Ja Jiang Mein (Noodles with Meat Sauce)

In northern China, people enjoy this flavorful noodle dish hot or at room temperature. Enjoy ja jiang mein at whatever temperature you like. (And any time is noodle time in northern China.) In case you’re wondering, ja jiang mein translates to fried sauce noodles. It’s not the noodles that are fried, it’s how you cook up the sauce.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 8 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup sweet bean paste

1 tablespoon chile garlic sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil

10 ounces dried wheat noodles or fresh egg noodles

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 onion

1/2 pound ground meat (pork is traditional, but beef or chicken will work too)

1 cucumber

1 carrot

  1. Combine the chicken broth, sweet bean paste, garlic sauce, soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a small bowl.

  2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles according to the package directions.

  3. Drain the noodles, rinse them with cold water, and drain again.

  4. Place a wok over high heat until hot.

  5. Add the cooking oil, swirling to coat the sides.

  6. Mince the garlic.

  7. Add 1 tablespoon garlic to the wok and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds.

  8. Dice the onion.

  9. Add 1 cup onion to the wok and stir-fry until almost translucent, about 2 minutes.

  10. Add the meat and stir-fry until brown and crumbly, about 2 minutes.

  11. Add the sauce and cook until the sauce boils and thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.

  12. Before serving, toss the noodles with 1 tablespoon sesame oil to coat.

  13. Place on a serving plate and pour the sauce over the noodles

  14. Thinly julienne the cucumber and carrot, then place on top of the noodles.

When purchasing sweet bean paste — a salty-sweet paste made from fermented soybeans and sugar — don’t confuse it with sweet bean sauce, which has a very different consistency. Pastes are thicker than sauces.

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