February 14th is widely recognized as Valentine’s Day, a time for love of all sorts to flourish. In response, March 14th is White Day, celebrated by some Asian cultures as an opportunity to give back to those who initiated the romantic gestured, traditionally split along gendered lines. This binary reciprocation is lost on me, but what I can appreciate is the following month, April 14th, that brings us Black Day.
What Is Black Day?
Black Day (블랙데이) is found only in South Korea, observed by single people that missed out on the previous two love fests. The name is a cheeky reference to those with loveless black hearts and their loneliness, as if the world’s population of unattached people are all deeply depressed by remaining independent. Rejecting this theory, I much prefer the implications it has for the traditional celebratory food: Black noodles.
What Are Black Noodles?
Jjajangmyeon (짜장면), thick wheat noodles with an inky black sauce made from fermented bean paste. Full of vegetables and either meat or seafood, it should go without saying that my rendition would automatically be inauthentic, but delicious as a wholly separate dish inspired by this tradition.
What Makes My Take on Jjajangmyeon Special
Beyond being plant-based, there are a few unique twists that make my recipe a unique spin on the Korean classic.
- Food-grade charcoal creates that perfect pitch-black tint.
- Fermented black garlic adds an extra layer of umami funk.
- No added sugar prevents the sauce from the common pitfall of becoming too sweet.
- Extra-chunky cuts on an abundance of vegetables makes for a much more satisfying, hearty meal.
What Are The Best Noodles for Jjajangmyeon?
Fresh wheat noodles are the best choice, but those can be tough to find outside of large Asian markets.
- Dried lo mein are my top choice, with their squared edges and toothsome yet slippery texture.
- Ramen noodles work as well for a springier bite.
- Thick spaghetti can work in a pinch, though they’re my least favorite option, personally.
You don’t have to be single to appreciate a hot bowlful of these black noodles, and you certainly shouldn’t feel sad about it either way. As a prime opportunity to indulge in this savory comfort food, Black Day is always a bright spot on my calendar.