Sunday, September 23, 2007
Black Bean Sauce Noodles
For the past weeks, I have been nursing this craving of mine. Before I delve into details of the dish, maybe I'll let you in on the root of this 'obsession'. You see, I'm a big fan of Korean Dramas; at least only the good ones. I can still count with my ten fingers, the number of K-dramas I've watched. I pick and choose and go by recommendations. My utmost favourite is still the food-themed My Lovely Samsoon. However, I recently watched a new Korean drama which I like just as much as My Lovely Samsoon. It's very much a romance comedy and it's called Fantasy Couple. It helps that the lead actor Oh Ji Ho is easy on the eye. So most of the time, it was just me drooling over the eye candy.... and something else in the drama - jja jang-myun.
Jja jang-Myun is simply black bean sauce noodles. The female lead loves this noodles and has it almost everyday. So you can imagine what I'd be doing when she slurps so enthusiastically in every episode. I find myself craving for the noodles she's having. Black though it might be, it still looked very appetising to me. From then on, it became my mission to find out where it's sold here in Singapore. But it wasn't an easy task - this noodles is actually a Chinese dish but the Koreans loved it so much that they adopted it and started selling it at Korean restaurants. I couldn't wait to try it so I thought I'd just make it myself. At first, I made it by instinct - mixed miso paste with soya sauce, mirin and the works. It was delicious no doubt, but I can't help thinking if the authentic one tasted like this.
So then I began searching for Black Bean Paste. I couldn't find it in normal supermarkets - they only had spicy black bean sauce or black bean sauce with garlic, which was different. And so you can imagine how I yelped when I was at Square 2 at Novena this week and chanced upon a Korean Supermarket. Before you could say jja jang-myun, I was already in the shop, checking out the aisles, hoping to find my black bean paste and guess what? There it was, in all its brown tub glory, shining and calling out to me. hahaha... I grabbed it excitedly and couldn't stop smiling. I loved the shop; wanted to buy almost everything!
Known as Cha Jang Mian in Chinese cuisine, these noodles are a rarity here. Thank God I love to cook. I mean it's times like these that I'm grateful for my enthusiasium for food. I don't think I would have bothered trying to learn how to cook it if I was a lazy punk who eats out all the time. So anyway, I found a recipe off the net and decided to try it. I went with the Chinese version. I don't know how much it differs from the Korean one, but I heard that it's actually the same so there.
I tweaked the recipe a bit because I didn't have all the ingredients at home save for the paste, garlic, ginger etc. I used chicken instead of pork and bean sprouts instead of zucchini. Oh, and I used Capellini instead of Chinese noodles. I think it would taste better if it was la mian (hand pulled noodles) I was using.
How did my virgin attempt at these black noodles go? Pretty well I must say. I was pleased with it. It was delicious and full of flavour. Sis commented that it actually tastes a wee bit like buah keluak (indonesian black nut). Maybe it did, but it was certainly tasty. The paste itself looked like buah keluak flesh actually! It was really black. But it's okay, I like black foods - come on, yes, at first the colour might be off-putting but at the end of the day, why care so much when it tastes so good? That's why me thinks squid ink pasta rocks too!
Ta-dah... Okay this noodle dish is rather easy. I'm just happy that I have a tub of Korean black bean paste sitting in my fridge because I know that I can cook some jja jang-myun anytime I crave for it!
Cha Jang Mein (Noodles with Black Bean Sauce)
Amount Measure Ingredient
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/4 pound pork
1/4 pound raw shrimp -- optional
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 medium onions -- chopped
2 medium zucchini -- chopped
3/4 cup oyster, shiitake, or straw mushrooms -- chopped
1 cup cha jang (black bean paste, not sauce!)*
oil or shortening
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon water
fresh chinese noodles -- cooked
*Look for this at a Chinese or a Korean Market. No substitutes!
1. Cut the pork into small pieces. Mariate in soy sauce, rice wine, ginger,
and garlic. Set aside. If using shrimp, shell, devein and salt lightly. Set aside.
2. In a wok, over high heat, stir fry the onion and zucchini. Depending on
the size of the wok, you might have to do it in batches. Remove and set aside.
3. Heat the shortening or oil in the wok. The amount varies, depending upon
the amount of the black bean paste, but don't be too stingy with the oil.
Dump the paste in the wok, stirring quickly to avoid burning. Stir for
approximately 2 -3 minutes.
4. Add the pork and stir fry till it is cooked, approximately 1 - 2 minutes.
Add the vegetables and mix.
5. Add the chicken broth. Bringt to a boil.
6. Add the shrimp, if using, and mix.
7. Mix the corn starch and water. Add it to the wok and stir til thickened
8. Serve immediately over cooked noodles.