Thursday, 23 February 2012

Zhajiang Mian (Noodles with Pork & Yellow Soybean Paste)



OK, well I’ll say straight off that this wasn’t the greatest of successes. It was though something that I’d been wanting to try for some time - an adaptation of Zhajiang mian, which can kind of be described as a Chinese spaghetti bolognese. This is, in part, based on Ken Hom’s “bean sauce noodles” recipe which can be found here.

I had, or so I thought, a glut of packets of yellow bean sauce, brought back from a trip to Beijing, which I felt I should at least partly use up. So it seemed as good a time as ever to give this a go. As it turned out, what I have are packets of yellow bean paste, much thicker and darker than sauce, and with no whole beans. In my infinite wisdom I decided that I should increase the amount of chilli bean sauce slightly, and also add some (rinsed) salted, fermented black beans to compensate for the lack of whole beans in the yellow bean paste. I also added some rehydrated shredded woodear mushrooms which add, in my opinion at least, a quintessentially Chinese texture to this sort of dish.

Now, do bear in mind that fermented black beans can be very salty - but, and it’s quite a big but, I did rinse them thoroughly and furthermore I didn’t add the teaspoon of salt that Hom adds in his recipe, as I felt that was just overkill taking the other ingredients into consideration. But it still tasted very salty. Not salty in a needing to drink ten pints of water type of way, but very salty all the same. I’d actually intended to add some zha cai (as can be seen in the ingredients pic), again for a bit of crunch and added texture but also because I love it, but forgot*. Thank god I did in all honesty as that may have been a sodium step too far!

I will try this again at some point as I do think that potentially it will be very good, and right up my street but what follows is, as cooked. It’s OK in this form, but as I say, pretty salty and not quite there yet.


Zhajiang mian - noodles with pork & yellow soybean paste
Serves 2


170g dried noodles
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp groundnut oil
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
10g fresh root ginger, finely chopped
2 medium spring onions, finely chopped plus 2 coarsely chopped (for garnish)
250g minced pork
2 tbsp whole yellow bean sauce
2 tsp chilli bean sauce
1 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed & slightly crushed
2 tbsp dried shredded woodear mushrooms (black fungus), rehydrated & drained
2½ tsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
¼ tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp sugar
150ml water
* I also didn’t add any chilli oil as can be seen in the photo below for other reasons



Heat, a wok over high heat then add the oil. When it starts to smoke add the the garlic, ginger and spring onions. Stir-fry for 15 seconds, taking care not to burn the ingredients then add the minced pork.

Stir all the time, pressing down with the back of a wooden spoon to break up the pork and continue to stir-fry for a few minutes until it is no longer pink.

Add the rest of the ingredients, apart from the noodles, sesame oil and coarsely chopped onions, stirring all the time.

Bring the mixture to the boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for five minutes.



Meanwhile cook the noodles according to package instructions (possibly difficult if, like mine, they are in Mandarin) and when cooked drain well and toss through the sesame oil.

Tip the noodles into the wok then mix everything together well. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the coarsely chopped spring onions.




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