September 13, 2009

Zha Jiang Mian (Noodles with Soy Bean Sauce)

Zha Jian Mian is one of my favorite Chinese noodle dishes to eat and cook because of its simplicity and its versatility. This version is made with a fermented soy bean sauce topped with carrots, cucumbers and scrambled eggs. There are so many ways to prepare this dish, once you've tried it, you'll taste the possibilities.

This recipe will feed about 4 adults.

1 pound of fresh thick Chinese noodles
1 Large Chinese Cucumber thinly sliced
1 Large Carrot thinly sliced or shredded
2 Large Eggs, beaten with some salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds of ground pork
1 tablespoon of ginger, minced
1 tablespoon of garlic, minced
2/3 cup of fermented soy bean sauce (if unsweetened, add sugar to desired taste)
1 tablespoon of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sambal chili sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the soy bean sauce, chicken brother, soy sauce, sambal, and sesame oil together and set aside. Be sure to taste and make adjustments if necessary.

Assemble the thinly sliced cucumber and carrot on a plate. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Right when the oil starts to smoke, pour the beaten eggs into the skillet and let the egg mixture cook until the top is settled and you are able to flip it like a pancake. Take a large spatula, use two if necessary, and flip the egg pancake over and cook until the bottom is nice and golden. Remove the egg pancake to a cutting board, let it cool and slice thinly.

Return the skillet to the stove and heat the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet for about 15-20 seconds and then add the ground pork. Break the pork apart with a spatula and season with salt and pepper. When the pork is cooked through and no longer pink, add the sauce to the skillet and mix well. Be sure to taste again and make any necessary adjustments. If you find the sauce a bit overpowering, it is fine because the flavors will tone down once mixed with the noodles and toppings.

The noodles can be served cold or hot. If served cold, be sure to mix in a little bit of vegetable oil to keep the noodles from sticking together.

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