This morning I had an espresso. My husband bought bread, eggs, ham and cheese for breakfast, but in my caffeine fueled excitement, I decided I had enough ingredients to make a delicious dish called zhajiang mein.
I dual-sourced this recipe between the internet and my trusty cookbook by Celia Chiang. I added a few of my own embellishments, too!
A week ago, I made a garlic, chili condiment for a Mexican dish. I needed spicy bean paste, so I made my own. I keep a pound of fermented soy beans in the fridge as it is a common ingredient in a lot of Chinese dishes. Add equal parts rinsed bean, chili paste, sesame oil, vegetarian hoisin, soy sauce and fresh grated garlic for a delicious bean paste sauce!
Sliced cucumber and cilantro are for garnish, but must be prepared all n advanced due to the fast cooking sauce. Similarly, you need to cook, and rinse the noodles. I used thin egg noodles today since I like the springy texture vs thick and chewy thicker noodles, which I like for dinner dishes.
Luckily, I have access to vegetarian and vegan versions of sauces and soup bases. “Better than Bullion” is great as a thinner broth for my sauce and vegetarian hoisin is nice to add for texture and semi sweet sauciness. If you don’t care for these, it’s probably helpful to add a little corn or thickening starch to add body to the sauce. This recipe calls for coarsely chopped pork, but today I used fatty skirt steak. You can also use extra firm tofu, bean curd, small aubergines or eggplant for a vegan version and serve on rice noodles. Possibilities are endless.
Remember how I said cooking this I’d fast? Well, after almost all is cooked, this photo was taken about 4 minutes into wok tossing.. and it is almost done. I blanched the cooked noodles in boiling broth before dishing up. This gets everything piping hot. I also added a little broth to thin out the sauce. This is my personal preference as it tastes less oily.
Noodles, cucumber and sauce in a bowl. You mix this dish at the table. Add cilantro as garnish of you like.