Noodles with Black Bean Sauce

Both Korean and Chinese restaurants have a version of this Korean-Chinese dish, with the Korean version being saucier and the Chinese version being drier. Consider yourself warned: the black bean sauce is very messy and even the most elegant diner will be hard-pressed to stay clean.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients

2 tablespoons potato starch

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

10 ounces (283 grams) skinless pork belly, cut into 1/4-inch cubes 

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) cups diced onions 

3 cloves garlic, grated or minced 

1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger 

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) diced peeled potatoes* (see Cook's Note)

1 cup (200 grams) diced zucchini 

1/2 cup (100 grams) diced daikon radish 

2/3 cup (150 grams) Korean black bean paste** (chunjang; see Cook's Note)

1 teaspoon brown sugar 

1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt 

Freshly ground black pepper 

17 ounces (481 grams) Chinese-style fresh wheat noodles (jjajangmyun) 

Large handful seeded and julienned cucumber, for garnish 

Roasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Toasted sesame oil, for drizzling 

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the potato starch and 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) water. Set aside.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides and some of the fat has rendered, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the onions, garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, zucchini and radish, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the radish and potato start to turn translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Stir in the black bean paste, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Add 3 cups (720 milliliters) water and mix well. Simmer gently for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir the potato starch mixture, then add it to the skillet and mix well. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, 10 to 12 minutes more.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package instructions (usually 5 to 7 minutes). Drain, rinse well and drain again. Divide the noodles among four to six large bowls. Spoon the vegetable mixture on top of the noodles. Garnish with cucumbers and sesame seeds, and drizzle with sesame oil. 

Cook’s Note

*For even cooking and a nice presentation, cut all the vegetables into uniform 1/2-inch dice. **Do not substitute Chinese black bean sauce here, as it is completely different.