Noodles are life. Whenever I’m down, noodles are there for me. It could be an unassuming cup of instant ramen, or maybe a big bowl of spaghetti Bolognese – I’m not picky, just give me noodles and suddenly the future seems just a tiny bit brighter.
As I was writing this post, Mike and I had the following conversation:
Me: I don’t know what to write about noodles. I love noodles. Noodles are my friends. I want to hug noodles and put them in my mouth.
Mike: I don’t think I want you to have any friends.
That is all. Enjoy these meat sauce noodles. They taste basically like a slightly Asian spaghetti Bolognese except that it’s super simple and fast to make, unlike the classic Italian version. The best thing about it is that once you buy the bean pastes that are essential to the recipe, you can keep them in your fridge and make batches and batches of meat sauce. And yes, you will want to make batches and batches. Because meat sauce is your friend.
Zha Jian Mein Sauce Recipe
makes enough sauce for 6-8 servings of noodles
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/4 cup sweet bean sauce*
- 2 tablespoons ground bean paste*
- 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- noodles of choice
- freshly ground pepper
- julienned cucumbers and green onions, to garnish
This is a pretty salty sauce, due to the ground bean paste, so if you taste it on its own, it will be a salt bomb. Feel free to adjust to taste, but know that it’s extra salty because it’s not meant to be eaten on its own – you definitely need to mix it into noodles, preferably ones that haven’t been cooked in salted water. Also, like most Asian noodle recipes, the sauce is secondary to the noodles – I like a 4:1 noodle to sauce ratio, so sauce sparingly. Also, feel free to adjust the bean sauces and soy sauce to taste, this is homestyle cooking after all!
In a pot, heat up the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, but not browned, about 1 minute. Add in the meat and cook, breaking into pieces, until cooked through. Add in both bean sauces, the soy sauce and water. Simmer until slightly thick, about 10 minutes. Season with pepper.
While the meat sauce is simmering, cook and drain your noodles of choice according to the package. Top with a generous helping of meat sauce. Toss throughly before enjoying!
Notes: I love this meat sauce with all sorts of noodles. Traditionally zha jian mein is served with thick wheat noodles (look in the fridge section of your local Asian grocery store), but the sauce tastes fantastic with spaghetti and I’ve been known to mix it up with rice noodles as well. Go wild, it’s a tasty savory meat sauce that pairs well with virtually any noodle.
On bean pastes: you can find these at the Asian grocery store, usually in the same aisle as all of the other sauces. If you can’t find the sweet bean sauce, hoisin sauce will work in a pinch, but I feel like the sweet bean sauce really adds that extra oomph. If you need pictures, here are some google images for ground bean sauce and sweet bean sauce.