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Zha Jiang Mian   炸醬麵

From small street venders to the most fancy restaurants, you can find Zha Jiang Mian, also known as Taiwanese Minced Pork Noodles, just about anywhere throughout Taiwan. There are many iterations of this dish from region to region, and you can count on this old generation passed-down dish to not just be simple to make, but also offer complex, amazing flavors packed from bite to bite. I purposely created a recipe that serves between 6 to 8, because you will want to invite your friends over and share, or simply freeze the leftovers for another day. I would argue that the sauce actually tastes even better the second and third time around!

- Yu Tsai


by Yu Tsai
Serves  6 to 8
Prep time  30 Min
Cooks in  1.5 Hours
Difficulty  Medium

photo by Yu Tsai

Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground lean pork
  • 3/4 tablespoon of vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 4 to 5 garlic - minced garlic
  • 1/2 firm soy sauce tofu
  • 1 cup pickled napa cabbage (wash off salt, cut into cubes)
  • 1/8 cup shitake mushroom diced into small pieces
  • 8 oz of sweet flour sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 1/2 pickled cabbages (wash off salt and dice)
  • 2 julienned cucumbers
  • 1 julienned carrot
  • 1 fresh bundle of cilantro
  • 4 scallion stocks. Separate white and green parts and dice.
  • 1 1/2 cup of water

Instructions


Preparing the Sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add and fragrant the minced garlic and white part of the spring onions. Be careful not to burn the garlic. When you smell the oil releasing the garlic aroma, remove the toasted spring onion and garlic from of the oil. Set aside.
  2. Add the pork into the same wok. Stir-fry the pork while adding salt. Continuously break apart the ground pork into small chunky pieces. Cook the pork for about 1.5 minutes. When it is no longer pink in color, remove the pork from the wok and set it aside.
  3. In the same wok, toss in tofu, mushrooms, green parts of the spring onion and oil if needed. Stir-fry to bring out the aroma. Add water into the wok along with cooked mince garlic and the white part of the spring onion. Stir in sweet flour sauce with white wine and sugar. Mix well.
  4. When the sauce comes to a small boil, add the pork back into the wok along with the white pepper and the sesame oil. Mix and fold the sauce into the pork. At medium heat, continue to stir and cook the sauce until it reduces and thickens.
  5. Lastly, add Napa diced cabbage into the wok. Stir and mix together. Keep in mind that the Napa diced cabbage is already cooked. You only need to bring the sauce back to a small simmer to complete the sauce.
  6. Tasting for flavor is very important at this stage. Depending on the Napa diced cabbage salt content, you may not need to add any salt or soy sauce. If the sauce is not salty to your liking, add light soy sauce or a pinch of salt for flavor.

Noodles:

  1. Cook the noodles of your choice. I recommend thick and white noodles, which allows the sauce to coat on them for your taste buds.
  2. With Zha Jiang Mian, it is important to cook your noodles to a nice chewy bouncing texture. Rise under cold water to stop the cooking process. This prevents your noodles from over-cooking and the hot sauce you will be serving on them from over-cooking them.

Serving:

  1. It is nice to serve Zha Jiang Mian in a deep bowl, allowing the sauce to really set in and coat the noodles as you toss them.
  2. Place the cooled noodles in the bottom of your bowl. Generously spoon the hot steaming sauce over the top of the noodles. Top with shredded cucumbers and shredded carrots, and add few cilantro sprigs to finish the taste.
  3. Toss the noodles and topping before eating.

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