What does Jjajang noodles taste like? You may have heard from people that Jajangmyeon is a delicious noodle dish and has been a family favorite for decades.
But, if you have never tried it before, it is natural to wonder, “what do Jjajang noodles taste like?”
Well, why would it not taste great when there is black soybean paste, veggies, pork, and thicker wheat-based noodles? What’s not to love about this dish?
Moreover, you can add other ingredients to these noodles to make them taste even better.
Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preferences, but these noodles do have a distinct flavor.
In a nutshell, Jjajang noodles are incredibly decadent and delicious, with a strong umami aspect and hints of bitter, sour, and sweet.
The Idea of Adding Jjajang Noodles to Your Diet
Jajangmyeon is a common K-drama staple since it is a comfort food for many Koreans. You must be a huge admirer of Korean culture if you are aware of it.
While it is no secret that this meal is a hit, it is amusing to observe how little westerners know about it.
They feel uneasy about the outcome of the meal and how it will taste even after following the recipe.
Exploring the World of Jjajang Noodles
Also called Korean black bean noodles, Jjajang noodles are extremely popular as a Chinese-Korean fusion cuisine.
It is worth mentioning that there are different variations of black bean noodles, but two of them are considered authentic.
- Jajangmyeon (Korean)
- Zhajiangmian (Chines)
Before using either as a sauce, a brief stir-fry in oil brings out their best flavors. Both are slightly sweet with a savory undertone.
Nonetheless, Jajangmyeon is more well-known outside of Korea. It is amazing how black bean paste, vegetables, and diced pork come together to form a rich and savory black bean sauce.
An immigrant brought this cuisine to Korea, and now it is well-recognized as the Korean interpretation of Chinese Hakka noodles.
Common ingredients for this dish are cumian or Udon noodles. Jajangmyeon is a versatile dish that works well for any meal of the day.
Fact: The Chinese word for "fried sauce" is "Jjajang," therefore "Jajangmyeon" literally means "spicy seafood noodles."
Noodles Used in Jajangmyeon
When making this dish, you have the option to use different types of noodles. However, in order to make authentic Jajangmyeon, you should utilize fresh noodles.
You want your Korean black bean noodles to be springy and have just a hint of crunch, and that is exactly what you get with these.
It is even better to use fresh medium-thickness noodles, which are a little thicker than spaghetti. Some people also use kalguksu noodles or knife-cut noodles.
These are widely available in Asian markets and in particular in Korean supermarkets. But if you cannot seem to find these, you can easily go with udon noodles.
Just remember that a change in ingredients will lead to a change in Jajangmyeon’s taste, which brings us to our next question.
What Does Jjajang Noodles Taste Like?
As a whole, the dish is incredibly decadent, flavorful, and umami, with distinct bitter, tangy, and sweet notes.
However, any addition will naturally provide its own taste and texture to the meal. It means that the ingredients of these noodles will determine their taste.
The four components of this dish are:
- Thick wheat noodles
- Black bean paste
Not included here is the garnish, which is strictly voluntary. But, these four ingredients play a huge part in dictating the flavor profile of Jjajang noodles.
Black Bean Paste Flavor
A hint of sweetness balances out the sauce’s intense spiciness. The flavor is actually quite intense.
It has a peppery, rough, extremely salty, and earthy flavor. Sometimes a hint of sweetness can be picked up along with the heat.
As a result of the variety of ingredients used in cooking, it offers a rich palate of tastes.
Black beans are not the only thing that give this sauce its unique flavor; fermented flour and soybeans help to round it out.
In some regions, soy sauce is also commonly used. The sauce’s recipe varies, but they all have a paste-like consistency.
The Flavor of the Noodles
Different kinds of noodles will have different tastes. Traditionally, the dish has been made using cumian or udon noodles, but you can try other options too.
Udon noodles usually work great. These off-white noodle rounds are thick and spherical. They have a soft texture and the taste is both sweet and salty.
Similarly, it is possible to use cumian noodles, which are substantial in both thickness and volume.
They are noticeably yellower than udon. There is no discernible taste to these noodles.
The truth is that this dish gets its distinctive taste from the sauce because noodles are usually pretty bland.
And the reason why cumian and udon noodles are used here is that they are great at holding sauce.
The noodles absorb the sauce quickly and turn into a juicy treat. But, they never overpower the richness of the sauce, which is what makes them a preferred choice.
The Flavor of Pork
Other than the sauce and noodles, there is pork and vegetables.Having pork in there gives the dish a meaty chewiness.
The good thing is that you customize the chewiness based on your own preferences.
You can change it simply by cooking it for long. Also, the size of the meat you use will also have an effect here.
With the addition of meat, the noodles take on a unique sweetness and saltiness that binds together to create a delicious umami flavor.
Fact: Pork is the preferred choice but you can also use other proteins and even choose from a wide range of seafood.
The Flavor of Other Ingredients
Last but not least, vegetables are often included, but the varieties used can vary greatly.
Similarly, ginger, garlic, scallions, and chili Garlic, ginger, and chili are also often used aromatics by restaurants and food carts.
You may also notice the additions of zucchinis, onions, and cabbages, which definitely make it taste better.
You can also add fresh cucumber ribbons, bamboo shoots, boiled eggs, or blanched shrimp to the dish for an extra kick.
Fact: To enhance the flavor, you can try Jjajang noodles with a side dish and an option for a side dish is danmuji, a pickled radish concoction.
Preserving the Taste of Jjajang Noodles
When preserving Jjajang noodles, it is important to consider the original state of the dish first.
Is the sauce combined with the other components and the noodles? Or do you still have it in a separate container?
If you have not yet mixed the sauce in the noodles, you are in luck. Your sauce will keep for a lot longer if it is not mixed in with the remainder of the ingredients.
This is so because it will not go bad as quickly as the other, more perishable ingredients would.
Save it in a container and it will last long. In fact, if it is unopened, you can store it for as long as two years.
But, if you have already opened it, the shelf life comes down to 3-6 months.
The taste will not deteriorate much during this time, but you should use it sooner if it has already been opened.
An Important Consideration
The sauce should be kept in its original packaging for optimal freshness. A glass jar usually does the job well.
Do not reuse the plastic container; instead, transfer the contents to a clean jar.
The homemade black bean sauce would only keep in the fridge for about five days.
After that, the taste will deteriorate quickly, and it may no longer be safe to use as well.
Unlike cooked sauce, the bacteria count in raw sauce is much lower because it has not been heated.
Black bean sauce is versatile, but make as little as you need for a given recipe.
Fact: Avoid repeatedly heating and cooling the sauce because the flavor will be ruined once you have heated the sauce three times.
What does Jjajang noodles taste like? The noodles taste amazing, but they may not be the same for everyone.
If you have already tried a few Korean dishes and loved them, you will also enjoy eating Jajangmyeon.
Also, the taste usually depends heavily on the sauce used in the dish, which is usually quite peppery yet savory.
Just give it a try and see how it feels!