One of the cinematic highlights of 2019 for me was Bong Joon Ho's acclaimed Parasite. This is neither a review nor a synopsis of the film (so no need to worry about spoilers here), but there is a key food scene in the movie that features a fun Korean noodle dish called jjapaguri, known also as ram-don in the movie's subtitles.
Now, what is jjapaguri (also spelled chapaguri or 짜파구리)? is a fairly modern mashup of two popular instant ramen (Korean ramyun) noodles: Chapagetti + Neoguri. The former consists of black bean noodles done in the the style of jjajangmyeon noodles; the latter is a spicy, seafood-inflected udon-style noodle in a brothy soup.
These spaghetti-style noodles come tossed with a Chinese black bean soy sauce, dehydrated carrots and onions, ground bean grains and spices.
In the movie, a big piece of Hanwoo steak is served along with the jjapaguri ramen noodles. There's a bit of loaded social commentary there, as Hanwoo beef is a very expensive product that can only be found in Korea (you might liken it to a Korean Kobe beef, of sorts), and it's getting tossed together with cheap instant noodles.
Plenty spicy, this package contains udon noodles and seafood and is often served in a broth.
Metaphors aside, there was no way I wasn't going to try my hand at recreating this very easy, albeit suddenly pricier, ramen noodle dish at home. I love Korean ramyun, and Chapagetti and Neoguri happen to be among my favorites. And steak? Well, you don't have to twist this girl's arm to indulge in a juicy cut.
I didn't have access to (or the budget for) a Hanwoo steak, but any cut with nice marbling, like a sirloin or ribeye steak, would do well here. I chose New York strip because, hey, that's what I like!
For the jjapaguri, I loosely followed the recipe video tutorial provided by Nongshim, the ramen parent company of the Korean instant noodles. After cooking the noodles, I combined them with perfectly seared steak cubes, as well as jjapaguri's favorite sidekick, Korean pickled radish or danmuji. I had a delicious time slurping up the springy noodles, coated in the spicy black bean sauce with tender pieces of steak, while fondly thinking back on the electric ride Parasite took me on. (See? No spoilers!)
Want to watch me make jjapaguri with steak? Watch the visual play-by-play on Chowhound's Instagram.
Jjapaguri / Chapaguri / Ram-don from Parasite
1 (6- to 8-ounce) steak, preferably sirloin, ribeye, or New York strip (you need some fatty marbling)
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon canola (or other neutral cooking) oil
4 to 5 cups water
1 package Chapagetti instant noodles
1 package Neoguri instant noodles
1. Cut the steak into bite-size pieces, approximately 3/4- to 1-inch chunks. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
2. In a medium pot, bring about 4 to 5 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat (this doesn't have to be precise as you'll be draining most of this liquid away).
3. Meanwhile, heat a sturdy pan (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. When it's hot but not smoking, add the oil and steak. Make sure not to crowd the pan. Do not fuss with the meat (you want the caramelized edges!). Cook to your desired taste. For medium-rare, cook on two sides for 1 minute each. Turn off heat and remove pan from heat source.
4. Make the noodles: Add both noodles and respective dehydrated vegetable packets. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, to your liking. Scoop out about three to four ladles of the cooking liquid before draining the noodles. Return the noodles to the pot. Add the Chapagetti black bean powder mix and just 1/2 (up to 2/3) of the Neoguri seasoning mix. Add in the noodle liquid and mix until everything is combined. Lastly, add the oil packet.
5. Add the steak pieces (with juices!) and mix. Serve with Korean pickled daikon (danmuji), kimchi and/or sliced cucumbers.