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.