What, you expect me to eat this mein plain? Seriously, I am not trying to make a mockery of that self-improvement classic (naming no name). This is the real title for a hit song in China of late. So popular is it that quite a handful of people have started using the song as ring tone for their cellies. Well, quite a cool choice for a foodie's cellie, ain't it?
Leaving the ring tone aside, the most common version of za jiang mein (炸酱面), or noodles with fried (pork) sauce, usually uses ground pork as the main ingredient. Either the lean cut or the fat one will do (though most mein aficionados would confess they only use the fattier cut around the rump because the sauce tastes better in that way). However, the pork sauce is by no means the only version for za jiang mein; it has thousand faces with ingredients like dried shrimp, eggs, shredded bean curd and eggplant also used. Either way, the best sauce should be juicy but never oily even after the fry.
The version featured here is one of my mom's special in which she uses the same portion of beer to blend the bean sauce with so that the two form an emulsified sauce before the fry. This way, the sauce won't get too thick and firm after the fry. For, mind you, we still need to mix the sauce with the noodle before we eat it. Another good thing about adding beer to the bean sauce is that less oil is needed when we fry.
Vegetable oil: 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Ground pork (fatty): 1/2 to 3/4 lb
Bean sauce: 5 to 6 tsp
Sugar: 2 to 3 tsp
Beer: 5 to 6 tsp
Fresh Chinese noodles: 1 lb
Chopped scallions: 1/4 cup
Bean sprouts: 1/4 cup
Cucumber shreds: 1/4 cup
Chopped garlic: 1/6 cup
Chili: if desired
Heat the oil in the wok. When the oil is ready, add the garlic and then the pork. Fry briefly.
Blend the bean sauce with the beer.
Add the mixed sauce, sprinkle the sugar into the wok and cook, stir until the sauce is piping hot (about 10 mins).
Turn off the heat and start to boil the noodles.
Drain the noodles thoroughly and place into a bowl.
Spoon over the sauce. Garnish with the scallions, bean sprouts and cucumber shreds.
Serves: 1 Servings.
Trick of the trade:
Use fresh Chinese noodle: the variety that is white in color (with no egg added).
The truth is, sadly for anyone who's on diet, lard is a better choice than the vegetable or peanut oil for this mein.
No salt is used because the bean sauce is salty enough. If anything, people in the northern part of China love to eat it in sweeter flavor.