I love Korean jajangmyeon. I first had it in Korean when my friend made me a package of Chapagetti (not vegan, but so so good!). It was the first time I had ramen without the soup. In place of liquid was a mix of powder and oil, which eventually formed this thick sweet and savory paste, which enveloped each noodle. It’s one of the best things I tried in Korea, and Chapagetti remains a favorite in my ramen arsenal today.

Fast forward to a couple years down the road when I had jajangmyeon - not from a package, but at a restaurant for the first time. I fell in love all over again, though I have to admit, nothing rivals the taste of packaged jajangmyeon.

When I prepared this recipe myself, which was adapted from the great Maangchi’s jajangmyeon recipe, I was surprised to find out how much vegetables actually went in. See, when you look at jajangmyeon, it just looks like noodles covered in brown sauce, but what you don’t see are the chunky bits of vegetables and meat (or in our case TVP) mixed throughout.

The fermented bean paste, which flavors the noodles have both molasses in it in addition to soy sauce. This gives a rich sweet and savory quality to the noodles. When you add in the meats and vegetables it becomes a chunky ragu, which pairs well with both rice and noodles.

Vegan Korean Jajangmyeon

(makes 4 servings)

  • 4 servings wheat noodles
  • ½ cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 potato
  • 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup heaping black bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • scallions for garnish

Directions

  1. Prepare noodles according to instruction and run under cold water onced cooked. Set aside.
  2. Add garlic powder to the TVP and rehydrate with 1/3 cup of water. Set aside.
  3. Chop onions, carrots, zucchini and potato into 1/2-inch cubes.
  4. In a pan over medium to medium high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once hot, add in the carrots and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Then add in the rest of the vegetables and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  5. Make a well in the center of the vegetables. Add in another tablespoon of oil to the center. Then add in the black bean paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add about 2 cups of water to the pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  7. While the vegetables are cooking, make a slurry with the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water.
  8. Once the vegetables are done simmering, add in the TVP and stir until coated. Turn the heat up and add in the slurry. Once the sauce is thickened, turn off the heat.
  9. Serve over noodles. Garnish with strips of scallion.