This summer, my mom and I are visiting Korea for the first time in 19 years. My family and I moved to the States when I was four and my dad's the only one who has gone back a few times. A few of my relatives have visited us here but not recently. I am really excited because, one, it'll be great to see everybody. My aunt is excited to show my mom and I around and apparently have already made arrangements for us so we've got nothing to worry about.
The second reason I am very excited about this trip is the food. Nobody will beat my mom's cooking, but there are just some dishes that my mom doesn't cook due to limited access to ingredients and equipment. There's nothing all that fancy about Korean food though. Sometimes it's as simple as this dish I'm sharing with you today.
It might not be so simple when you don't have access to the black bean sauce, but any Asian market should have a jar of it. If not, ask the owner and see if it can be ordered. As for the noodles, you can use any you like, though the thick white Korean ones are the best. Or avoid all that hassle in even looking for the noodles and go with rice. It can get kinda messy when you're eating these noodles so just have some napkins ready! This recipe is also easy to make for a big group and very adjustable. Vegetarian? Just take out the pork! Don't like zucchini? Then add some carrots. What I listed has just always been the standard in our household, but I'm sure you can add whatever you like as long as they are cut into small pieces. Look for pickled radish at an Asian supermarket as well. It's a must-have side dish for Black Bean Noodles.
When I used to watch Korean dramas, I remember that in every single one of them, somebody at one point always ordered delivery. The delivery man showed up on a scooter with this dish, in an actual bowl (not styrofoam), covered in plastic wrap with a bunch of side dishes (also in actual dishes, covered in plastic wrap). The food got eaten and the delivery man came back for the bowls. I hope that's how they still do it nowadays because that is on my list of things to do while in Korea!
Black Bean Noodles/Rice
From Maangchi and my mom
1/2 lb pork belly (or pork roast), diced
1 tbsp + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small potato, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup black bean sauce
2 cups water
2 tbsp cornstarch + 1/4 cup cold water
Korean noodles or white rice, cooked
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil on medium high heat and stir fry the pork until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Pour out excess pork fat.
Add the potato, onion, and zuchinni and saute for 3 minutes until the potato is translucent. Clear a space in the center of the saucepan and add 2 tbsp vegetable oil and the black bean sauce and stir for 1 minute. Then mix black bean sauce with everything else and cook.
Add water and bring to boil. Cover saucepan and lower heat to let simmer for 10 minutes. Sample the potato to see if it is fully cooked. If so, stir in cornstarch water little by little and keep stirring until well mixed and the sauce is thickened. Take off heat.
Place cooked noodles or cooked rice into bowl. Spoon black bean sauce on top of choice of starch and serve!