一个人的午餐 – Zhajiang Noodles 炸醬麵
Making lunch for one is often a simple yet ironically troublesome affair. When I’m at home over lunchtime, its usually involves whipping up a simple fried rice or instant noodles to be enjoyed with luncheon meat, chicken franks or CP shrimp wantons! Instant gratification I tell you… well, its more like less washing up for me afterwards! A couple of days ago, Eelin from the batter baker was asking me over MSN what she could do with hoisin sauce and leftover tau kwa and there could only be one answer, 炸醬麵 Zha Jiang Mian! Its easy to prepare as long as you have all the ingredients in place and yet, it could easily be tailored to suit your own liking or more importantly whatever’s in your fridge. Today I found myself craving for this dish which I hadn’t made in quite a while. So here goes!
The main ingredients for ZJM are pretty standard, i.e. minced pork, a block of tau kwa, Japanese cucumber, and some fermented soya bean paste of some sort. The rest of it could be adjusted to to whatever you have. And my version, for today’s lunch, is based on what I have in the fridge and pantry!
Recipe for 炸醬麵 (makes 4)
250g 猪肉碎/猪绞肉/猪肉脞 minced pork (can be substituted with beef or chicken)
1 large block of 豆干 tau kwa (or two medium ones)
1 黄瓜 Japanese cucumber
1 红辣椒 red chilli (optional)
1 洋葱 small onion OR 1 tbsp of deep fried shallots
2 cloves of 蒜头 garlic
1-2 large 香菇 dried shiitake mushrooms
Seasoning and Condiments
2 tbsp of 菜油 cooking oil
2 tbsp 甜面酱 sweet fermented soya bean paste or 海鲜酱 hoisin sauce or even miso paste
2 tbsp of 辣豆瓣酱 spicy fermented soya bean paste
1 tbsp 酱油/老抽 dark soya sauce
a small handful of 豆豉 salted black beans
dash of pepper
dash of sesame oil
Mise en place
wash cucumber and julienned into long narrow strips
dice tau kwa into tiny cubes
soak dried shiitake mushrooms in water at RT and diced into tiny cubes
slice red chilli longitudinally and remove seeds and inner membrane. Rinse and dice finely
Chop finely garlic and small onion if using
rinse the small handful of salted black beans with water to remove salt crystals
heat up a wok or deep saucepan and pour in vegetable oil
add chopped onions and saute, followed by chopped garlic
add sweet bean paste, spicy bean paste and salted black beans, and quickly stirfry until fragrant
add minced pork and stirfry quickly, using a spatula to break up the pieces into tiny morsels
add diced tau kwa, mushrooms and chilli and stir to incorporate evenly
add dark soya sauce
add water until it barely covers the ingredients
continually mix and stir the ingredients while allowing the water to evaporate. Adjust the consistency to your liking.
give the ingredients a quick taste and adjust accordingly with salt and sugar
when the sauce reaches the right consistency, turn off the flame and add a dash of sesame seed oil while giving the ingredients a final quick toss
to a pot of boiling water, add a handful of wheat noodles and cook until soft
drain over sieve and plunge noodles into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process
strain to dry and place in a large serving bowl.
top with minced pork and tau kwa sauce as well as juilenned cucumber strips
Shall try with using red miso another time in place of the sweet bean paste. probably have to add more sugar but i’m pretty sure the flavours would be quite robust!
The recipe makes for 4 and even if I had second helpings, it would still be an overkill! So what could one do with the remaining sauce? Add more water, a tbsp more spicy bean paste and more ingredients if necessary. Add a block of silken tofu cubed into 12 pieces, give it a slow simmer or 5 mins and there you have it, instant 麻婆豆腐 Mapo Tofu which my family had for dinner!