This saucy & rich Korean-Chinese inspired vegan jajangmyeon, or black bean noodles, is better than takeout ! This noodles dish is super easy & quick to fix. This incredibly flavorful dish is ready in an hour and is freezable, too !
If you are as addicted as K-drama like me, chances are you have heard of or even tried this popular Korean dish.
Traditional jajangmyeon are oftentimes not vegan, but the good news is that I have came out with a vegan version that taste as good as the non-vegan ones ! And like my saucy Gochujang noodles, this vegan black bean noodles is super quick and easy to make, and makes a really great weeknight dinner. 😉
🍜What is jajangmyeon ?
Jajangmyeon, or also sometimes known as black bean noodles, are a really popular Chinese-inspired Korean noodle dish. This dish consist of noodles topped with a thick, rich black bean sauce that contains diced meat, vegetables and chunjang. Sometimes seafood, beef or other kinds of meat are used in place of pork.
As for its origin, it is believed to originate from a Chinese restaurant from Incheon, Korea and was ran by a Chinese immigrant. Since than, the flavor has evolved over time to suit Korean's taste buds.
As for this vegan jajangmyeon, tofu is used as a meat substitute for diced meat.
It goes without saying that this sauce is the key element of this vegan jajangmyeon ! The main ingredient in this sauce is Chunjang. This dark, thick paste primarily consist of fermented soy beans, wheat flour and caramel, which gives the paste its dark color.
It is salty, umami with a hint of bitterness. Therefore, sugar is oftentimes added both to the paste and during cooking to counteract its bitter flavor.
You can find Chunjang at most Korean or Asian markets in general. They can also be found online through Amazon. ( This is the brand I am using. )
🍄What you will need
📓Notes / Substitutions
- Chunjang - I do not recommend substituting Chunjang with any other kinds of paste. But if you really can't find it, substitute it with 2 tablespoons of Chinese black bean sauce along with 1 tablespoon of both miso paste and vegan hoisin sauce. ( Dark miso paste is preferred. )
- Noodles - Any kind of noodles can be used in this recipe. Some of my favorite includes dry wheat noodles, soba and ramen noodles. Rice noodles and spaghetti of any sort can be used too !
- Vegetables - Veggies used in this dish can be substituted with veggies you have on hand. Some that works well include zucchini, potatoes and cabbage. I do not recommend leaving out shittake mushroom or onion, though.
- Dried mushrooms - can be substituted with fresh shiitake mushrooms.
- Cornstarch - can be substituted with equal parts of potato starch. You can also use twice the amount of tapioca starch or arrowroot starch.
- Maple syrup - can be substituted with other kinds of sweetener like brown or white sugar and sugar substitutes.
🔪How to make
If using dried shiitake, soak them in hot water for 25-30 minutes to rehydrate them. Sliced them thinly. Reserve a cup of shiitake water for later use.
Cook noodles according to package instructions. Set aside.
Make cornstarch slurry by mixing in cornstarch with ¼ cup water.
Heat up about ½ tablespoon of neutral oil in a cast iron skillet / non-stick pan on medium high heat. Add in chunjang and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. This helps remove the bitterness of the paste. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, heat up another ½ tablespoon of oil and add in onion. Stir-fry until onion is translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently.
Next, stir in all veggies and crumbled tofu into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until veggies have softened.
Add black bean paste back to the pan and stir until the paste is evenly distributed.
Now, add in 1 cup of either reserved shiitake water or filtered water. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Let it cook, uncovered for 3-4 minutes.
Add slurry into the pan and cook until sauce has thicken. Give it a taste and season with salt, if needed. Serve it over cooked noodles and enjoy !
- For ganjajangmyeon, or dried version of black bean noodles, leave out water and cornstarch slurry and simply serve them dry without sauce.
- On the other hand, if you like the sauce to be more saucy and watery, add up to 1 ½ cups of water instead of 1 cup.
- Not a fan of noodles ? You can served them on some freshly cooked rice. This is actually a thing in Korea and is known as jajangbap !
- To give this vegan jajiangmyeon a kick, add in gochujang, or gochugaru ( aka Korean red pepper flakes ) to your liking.
❔Commonly asked questions
Although traditional black bean noodles are not vegan, the main component of the sauce - Chunjang, is actually vegan-friendly !
You will need to store noodles and black bean sauce separately.
Store leftover vegan jajangmyeon sauce in a sealed container and it will last in the fridge for 3-4 days. The sauce can also be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat frozen sauce, simply let it thaw in the fridge overnight or on countertop for a few hours, then reheat it on stove. Or, you can choose to reheat them using the microwave.
As for the noodles, they can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. You will need to toss the noodles in some olive oil to prevent them from clumping together. Or, simply cook up some noodles when you are ready to serve the leftover sauce.
Vegan jajangmyeon is best served hot, but it can also be served cold too, depending on personal preference.
You can serve chunjang along with slices of raw onions and pickled radish as a Chinese-Korean inspired appetizer. You can also use them in Chinese stir-fries to give the dish a boost of umami.
Lastly, it can also be used as a dip for lettuce wraps, but do remember that a little goes a long way !
🍽More Asian vegan meals
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Vegan Jajangmyeon ( Black Bean Noodles )
- 4 serving noodles of choice * ( about 6 oz fresh noodles or 2 oz dried noodles per serving )
For dried mushrooms
- 4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms **
- 1 cup hot water
For the black bean sauce
- 3 tablespoon chunjang ( also labelled as black bean paste / jjajang )
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 14 oz block extra firm tofu drained
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or other sweetener of choice
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
For cornstarch slurry
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch ***
- ¼ cup water
- Soak dried shiitake in hot water for 20-30 minutes to rehydrate them. Sliced them thinly. Reserve a cup of shiitake water for later use.
- Crumbled up tofu into small pieces, either by using a fork or your hands.
- Cook noodles according to package instructions. Set aside.
- Heat up about ½ tablespoon of neutral oil in a cast iron skillet / non-stick pan on medium high heat. Add in chunjang and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. This helps remove the bitterness of the paste. Remove from pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat up another ½ tablespoon of oil and add in onion. Stir-fry until onion is translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently.
- Next, stir in all veggies and crumbled tofu into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until veggies have softened. Add black bean paste back to the pan and stir until the paste is evenly distributed.
- Now, add in 1 cup of reserved shiitake water. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Let it cook, uncovered for 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, make cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch with ¼ cup water.
- Add slurry into the pan and cook until sauce has thicken. Give it a taste and season with salt, if needed. Serve it over cooked noodles and enjoy !