Jjambbong (Korean-Chinese Spicy Noodle Soup)
- 12-14 ounces fresh jajangmyeon or udon noodles*
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- One 1-inch piece ginger, julienned
- 2 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 1 tablespoon Korean chile pepper flakes (gochugaru), or to taste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 ounces fatty pork, sliced thinly
- 1/4 onion, sliced thinly
- 1/2 carrot, sliced thinly into 2-inch lengths
- 4 ounces cabbage, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 1/2 zucchini, sliced thinly into 2-inch lengths
- 2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced thinly (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 cups chicken stock, anchovy broth, or water
- 4-6 littleneck clams, cleaned
- 4-6 mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 4-6 shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 ounces cleaned squid, cut into bite-sized pieces**
This spicy red noodle soup, jjambbong (also spelled jjamppong), is one of the most popular Korean-Chinese dishes, alongside another noodle dish called jajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce). Adapted for Korean taste by early Chinese immigrants to Korea, Korean-Chinese cuisine (although called Chinese by Koreans) is a huge part of Korean food culture. Korean-Chinese restaurants are everywhere in Korea. Every Korean especially loves the two noodle dishes, jajangmyeon and jjambbong. Oftentimes, Koreans have a hard time choosing between the two when eating out.
You will find it surprisingly easy to make this popular bowl of noodle soup at home with easy-to-find ingredients. Restaurants use hand-pulled noodles (that are a tad chewy), but for home cooking you can find ready-made fresh noodles at Korean markets. Another option is to simply use spaghetti or linguini noodles. The soup is typically made with chicken stock for a rich flavor, but you can also use anchovy broth for a cleaner, lighter taste. This soup also incorporates pork, chile-infused oil, and various vegetables and seafood. The combination of all the natural ingredients creates a hearty bowl of soup that is packed with robust flavors. The spiciness will surely clear your sinuses!
Bring a large pot of water to boil. While making the soup, cook the noodles according to package directions and drain.
Heat a wok or a large pot over high heat. Add the oil, ginger, scallions, chile flakes, and soy sauce and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add the pork and stir-fry until the pork is almost cooked, about 2 minutes. Stir in the onion, carrot, cabbage, zucchini, and mushrooms, if using. Season lightly with salt, and cook until the vegetables are slightly softened, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock (or anchovy broth or water) and bring to a boil. Add the seafood starting with the clams, followed by the mussels, shrimp, and squid.
Return to a boil and cook until the shells have opened. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place a serving of the noodles in a large soup bowl and ladle the soup on top. Serve immediately while piping hot.
*Note: You can also use dried spaghetti or linguini noodles.
**Note: Don’t cut the squid too small since it shrinks a lot while cooking.