Zha Jiang Mian / Za Jiang Mein
Zha Jiang Mian / Za Jiang Mein (炸酱面) literally means fried (pork) sauce noodles - it is a popular Northern Chinese dish that consists of noodles topped with a minced meat sauce that is fried in bean paste. The sauce is similar to a bolognese sauce - except that this does not have tomatoes in them.
The most important ingredient would have to be the bean paste (more explanation at the end of the post). It is the ingredient that gives this dish a unique and delicious flavour.
I got this recipe from X's mom and it's a really simple and delicious dish to prepare! I've also included a Chinese version of the dish as well because... well, it's a Chinese dish!
Cast of ingredients:
Background (left to right): Light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, white pepper, spicy bean paste, Chinese black vinegar, sesame oil
Foreground (left to right) - Japanese cucumber, carrot, garlic, onion, minced pork
Missing: Shiitake mushrooms
First, fry the carrot and onion.
In goes the garlic.
Then the pork.
The softened shiitake mushrooms...
...and the spicy bean paste.
Fry, fry fry!
Add in water and simmer till all the flavours meld altogether.
Thicken with a little corn starch solution and it's done!
The sauce should be wetter than the above pictured, I over-cooked it a little 🙁
Delicious meat sauce with crunchy cucumber!
- 500 grams noodles
- 6 pieces of dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 large red onion, chopped into small pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled and cubed
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 700 grams minced meat
- 3 tablespoons spicy bean paste
- 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- Salt and white pepper
- 1 Japanese cucumber, shredded finely
- Spring onion, chopped - for garnish
- Chili oil (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season with 1 teaspoon salt. Add in the noodles and cook per package's instructions, or until soft and tender. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water until the noodles are cooled. Drizzle with a little olive oil and stir around so that the noodles don't stick to each other. Keep it covered aside until needed.
- Place the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl, add in enough boiling water (not the water used to cook the noodles) until they are covered. Soak them for 30 minutes until they became soft. Squeeze them dry, chop and discard the stems. Dice or slice the mushrooms. Strain the mushroom water to get rid of any dirt or grit and top up with plain water until it reaches 750 ml (1.5 cups).
- In a large pot, add in a good couple of lugs of oil and heat over medium heat. Add in the onion and carrot and sautéed until the onion has softened and became translucent. Add in the garlic and sautéed until fragrant. Add in the minced pork and cook until the most of the pork's no longer pink in colour. Add in the sliced/diced mushrooms and the bean paste.
- Add in the reserved mushroom water and the dark soy sauce, vinegar, light soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a boil, then turn it down to low heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning till it suits your taste. Add more water if the sauce is too dry.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water and stir into the sauce gradually until it starts to thicken. You may not need all of it.
- Place the noodles in individual bowls and spoon the sauce generously over the noodles. Top with shredded cucumber and spring onion and drizzle in chili oil if desired. Dig in while it's hot!
 Sweet bean paste/sauce (甜面酱) - this is a thick and dark-colored Chinese sauce made from wheat flour, sugar, salt, and fermented yellow soybeans. As the name suggests, it is a slightly sweet sauce - I like my noodles to be salty, so I omitted the sweet bean paste and used Doubanjiang instead (see next ingredient).
 Dou-ban-jiang / Bean paste/sauce (豆瓣酱) - this is a salty paste made from fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice and various other spices. There are two different kinds of bean paste available out there - one is a plain version while the other is the spicy version. The spicy version is known as la dou-ban-jang (辣豆瓣酱). In my recipe, I used the spicy version - not a huge amount is used so the spiciness is quite mild, which was how we liked it. You can use a mixture of sweet bean paste, normal/spicy bean paste.
 The bean paste is very salty, so add a little soy sauce at the start first, then adjust as necessary after the simmering.
 Chinese black vinegar - the recipe I have uses black vinegar, which I think is not common in other zha jiang mien recipes. X and I are lovers of black vinegar so I actually double/triple the amount used everytime I cook this.
 Shiitake mushrooms - in Chinese cuisine, we often use dried shiitake mushrooms instead of fresh ones. Dried mushrooms have a stronger flavour as compared to fresh ones. Soak them in hot water until they are soft, cut and discard the stems then dice them. The water used to soak the mushrooms can be added into the meat sauce, boosting the flavours.
 Noodles - traditional noodles used for this dish are fresh flat noodles - like linguine without eggs. Dried ones can be used as well.
- 500克 幼面／宽面条
- ６片 香菇
- １粒 红葱头
- １条 萝卜
- ４粒 大蒜
- ７００克 猪肉馅
- ３汤匙 辣豆瓣酱
- ２汤匙 黑醋／浙醋
- １汤匙 老抽／黑酱油
- １汤匙 麻油
- １／２汤匙 生抽／酱清
- １／２汤匙 白糖
- ２汤匙 蜀粉
- １条 日本黄瓜，切丝