesn't really add to the flavour.

Dig in and you'll find the noodles hiding beneath that sea of sauce. The noodles used in jajang myeon is akin to Japanese udon - thick & fat yellow-tinged noodles.

You'll need to perform some finger acrobatics to stir the noodles well. That's why jajang myeon must be taken hot or else the noodles get all sticky and clumpy. Stir fast and mix well ..... and watch that white shirt you're wearing!

OK. Open your mouth. The noodles are smooth and the thick sauce is savoury with a tinge of sweetness. The chunky onions, lots of them, adds crunch to the sauce and reminds me more of cabbage than onions. Nice. KRW5,000.

Jajang myeon is the all-time favourite with kids. They look so adorable with that black gooey sauce all over their face as they try to slurp the noodles. Better clean my face when I'm done.

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