In college I was a typical super broke student and I literally lived off of kimchi bowls (spicy instant noodles) and chapaghetti (instant jjajangmyun). While I shudder in disgust every time I see a kimchi bowl now ... I still love chapaghetti! Of course as an adult I can afford more than the instant version and this is what I have come up with. There's been some debate on what can or cannot be added in jjajangmyun however the basic is there - korean black bean paste over al dente noodles. For my particular version I use potatoes, zucchini, cucumber and pork loin but it's really up to you to change it up.
1 large potato cut into cubes* (soak in water to remove excess starch)
1 medium zucchini cut into cubes*
1 large onion cut into cubes*
0.5 lbs of pork loin pounded with a meat tenderizer then cut into cubes*
2 Tbsp of oyster sauce
1/4 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of sugar (optional)
2 Tbsp of chicken broth
1.5 Tbsp of cornstarch
1/3 cup of jja jang (korean black bean paste)
3 Tbsp of oil
1.5 cups of water
1/2 tsp of sesame oil
Noodles enough for 4 people ( I try to use fresh noodles but if I don't have it on hand I use thicker noodles like thick spaghetti or udon)
* Cut the vegetables and meat as uniformly as possible - this way they will be able to cook roughly at the same rate. I usually aim for about 1/4 inch cubes
Prepare all vegetables and meat. Marinade the pork loin with the oyster sauce and black pepper - place back into the fridge for at least 15 minutes and up to an hour.
Heat the 3 Tbsp of oil in a wok, when you see small rippling in the oil then gently add in the jjajang paste. Using a spatula "fry" the paste - the oil and the paste will not mix so you just use the spatula to make sure that none of the paste burns. Do this for 3-4 minutes until flavor develops. Scoop out the paste - try to drain out as much oil as possible and leave about 1 Tbsp of oil in the wok.
On medium high heat - add all the veggies into the wok and stir fry until par cooked. Add in the chicken broth during this process to help cook the vegetables faster. Remove from wok and set aside ( along with all the juices ).
Stir fry the marinated pork loin into the wok until the pork is no longer pink then add back the vegetables. Mix well then slowly break apart the fried jjajang in the meat and vegetable mixture. Add in the water (reserving 1/4 cup for the cornstarch) and sugar (if you like it sweeter - I always do I think it balances out the flavors better) then bring to a boil and back down to a simmer for an additional 10-12 minutes.
Cook the noodles according to package and until just al dente. Drain and set aside.
Add in the sesame oil at the very end right before adding in the cornstarch slurry(cornstarch with the reserved 1/4 cup of water). Drizzle it over the sauce while stirring and you will see the sauce slowly thicken as it simmers. Top the prepared noodle with a generous helping of the sauce and garnish with the julienne cucumber. Eat and prepare to get messy! Seriously... don't wear white while eating this =)