Sunday, June 20, 2010

International Incident Party - Noodles

Penny's International Incident Parties are so fun.  They're sort of culinary word-association tests - say "dumplings" or "noodles", and see the cavalcade of different associations passionate cooks tease from them.  For our last party, I was wanton with wontons.  Now, let's canoodle with noodles!

You know those lists that start, "You know you're a... when..."?  Like, "You know you're obsessed with food when you have cookbooks on your bedside table."  Or, "You know you're a blogger when you begin to regale a friend or family member with a great story, and they interrupt you to say, 'I know.  I read it on your blog.'"  Well, I want to start one with, "You know you're a mum when you can make a killer bolognese sauce."  Here in Australia, when you just can't face another uneaten dinner, pasta with bolognese sauce is every mum's little helper.  Stacked in tidy bricks in my freezer, it conceals a myriad of grated vegetables, and still elicits shrieks of joy when it appears on the table atop pasta and covered in cheese.

Sometimes it does get boring, though, and you need to mix things up.  At this party, I want to share with you our other family favourite - "Grandpa's special noodles," also known in our family as Chinese spaghetti bolognese.  This is based on a traditional recipe from Northern China of wheat noodles topped with pork mince in a sweet brown bean sauce.  Julienned or grated cucumber is added at the last minute, to make a dish that is true comfort food.

Zha Jiang Mian (Grandpa's special noodles)

Serves 3-4 people
Note: Australian tablespoons are 20 mL, not 15 as they are in the US.  Please adjust accordingly!

400g dried wheat noodles, or equivalent of fresh, e.g. lo mein or hokkien
2-3 small Lebanese cucumbers
2 Tb vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 green onions, chopped
500g pork mince

4 Tb brown bean sauce
2 Tb hoisin sauce
2 Tb Shao Hsing rice wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 Tb hot water

Mix sauce ingredients (except cornflour) together and set aside.  If using dried noodles, cook in boiling water, drain, and set aside.  Grate or julienne cucumber. 

Heat a wok over high heat until smoking.  Add the oil, drizzling it down the sides.  Add garlic and spring onion and stir-fry for 20 seconds.  Add pork mince and stir-fry, constantly stirring to break it up.  Cook for around 10 minutes until done.  Add combined sauce ingredients (except cornflour).  Cook over high heat for 7 minutes.  Add cornflour and hot water mixture; bring to the boil, allowing it to thicken.  Cook for a few more minutes and serve atop cooked noodles, topped with cucumber.

I hope you enjoy one of our family favourites.  Make sure you check out all the other oodles of noodles below!
Thanks to Kate from Mommy Monologues for the "You know you're a blogger when..." line.  They all made me laugh!


  1. Very impressive wok you have there! So well used. Thanks for coming to the party. Double yumminess!

  2. How fun! I made this last night! Totally agree with you - this is comfort food

  3. Zha Jiang Mien is incredibly awesome to eat. I love love love it. Tho I've never tried making it myself, so I'm pretty sure I've gotta change this now - esp with your recipe on hand!

  4. can you tell me what brown bean sauce is? is it like hoisin? i've seen it in other recipes and don't know of a substitute.

  5. Hi penny - thank you! I am very proud of my wok. :) My mother told me a story, though, of how when a friend of hers had her mother-in-law come to stay, mum's friend returned from an outing to find her wok scoured back to its original shining steel by the disapproving MIL, who thought its beautiful patina from years of use was awful, black dirt!

    Hi Anh - great minds think alike! Isn't it just total comfort food. That and the (Sichuan? I think?) pork mince with green beans on white rice.

    Hi Tamar1973 - thank you!

    Hi Celeste - it is SO easy. Do try it. :)

    Hi nadia - I believe is made from fermented, whole yellow soybeans. The brand I use is Pun Chun, and the ingredients are soy beans, sugar, water, sesame oil, wheat flour, and salt. As a substitute, try making a paste with miso, a little sugar, a little soy, sesame oil, and water perhaps?

  6. Zha Jiang Mian is our family's favourite one. The sauce is awesome and tasty.

  7. Love these noodles - that sauce looks amazingly scrummy and anything with pork and green onions is a winner in my book!

  8. I would have a bowl right now...for breakfast!

  9. Thanks for sharing your family dish - it's awesome!

  10. Great job! Thanks for sharing.

  11. These noodles look yummy, I love your sauce, it's awesome!

  12. Those noodles look great! I'm gonna try this recipe out soon! Thanks :)

  13. truly the best comfort food... you have to watch the salt content. I use Scholar enterprises. Six fortune Soy Bean paste with Chili... Green white and red jar(Hot) Massel chicken stock cube (low Salt) although now chicken stock in tins at the asian mart. but better if make your own and freeze into small containers

  14. thank you for sharing the recipe to your grandpa's special noodles. looks so delicious

  15. Thanks all!!!

    BTW - "mike" is Grandpa, i.e. the Grandpa of the noodles!

  16. This dish that goes by many names needs another one - Plateful of Deliciousness!

  17. Where I live, the brown bean sauce is called red bean paste (assuming it's the same from the jar). It's also used to make Mongolian dishes, great with hoi sin.


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