Keeping up with the Asian spaghetti theme (which was completely accidental …), this is another Cook’s Illustrated recipe that turned out to be outstanding:
Minced Pork Noodles—Zha jiang mian 炸酱面
It’s a very rich, flavorful meat sauce that you’d swear contains tomato, but it doesn’t. It’s just packed with umami ingredients like mushrooms, soy and miso. The hoisin sauce gives it a nice tanginess.
This recipe has the order of various steps corrected and fixes some of the measurements to make the recipe more practical. I also doubled it, because it’s tough to buy half a pound of ground pork. I wish more recipes were published in a form that makes them easy and practical to cook, but I digress …
Red miso paste can be found in the refrigerator section of Asian markets.
Zha Jiang Mian (Minced Pork Noodles)
Pork Mixture: 1 lb ground pork, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 tbsp water
Sauce Mixture: 1 cup water, 1/2 cup red miso paste, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup hoisin sauce, 2 tbsp molasses
Mushroom and Onion Mixture: 8 peeled garlic cloves, 1 inch peeled ginger, bottom halves of 8 scallions, 12 stemmed shiitake mushrooms
Noodles: 2 lbs lo mein noodles
Garnish: Thinly sliced scallion tops, bamboo shoots, thinly sliced carrot, cucumber, etc
- Thoroughly mix Pork Mixture
- Thoroughly mix Sauce Mixture
- Roughly chop Mushroom and Onion Mixture, and process in batches in food processor
- Put pot of water on high heat
- Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil to sauce pan, and heat Pork Mixture on medium high heat. Break up meat and cook until water is gone.
- Add Mushroom and Onion Mixture, and continue cooking while stirring constantly until it starts to brown and stick to pan. Don’t worry about browning it as there are tons of other flavor ingredients.
- Add Sauce Mixture to pan.
- Sometime around now, the water will boil. Add Noodles to water, set timer for four minutes, and turn heat down the medium.
- Let sauce reduce slightly until thickened. Drain noodles when done.
- Serve: Pour meat sauce onto noodles, garnish with Garnish.
Like most sauces, it also freezes wonderfully, so it’s great to cook ahead and reheat for lunch.