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Korean Black Bean Paste (Chunjang)

What is Korean black bean paste (Chunjang)? Let’s learn!

Korean Black Bean Paste (Chunjang) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean black bean paste (Chunjang, 춘장) is made from a salty fermented soybean and coloured with caramel. It is an essential condiment to make “Korean black bean sauce noodles (Jajangmyeon, 자장면)“.

It has a slightly bitter and salty taste on its own, so some sugar is added when making Korean black bean sauce (Jajang, 자장: stir-fried Korean black bean paste with meat & vegetables).

While Korean black bean paste may have been introduced by a Chinese merchant into Korea, it is different to Chinese black bean paste as it evolved to meet Korean’s taste buds.

Korean Black Bean Paste (Chunjang) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

The above container of black bean paste (500g) was purchased for $3.30 (AUD) and this or a similar one should be available from any Korean/Asian grocery store.

An alternative to this Korean black bean paste is Korean black bean sauce powder, as below. It is easier to use than the paste as all you need to do is dissolve the powder with water. However, it doesn’t give as deep flavour as the paste.

Korean Black Bean Sauce Powder (Jjajang Garu) | MyKoreanKitchen.com


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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: May 13, 2019
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Welcome to my Korean kitchen! I’m so happy that you're here. I am Sue, the creator behind My Korean Kitchen (since 2006). I love good food and simplifying recipes. Here you will find my best and family approved recipes. Thanks for stopping by!

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48 thoughts on “Korean Black Bean Paste (Chunjang)”

  1. Hi, do you have tutorial on how to make the black bean paste? It is hard to find chunjang from where I was but the fermented black bean in can is available on the supermarket. I am looking for that but I cant seem to find anywhere in the internet. They are giving results on chinese black bean paste.

    Reply
  2. Hi! I’m Jojo from the Philippines.
    I have just discovered the flavors of Korea. I was drawn to chappaguri in Parasite and have made variations on add-ons every time I make them. Recently, as chappaghetti is difficult to source here in Manila, not to mention they are expensive compared to other instant noodle packs, I am trying to learn how to make Jjajang Myeun from scratch. Alas, Chunjang is also difficult to source. Yeterday at the local Korean Grocery I discovered Ottogi Jjajang powder which I thought was Chunjang (stupid me, the store crew did say it was powder) How can I improve on the quality and taste if I use powder as opposed to the paste? is the proper ratio to use Jjajang powder 1:1 and what’s the best type of noodles to use for Jjang Myeun.
    Thanks in advance and more power!

    Reply
  3. I’ve been looking for that paste for over a month- I have all the other jjajangmyeon ingredients except for it- and it’s not in any of the asian grocery stores close to me. The nearest Korean grocery store is about an hour and a half away and I can’t go that far. Thinking of ordering it online. But I was wondering, is there anyway I could make it myself?

    Reply
      • I really hope you upload the recipe soon because this paste is not available in my country and no website delivering. Will appreciate a recipe pleeeeease 🙏🙏🙏🙏

        Reply
  4. What other dishes can I make with this other than the black bean noodles? I’m vegan. Can I use it in a soup?

    Reply
    • This is quite strong tasting ingredient. Honestly, I haven’t come across any other dishes that uses this sauce except for the black bean sauce.
      Also, just to be clear, when you make the black bean sauce using this paste, you can serve it over rice or noodles.

      Reply
  5. Question Sue
    I am in a big city in the US but the Korean grocery store is ALL out of Korean black bean paste. However, I found a jar of whole fermented black beans. Do you have a recipe for making your own chunjang or what the ingredients are IN chunjang? I tried looking but couldn’t really find much beside recipes for Chinese black bean paste. Any help would be much appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi Kelsey, I don’t have the recipe for it. (I might try it from scratch one of these days. 😊) Listed ingredients for above bottle (https://amzn.to/2YSKgFk) is water, wheat flour, caramel, soybean powder, salt, L-Glutamate, potassium sorbate, sodium pyrophosphate, glycerin esters of fatty acid.

      I also just checked Amazon site and according them, the stock will be available from 15 May, so maybe it’s worth waiting? 🙂

      Reply
  6. Hey I just brought black bean paste the first time I made jjajangmyeon I had made it with sauce from regular market but since I was in H mart I decided to get black bean paste but not sure how to store it

    Reply
  7. Hi Sue. I’m wondering if there’s any uses for this paste besides making Jajangmyeon? I really like the taste but not sure what else to do with it. Can it be used for example as a stir fry base?

    Reply
      • I haven’t tried with those sauce yet. You can get chunjang from a Korean grocer in Australia though. Also, in this uncertain climate, where grocery shopping is not as convenient, it’s totally OK to be creative with what you have at home. 🙂

        Reply
  8. Hello Sue! I wanted to make 짜장면, but the black bean past I have (same brand as pictured in this article) has an expiration date from 2014. Four years past it’s due date, can I still use it?

    Reply
  9. Is it possible to substitute chunjang with ssamjang for black bean noodles? If not then would black bean garlic sauce work?

    Reply
    • Hi Ivy, I’m assuming you want to make black bean noodles? If so, please, NO!!! They are totally different. Where do you live? Did you consider an online store?

      Reply
  10. hola sue , como estas . tu me puedes decir cual es la diferencia entre la pasta de frijol koreana con la pasta de frijol chino. Y como se llamaria en chino . gracias

    Reply
  11. Hello! I was watching some food videos on Youtube and got really craving for the black bean noodles I always see people eat with so much gusto. It looks so… hearty and fulfilling. Like it’s something you gobble gobble while your eyes roll up into your skull.

    Anyway.

    I live in the outskirts of Japan and can’t really travel out into the metropolis just to get ingredients. At our local supermarket though, they have a very limited Korean aisle. At first, I tried the ready-to-eat Jajangmyeon packets they have there. But it must’ve been Japanified; its orange-color sauce is like tomato-based and really sweet and watery with lots of carrots for some reason. The meat inside is ground into tiny bits. It’s good, but I want the real experience.

    So I want to cook it on my own. I managed to get most of the ingredients… except for the most crucial one. Alas, they don’t have that Chunjang black sauce. So I was wondering if I can substitute it using 甜麺醤 (Tienmenjang)?

    Reply
    • Hi Roland, I’m not familiar with the sauce you’re referring. If you’re really keen, you will have to give it a try and see if the taste comes close to the real Jajangmyeon sauce. Like you said, chunjang (black bean sauce) is very important in this dish. FYI – some people who tried Chinese black bean sauce told me that the taste wasn’t the same. (I’m not sure whether this Chinese black bean sauce is same as Tienmenjang or not.) Hope this helps!

      Reply
  12. I tried making chunjang,the black bean paste. I thought I carefully followed the recipe that I found online. It was disappointing. The finished product was grayish and not smooth at all like I’ve seen on several blogs. I’ll use it, but I guess I should use the commercial product that is sold at the local Korean market.

    Reply
    • Hi Mike, Sorry to hear your black bean sauce didn’t turn out well. I didn’t think it was an easy task! Though, I’m hoping to master this sauce one day too. 🙂

      Reply
    • Hi, Mike.I tried making my own and it turned out greyish too. But I read somewhere they added some sorta caramel coloring before they ferment it so I guess that makes the black color? Does your homemade paste taste like the commercial ones?

      Reply
  13. Any tips about how one could make this sauce oneself? I would want to start with fermented black beans and go from there. Maple syrup? minced ginger and garlic? Thanks for any tips.

    Reply
    • Hi Pete, As I haven’t tried making the paste myself yet, I can’t offer you any useful tips. 🙂 Though main listed ingredients are soybean, wheat flour, salt and water. I hope to share this recipe one day!

      Reply
  14. Hello, I have some allergies, therefore I was wondering if you can tell me the ingredients of this sauce, does it contains MSG or any beef related ingredients?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Main ingredients are soybean, wheat flour, salt and water. I’m afraid to say that this particular brand contains MSG. (Other brand could be different though.) I don’t see any trace of beef.

      Reply
  15. Hi sue..I have a question about this black bean paste brand. i just bought the same as yours. but I m wondering is this brand is suitable for vegetarian?

    Reply

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