Zha Jiang Mian (炸酱面): Beijing’s signature noodles

Pork cubes cooked in a salty, fragrant sauce, then served with noodles and various vegetables, Zha Jiang Mian is a signature Beijing dish full of flavour and freshness.

Pork cubes cooked in a salty, fragrant sauce, then served with noodles and various vegetables, Zha Jiang Mian is a signature Beijing dish full of flavour and freshness.

Before coming to Europe, I worked in Beijing for quite a few years and I consider it as my second home. In this vibrant city, you have the opportunity  to explore amazing food from every corner of China (and increasingly more international cuisines too). However, traditional Beijing cuisine is always treasured by locals and migrants alike . Apart from the famous Peking duck, I love its signature noodle dish Zha Jiang Mian (炸酱面) and often wandered around the back streets to look for humble little cafes which offer the most authentic versions of this dish.

The literal meaning of Zha Jiang Mian is fried sauce noodles. Popular in Northern regions of China, this dish consists of three components: pork fried then simmered in a dark, thick and salty sauce, freshly cooked noodles and various types of vegetable. Among all the different versions of Zha Jiang Mian, I prefer the Beijing style in which yellow soybean paste is used as the main seasoning (sweet bean sauce, hoisin sauce or broad bean sauce are used in other versions).

Pork cubes cooked in a salty, fragrant sauce, then served with noodles and various vegetables, Zha Jiang Mian is a signature Beijing dish full of flavour and freshness.

Yellow soybean paste (黄豆酱) is a dark, thick paste made of fermented yellow soybeans, wheat, salt and water. Pungent, aromatic and salty, it’s the soul of Beijing Zha Jiang Mian. Yellow soybean paste comes in two forms: regular or dry. The latter contains less water, thus it has a pretty solid texture. I use dry paste (干黄酱) in my recipe. Adjust the volume if you wish to use the regular one (about 1.5 times of dry paste diluted with the same amount of water). Yellow soybean paste is available in most Chinese / Asian grocery shops. I usually buy dry paste made by a reputable Beijing brand called “Wang Zhi He (王致和)”. In my recipe, a small amount of sweet bean sauce (or hoisin sauce) is added for a hint of sweetness.

Pork cubes cooked in a salty, fragrant sauce, then served with noodles and various vegetables, Zha Jiang Mian is a signature Beijing dish full of flavour and freshness.

Diced pork is used in classic Beijing Zha Jiang Mian (pork belly or other part that contains some fat). Its small size allows you to cook it in a short period of time, yet it still gives you a nice bite. I’ve seen many recipes call for minced pork. It wouldn’t be my first choice. But it does save me time when I’m in a hurry (no chopping).

Knowing the principle of this dish, you are free to be creative with the ingredients. Why not try beef, lamb or chicken if you don’t fancy pork? And making Zha Jiang Mian a vegetarian dish is possible too. Tofu (firm ones) and shiitake mushroom would be great options.

Pork cubes cooked in a salty, fragrant sauce, then served with noodles and various vegetables, Zha Jiang Mian is a signature Beijing dish full of flavour and freshness.

Vegetables play an important role in Zha Jiang Mian. They are served either raw or quickly blanched, preserving the most of the nutrition. Without any additional seasoning, the natural plain taste of vegetables go very well with the salty, aromatic sauce, giving this dish a good balance. There are a wide  range of vegetables that you can choose as topping: cucumber, beansprouts, radish, fresh green soybeans (aka edamame), Chinese cabbage, carrot, celery or any other vegetables with a crunchy texture.

Traditionally, Beijing cooks use homemade noodles in Zha Jiang Mian. Firm dough (made of plain flour, water and a pinch of salt) is rolled flat with a rolling pin, then cut into long, thick noodles. A pasta maker will be handy to achieve a similar result.  I usually make hand-pulled noodles (as shown in photos) for this dish which also has a thick look and a slightly chewy texture. Shop-bought dried noodles are fine too. They are time-saving and stress-free.

Pork cubes cooked in a salty, fragrant sauce, then served with noodles and various vegetables, Zha Jiang Mian is a signature Beijing dish full of flavour and freshness.

Pork cubes cooked in a salty, fragrant sauce, then served with noodles and various vegetables, Zha Jiang Mian is a signature Beijing dish full of flavour and freshness.

Zha Jiang Mian: Beijing’s signature noodles (炸酱面)
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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4 persons

Zha Jiang Mian: Beijing’s signature noodles (炸酱面)

Pork cubes cooked in a salty, fragrant sauce, then served with noodles and various vegetables, Zha Jiang Mian is a signature Beijing dish full of flavour and freshness.

Ingredients

    For the sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons dry yellow soybean paste
  • 1 tablespoon sweet bean sauce (or hoisin sauce)
  • 300ml (1 1/4 cup) water
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 stalks spring onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 200g (7oz) pork, diced (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • For the vegetables
  • 150g / 5oz beansprouts
  • 150g / 5oz fresh green soybeans (aka edamame)
  • 1 large cucumber (about 400g/14oz), julienned
  • 6 radish, sliced
  • For the noodles
  • 4 portions fresh or dried noodles (see note 2)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, dilute dry yellow soybean paste and sweet bean sauce (or hoisin sauce) with water. Set aside.
  2. Heat up oil in a wok (or a frying pan) over a medium high heat. Add star anise, spring onion (the green part) and ginger. Leave to sizzle until fragrant. Stir in pork and rice wine. Cook until the pork becomes pale.
  3. Pour in the diluted sauce. Bring it to a boil then leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Then boil on a full heat to thicken the sauce to the desired consistency. Stir in the white part of the spring onion.
  5. Blanch beansprouts and green soybeans in boiling water (cucumber and radish are served raw). Take them out then drain. In the same pot, cook noodles. Drain and rinse under cold water for a few seconds.
  6. Place noodles in four serving bowls, stir in the sauce then top with vegetables.

Notes

1. For better taste, use the cut of pork that contains some fat. You may use minced pork as a substitute if you wish. It’s also possible to use beef, lamb, chicken, tofu or shiitake mushroom as the main ingredient.

2. I usually use hand pulled fresh noodles for this recipe. Dried noodles are good too (even Spaghetti works well). I cook about 100g / 3.5 oz dried noodles for each person.

3. Please feel free to choose other vegetables as topping. Chinese cabbage, carrot, celery are great too.

https://redhousespice.com/zha-jiang-mian/

If you have a chance to visit Beijing, don’t forget to have a bowl of Zha Jiang Mian in an old Beijing (老北京) style restaurant. Meanwhile, give my recipe a try and enjoy the taste of Beijing in your own home!

Discover other classic Chinese noodle dishes by clicking the links below.

Happy cooking!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

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Pork cubes cooked in a salty, fragrant sauce, then served with noodles and various vegetables, Zha Jiang Mian is a signature Beijing dish full of flavour and freshness.

4 thoughts

  1. Wei, This look so good… Another great post! One of my kiddos loves to put hoisin sauce on everything, so he would like this recipe!! 🙂

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