Note: today I’m republishing a recipe for zha jiang mian that I first published back in May 2010, with newer photos. Enjoy!
There’s one dish that I always am excited to eat whenever I go home — my dad’s zha jiang mian, or Chinese minced pork noodles. The noodles are usually served with fresh cilantro, green onion, julienned cucumber, and blanched bean sprouts on the side. I love it so much that I make it frequently as an easy weeknight staple.
My dad has made modifications to his version of zha jiang mian over the years, and every adjustment he’s made has made increases the delicious factor.
The best part about having zha jiang mian is that it doesn’t take long to prepare, especially if you have a sous chef willing to help wash and chop the garnishes (enter: hubby). At most, you can have dinner on the table in about 30-40 minutes. Just remember that the cucumber garnish must be julienned, not shredded in a Cuisinart or grated. The cucumber has to retain its water to be a crispy counterpart to the sweet minced pork. Grating or shredding it makes the cucumber soggy, and no one likes soggy cucumber garnish.
We had a batch of zha jiang mian earlier this week. It’s comfort food for us. Besides cucumber and bean sprouts, I also set out fresh cilantro (coriander), hot chili oil (you can buy it here) and balsamic vinegar as garnishes. Sometimes I’ll throw down some blanched bean sprouts and spring onions too, if I’m feeling fancy. Then I let everyone choose their own adventure with the toppings.
Hey, we make our fun here at home.
- 1 pound minced pork
- 8 ounces Chinese dried flour noodles (I use Wei-Chuan brand, but any flat flour noodle will do)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 shallots, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons shiro miso
- 1 package sweet bean paste (tianmianjang; you can purchase it here)
- Optional: ¼ pound baked tofu, brunoised
- For the garnishes:
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped, including green and
- white parts (optional)
- ½ pound bean sprouts, blanched (optional)
- 1-2 cucumbers, peeled, de-seeded, and julienned into matchsticks
- Balsamic vinegar and Chinese chili oil
- Prepare a large bowl of ice water (if you're going to be serving your noodles with bean sprouts; otherwise, omit this step).
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil; if using bean sprouts, blanch in boiling water for a few minutes, then pull the bean sprouts out of the pot with tongs and immediately plunk into ice water.
- Bring the water back up to a boil and add noodles, stirring occasionally. Cook according to the package directions.
- While noodles are cooking, heat olive oil over medium-low heat, then add garlic and shallots and saute until translucent.
- Add minced pork and saute 7-9 minutes until pork is cooked through. Stir in miso and sweet bean paste (note: the sweet bean paste may be really salty, so add it a little bit at a time to make sure you don't over sauce the meat).
- Remove from heat. Divide the noodles into 4 bowls and top with the minced meat topping. Serve with chili oil, cucumbers, balsamic vinegar, spring onions, cilantro and bean sprouts (if using).