There was a period in my life (back in university) when I was completely and utterly addicted to Korean pop music (Kpop) and Korean dramas. I was so engrossed in the whole ordeal that I taught myself how to read the Korean alphabet so I could surf Korean sites easily. I even frequented a Kpop forum so much that I was offered to be a moderator. I took pride in my moderator status as I was able to kick people out if they did anything wrong and I felt like I was super important.
As the forum was based in America, my sleep patterns also changed. I would stay awake throughout the night, chatting to my co-moderators and go to sleep when the birds started chirping and my parents got up to go to work. Luckily, I only had 10 hours of contact time at university which meant I had many days off a week. It didn’t make it better that we also had 3 months off during Christmas where my addictions just got worse.
I knew all the popular Kpop songs and all the famous celebrities of the time. I even met up with a co-moderator who lived in Sydney, during one of my trips there. I call those days my ‘obsessive’ days where really nothing else mattered to me.
Such a lifestyle didn’t last very long as you can imagine. Once second year uni started, I moved away from the forum. I spent less and less time there and eventually, when I went back again, most of the moderators have changed. I knew no one and no one knew me. I lost my high status and my contacts, but I also gained back my life.
I still listen to the Kpop music I downloaded from then but the playlist was from almost 10 years ago. Some of them have become classics. I still think back to those days every so often, how did I get myself so wound up in such a hobby? One thing I did get out of it though, I still hadn’t forgotten the Korean alphabet, so if I ever visit Korea, I can at least pronounce the street names and places I wanted to go. 😀
One of my favourite Korean dishes and one that is very easy to prepare is the jja jang myeon (a dry noodle dish made with Korean black soybean paste). This dish originated in China (it is pronounced in a very similar way in Chinese – Zha Jiang Mian – which my mum makes at home all the time). However, the Korean version has evolved significantly since its first introduction. For one, it looks very different with its significantly darker appearance. This dish has now become a household staple and can be ordered at most Korean restaurants throughout the world.
This recipe was made by Yuye some time ago for our recipe app. It might be a bit harder for people who have never tried this dish before as it doesn’t have the prettiest appearance. It’s quite tasty though!
Jja Jang Myeon
Time to prepare: 10 minutes
Time to cook: 15 minutes
• 300g fresh wheat noodle
• 150g pork loin
• 100g daikon radish
• 1/2 zucchini
• 1 small potato
• 1/2 medium onion
• 1/2 cup korean black soybean paste
• 2 tbsp water
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 50g cucumber
1. Dice pork loin, daikon, zucchini, onion and potato into 1cm cubes. Thinly slice cucumber.
2. Heat vegetable oil in a pan at medium-high heat and fry pork until cooked.
3. Add in potato and daikon and cook for 3 minutes.
4. Add in zucchini and onion and cook for 2 minutes.
5. Stir in korean black bean paste, ensuring all meat and vegetables are evenly coated. Reduce to medium heat and cook for 1 more minute.
6. Stir in sugar and water and simmer for 2 minutes.*
7. Cook and drain noodles according to instructions. Top with jja jang myun sauce and cucumber strips and serve.
Note: Dried noodles can be used instead of fresh if unavailable. Choose a thick, white wheat-based type noodle. Vegetables used in jja jang myeon can be freely varied. Try variants with carrot, peas, brocolli etc. Beef or chicken can be used instead of pork and meat can even be omitted for a vegetarian option.
* If sauce is too thick, add some additional water to thin it out. Conversely, if sauce is too thin, add some cornflour (mixed with cold water) to thicken it up.
Question time: Have you ever had an obsession where you felt nothing else mattered in the world? Do you still have that obsession and did you get anything out of it?