When she was just five years old, Jessica Chan would frequently order jjajangmyeon and delight her father with a face covered in black bean sauce. She was such a fan, her mother started making it at home, cementing Jessicaʼs love of both cooking and her Korean and Chinese heritage. Today, the content creator and home cook shares her food adventures and favorite recipes @jeccachantilly — including her familyʼs jjajangmyeon!
How does your heritage or culture influence your home cooking?
When I was younger, my family and relatives would get together every weekend at my grandmotherʼs house in Chinatown.The adults would play mahjong while the kids would play together and hang out. My earliest memories of being in a kitchen were with my grandmother, aunts, and uncles who cooked massive family-style meals for 15 – 20 people. This weekly tradition went on for almost 20 years of my life and I canʼt help but think this played a significant role in fueling my passion for food.
What does your heritage represent and mean to you?
At the core of it, my heritage is a part of my identity. As a first generation Asian American, it has been important for me to explore my culture and understand the origins of my family. My father is from Hong Kong and my mother is from Korea and I feel extremely lucky that Iʼve been given this life to experience the best of both worlds.
Is there a story or favorite memory behind the recipe youʼre making today?
One of the earliest memories I have with my parents is eating at Korean Chinese restaurants. My mom and I would always share a jjajangmyeon and my dad would always order jjambong, which is a spicy seafood noodle soup. To this day, my dad will joke and reminisce about how, as a 5-year-old, I would have black bean sauce all over my face whenever I ate jjajangmyeon. Over the years, my mom started making jjajangmyeon at home so I learned it from her! Jjajangmyeon is usually not spicy but I love spicy food and will add some heat to any dish whenever I can. For my jjajangmyeon recipe, I use peppers to add a subtle hint of spiciness.
What are some of your other favorite dishes?
There are so many, but if I had to choose, it would be sujebi, which is a Korean hand torn noodle soup. Each noodle is torn and flattened by hand before itʼs cooked in an anchovy broth. This is particularly special to me because itʼs a dish that requires some teamwork and I would make this together with my mom on chilly days.
Do you have any memorable stories involving cooking your recipe?
If youʼre not careful, the black bean paste can get everywhere! I wasnʼt aware that it got on some of my cooking utensils, and then smudged all over my hands, then my clothes and… needless to say, a full wardrobe change was necessary.
Do you have any tips, tricks, or advice for anyone who would like to recreate your recipe?
Yes! Make sure to rinse the noodles in cold water after cooking and draining to get that chewy bouncy texture. To make this vegetarian, you can skip the meat completely. You can also use any vegetables you like, but scallions and onions are a must for this dish!
Jessicaʼs Jjajangmyeon (Noodles in Black Bean Sauce)
YOU NEED8 oz pork (shoulder or belly)
1 tbsp. mirin, or cooking wine
1/4 tsp. white pepper
For the sauce:1 1/2 cups of onions, diced
1 1/2 cups of cabbage, diced
1 1/2 cups of zucchini, diced
1 long green pepper or jalapeno, sliced diagonally
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chunjang (fermented black bean paste)
1/4 cup neutral oil
1 tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp. MSG, optional
For the starch slurry:1 tbsp. potato starch, or cornstarch
2 tbsp. water
For the noodles:400g fresh thick wheat noodles
6 cups water, for boiling
Cut the pork into bite size pieces. Marinate in mirin, salt, and white pepper for 10 minutes
In your Always Pan, fry the chunjang with 1/4 cup of oil over low heat for about 5 minutes or until glossy. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Use the remaining oil to saute the scallions and peppers for 1 – 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the pork and cook until all the way through.
Toss in the onions, cabbage, and zucchini and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the black bean paste and mix to coat the vegetables.
Pour in the water and bring it to a boil until the vegetables are tender. Add the sugar, starch slurry, and MSG to finish the sauce.
Boil water in your Perfect Pot, then cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
Drain and rinse the noodles in cold water and drain again.
Place one serving of the noodles into a large bowl. Pour a generous amount of sauce on top.
Garnish with cucumbers and enjoy!