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I See A Bowl of Noodles, I Want To Paint It Black (Jjajangmyeon)

Hello to everyone out there in cyberspace. Today on Mastication Monologues, I am going to tell you about a Korean dish that I heard about very briefly in reference to Black Day in Korea where single people come together to hangout (kind of like an antithesis to the much commercialized Valentine’s/White Day) and eat a meal called jajangmyeon.

I actually had it today for lunch with my coteachers at my new elementary school. They initially told me they were going to be ordering “Korean Chinese” food. I knew that Incheon had the largest Chinatown in Korea, but I didn’t know what exactly they meant by this fusion term. I asked for clarification, and they said, “You can get fried rice or black noodles.” Done. I was going to get the bizzare sounding black noodles. Originally I was thinking that they were going to be black due to the addition of squid’s ink, but what faced me was very different.Jajangmyeon_1_by_eggnara It was a massive mound of wheat noodles staring back at me in a dark dark brown sauce. I found out that it is nearly identical to the Chinese noodle dish zhajiangmian (fried sauce noodles) hence the teachers basically telling me it’s a Chinese dish that the Koreans adapted to claim it as their own. It wasn’t an ideal dish to eat with chopsticks, but I managed to eat it all. It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but the savory taste of the noodles was spectacular. It was semi-sweet in nature with a salty pork taste permeating every noodle laden mouthful. There were also onions in the sauce that kind of gave it a nice zing on occasion. On the side, there was the ever-present Kimchi, but I had some bright yellow, pickled radishes that I never had before. It actually tasted like a pickled cucumber back home. I didn’t touch the raw onion since I was at work, but the black fish sauce added a potent, semi-jarring element to the sweet noodle sauce. I also sampled some Korean deep-fried dumplings that looked like Chinese pork empanadas. They were fresh but semi-pedestrian. Of course, I washed it all down with a cup of Coca Cola. Hooray for globalization! This was definitely a cool look into Chinese-Korean relations in regard to food, and I’d probably get these black noodles again. Maybe I’ll do so during a trip to Incheon’s Chinatown. To be continued…


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