Jjajang Udon (Udon in Black Bean Sauce)
Udon noodles are a favorite in my household and on busy weekday nights, nothing seems easier than a quick stir fry with udon. My kiddos (8 and 6 years old) love jjajang, a fermented black bean sauce, I thought it would go perfectly with the noodles.
For this recipe I used frozen udon that only need to be quickly blanched in boiling hot water for a minute then cooled off immediately to keep them nicely firm and chewy (they can break apart while stir-frying them if over boiled). They can be found in most asian market freezer aisles.
Since I’ve been adopting more of a keto lifestyle lately, I enjoy this sauce with shirataki noodles (japanese noodles made with konjac yams that are super low in carbs) or zucchini noodles instead! For vegans, you can easily substitute the ground pork with crumbled extra firm tofu.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves : 4
1/2 lbs ground pork
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbl shiaoxing cooking wine (sub with regular white cooking wine if you don’t have any)
1 heaping cup of diced onions (~1 small)
1.5 cups finely chopped zucchini
2 tbl Korean fermented black bean paste like this one (aka chunjang)
3 tbl water
Two 8 oz packages of frozen udon
2 cups roughly sliced cabbage
2 cups mung bean sprouts
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
How to make it
Heat 1 tbl oil in a shallow skillet or pan until it is fully heated, but not smoking, over medium high heat. Add in pork and ginger, and add in some fresh cracked pepper to taste. Using a wooden spoon, break apart into small pieces and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
2. Turn up heat to high and immediately add in shiaoxing wine and allow the liquid to reduce down and full absorbed by the pork, about 2 minutes. Be careful, it’ll sizzle and smoke!
3. Add another tablespoon of cooking oil, onions and zucchini and stir fry until onions just begin to turn translucent and shiny, about 3 minutes.
4. Add in black bean paste and incorporate into the mixture, stirring constantly until the sauce begins to yield a nutty (but not burnt!) aroma, about 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce will have thickened up a bit and will appear very glossy. At this point add in water and stir until the liquid visibly evaporates. Turn off and remove pan from heat. Set aside your sauce, covered.
5. Prepare your udon. Instructions may vary depending on the brand but typically frozen udon should only be boiled for one minute, and no longer. Once boiled, rinse under cold water in a colander and set aside to drain out any excess water.
6. Heat a large wok (if you don’t have one, a large frying pan is okay) over high heat and wait until the it is fully heated and ready to go. You want the wok to be very hot so that your stir fry veggies come out cooked but also pleasantly crunchy. This will also add an extra layer of complex and smoky flavor, that only a hot wok can provide (aka wok hei).
Add in remaining cooking oil, cabbage and sprouts and quickly stir fry for about 2 minutes or until there is slight char to the edges of the veggies. The veggies should still appear only slightly wilted but still fresh and brightened in color. Add in a pinch of salt if you wish.
7. Proceed to add in your udon and sauce and continue to stir the noodles until they have been fully incorporated with the sauce, about 3 minutes.
Plate immediately and enjoy while piping hot. Great spiced up with a good chili oil, one of my favorite condiments. Garnish with an extra sprinkle of fresh sprouts on top if you wish.
Enjoy my friends!