Friends, by the time you are reading this post, I’ve arrived in Dalian, China on a much anticipated trip home. It has been over a year since I’ve been home, which is much too long. In celebration of this very special occasion, and in honor of my grandpa, an authentic Beijing-er, who first instilled in me a passion for great cooking, I’d like to share with you all our homemade recipe for Zhajiangmian (pronounced ja-jiong-mien), which translates quite literally to Fried Sauce Noodles.
- Pork belly, 1/2 pound
- Vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon
- Chinese dark soybean paste, 2 cups
- Soy sauce, 1.5 tablespoons
- Cane or brown sugar, 1 teaspoon
- Green onion, chopped
- Noodles, 4 cups cooked
- Tomato, 1
- Cucumber, 1
- Rice vinegar
- Hot pepper sauce
- First, it is important that the pork belly you use has even portions of fat and lean meat. The fatty portions will add oil to help the sauce mix the noodles and add richness to the fried sauce. Trim any skin off the pork belly and cut the pork belly into approximately quarter-inch cubes. Helpful tip: Freeze the pork belly overnight and cube while the pork belly is in the process of defrosting at room temperature. The frozen firmness of the pork belly makes it much easier to cut into small, even pieces.
- In a wok, sauté the cubed pork belly in a teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium heat until the pork belly is fully opaque. Remove the cooked pork belly from the wok while leaving all melted fat and leftover oil in the wok.
- Sauté the soybean paste in the leftover oil and add in the sugar and soy sauce. Continuously stir the soybean paste to prevent burning and make sure that the soybean paste is cooked thoroughly for approximately 4-5 minutes. After the soybean paste is fully cooked, turn off the heat then mix in the chopped green onions. Your fried sauce is now ready!
- When ready to serve, cook noodles according to package directions and cut the cucumbers and tomatoes into thin strips. We often add additional seasonal vegetable toppings, such as bean sprouts or radishes, though cucumber has always been a required topping to our family because it adds such great crunch and texture.
If you like a little more pop of flavor like I do, add rice vinegar and hot pepper sauce to taste. I never say no to an opportunity to add spiciness! Enjoy!