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Zhajiang Mian

Zhajiang Mian (Chinese pork and noodles in brown bean sauce)

(Chinese pork and noodles in brown bean sauce)

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Zhajiang mian (炸酱面) is a popular, rib-sticking noodle dish from Northern China. It has been compared to the Italian spaghetti bolognese. Brown bean sauce is found in jars at most Asian markets. Names of other sauces often used in this dish include yellow bean paste, broad bean sauce, sweet noodle sauce and hot bean paste. There is no hard and fast rule. Use whatever sauce you like and can find.

2 to 3 servings

Ingredients

  • Chinese egg noodles -- 1 pound
  • Stock or water -- 3/4 cup
  • Brown bean sauce -- 2 or 3 tablespoons
  • Hoisin sauce -- 2 or 3 tablespoons
  • Salt 1 teaspoon
  • Oil -- 2 or 3 tablespoons
  • Garlic, minced -- 1 tablespoon
  • Scallions, finely chopped-- 4
  • Ground pork -- 1/2 pound

Method

  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the stock or water, brown bean sauce, hoisin sauce and salt. Adjust seasoning to taste and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil over high flame in a wok or large pot. Add the garlic and scallions and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add the ground pork and stir fry just until the pink disappears.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, pour in the sauce and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked noodles to the wok and mix with sauce to heat through. Serve hot in deep bowls.

Zhajiang Mian Variations

  • Noodles: Use any type of wheat noodles you have on hand. Japanese-style udon noodles work well. You can even use Italian spaghetti noodles. Instead of stirring the noodles into the sauce, another way to serve is to place the plain noodles in bowls and then pour the sauce over the top.
  • Meat and Vegetarian Variations: Substitute ground chicken or beef for the pork if you like. Or use crumbled tofu or finely chopped edamame for a vegetarian dish.
  • Sauce: The sauce for zhajiang mian varies a lot from region to region. Yellow bean paste is used most in Beijing and the north, but broad bean sauce and hoisin are common elsewhere. Sichuan cooks will often add a bit of spice with hot bean paste. It's really up to your own taste. You can also adjust the flavor with a pinch of sugar or a dash of vinegar.
  • Vegetables: For a full meal in a bowl, feel free to add other vegetables: shiitake mushrooms, chopped spinach, shredded Chinese cabbage, julienne carrots, peas. Saute finely chopped mushrooms with the ground pork. Add other vegetables after you have cooked the pork and before you add the sauce. Simmer the sauce long enough to just cook the vegetables through.
  • Garnish: Zhajiang mian is usually served with a garnish of thinly sliced cucumbers, thinly sliced scallions and shredded carrots.