Cycle 3 – Item 281
12 (Fri) October 2012
Spaghetti in 3-Minute Jjajang Sauce
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ
I’m off to Sri Lanka tomorrow.
In keeping with my morbid tradition of eating jjajang myeon the evening before getting on a plane – just in case it crashes, I’d want the final dinner to have consisted of my favorite dish – I tried another variation on the theme. Before the trip to Cambodia a couple weeks ago, I’d made the instant version (see 3.266 Chapaghetti). This time, I went with the quasi-instant version from Ottogi’s 3-minute series. Each box contains a pre-made sauce sealed in a foil baggy that’s heated up in boiling water for around three minutes. Cutting the baggy open, the sauce is poured over rice or noodles, not included. When the company introduced the product in the 80s, starting with curry, it was a huge sensation. Other sauces soon followed, including jjajang.
During college, every Korean-American student that I knew had at least a few boxes in their cupboards. I’d combine the jjajang sauce with spaghetti noodles. It wasn’t good, and it certainly wasn’t anything like real jjajang myeon, but it was what it was. And I have fond memories of it, regardless.
But this evening, looking forward to a taste of nostalgia, I was disappointed to find that it wasn’t anything at all like I remembered, again either because the product or I or both had changed over the years. I could barely get past the first bite. Even W was shocked at how awful the sauce now seemed to be. How sad that I’ve lost yet another food that I once enjoyed.
The idea to use spaghetti, though it’s not especially inspiring, was inspired by a girl that I knew in college who’d annoy the living fuck out of me by referring to Korean foods by analogy to other foods, gimbab as “Korean sushi” or gochujang as “Korean ketchup” or myeongran jeot as “Korean caviar” or jjajang myeon as “Korean spaghetti.”
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)