Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beijing "Fried Sauce" Noodles (Zhajiangmian)

Love this dish! Zhajiangmian is a famous Beijing noodle dish that is topped with a thick brown meat sauce traditionally made using ground pork, sweet soy bean paste, soy sauce, garlic, and water (all thickened with a bit of cornstarch slurry). The sauce is served over freshly cooked thin wheat noodles (similar to a spaghetti-type pasta) and garnished with julienned cucumbers and other fresh veggies. There are variations of course, and my version includes a bit of finely chopped red onion or shallot, finely diced pressed bean curd, rice wine, sugar, and sesame oil. The veggie garnishes typically consist of julienned cucumbers and carrots, but I like to use cucumbers, blanched bean sprouts and a sprinkling of finely chopped scallions. 

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped red onion or shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. ground pork

1 1/2 cups hard/pressed bean curd (2 squares), finely diced
1 tbsp. Shaohsing or rice wine
1 tbsp. sugar
6 tbsp. soy sauce
5 tbsp. sweet soy bean paste
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 cups water

1 lb. fresh thin wheat noodles or spaghetti

Cornstarch slurry:
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water 

12 oz. bean sprouts (blanched in boiling water 20-30 secs, then rinsed under cold tap water)
1 hothouse cucumber, julienned
Minced scallion (optional)
1 medium carrot, julienned (optional)

1. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauce for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add the ground pork and cook until the pork is just done. 

2. Add the diced bean curd, Shaohsing wine, sugar, soy sauce, sweet soy bean paste, sesame oil and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced a bit. 

3. In the meantime, bring a medium stock pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles 5-6 minutes, or until just tender. Remove and drain. 

4. Bring the meat sauce back up to a boil and stir in the cornstarch slurry. Stir briefly until the sauce has thickened, then remove the pan from the heat. 

5. To serve: use tongs and place about 2 cups of noodles into each individual serving bowl. Ladle a generous amount of the meat sauce on one side of the noodles and garnish with bean sprouts, julienned cucumbers, and minced scallion, as desired. 

Sweet bean sauce and pressed tofu. There are 4 squares to a package and I use 2 squares for this recipe. 

Finely minced garlic, red onion, and diced pressed tofu. 

Sesame oil, Shaohsing wine, soy sauce and vegetable oil. 

Saute the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until translucent. 

Add the ground pork and when cooked through, stir in the diced bean curd. 

Add the wine, sugar, soy sauce, sweet bean paste, sesame oil and 2 cups of water. 

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the stock has reduced. Bring the mixture up to a boil and stir in the cornstarch slurry to thicken. Turn off the heat. 

In the meantime, blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water for 20-30 seconds.  

Pour the sprouts into a colander to drain and rinse with cold tap water to stop the cooking. Set aside.  

Julienne the cucumbers with a mandolin slicer (if you have one). Otherwise, you can do it by hand but it will just take forever...just sayin' 

 Cook your fav Chinese wheat noodles (spaghetti is a good substitute) until al dente. Drain and set aside. 

 To serve, place a helping of noodles into a bowl, then top with a generous ladle or two of the meat sauce. Garnish with the julienned cucumbers, blanched bean sprouts, and a bit of minced scallion if desired. Feel free to add some julienned carrots, too. 

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