Affectionately referred to as “Chinese Bolognese”, the proper name for this tasty, super quick Chinese Pork Mince with Noodles is “Za Jiang Mian”. The sauce is classic Chinese flavours – savoury with a hint of sweet, and a subtle kick of chilli (or more if you like!). One bite, and you’ll be as addicted as I am!
I just had this for breakfast.
Really. It’s Wednesday morning, Sydney is “suffering” through a heatwave (35C / 95F). And while normal people are having a cold healthy smoothie or a bowl of fresh fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, I heated up a bowl of hot spicy Chinese noodles.
It’s my Japanese upbringing!! In Japan, cereal and toast are virtually unheard of for breakfast, except at hotels that cater for Western tourists. Traditional breakfasts in Japan, even in most households today (at least, my relatives), is like a mini dinner. Almost always with some form of protein – quite often fish.
This is a holiday snap of a typical breakfast that we’re served in Japan when we stay with relatives. It’s like a dinner spread! Fish, sticky rice, tempura, salad, miso soup…
(Yes, it’s a low table where we sit on the floor 🙂 )
(Yes, that’s a clear plastic cover on the table. Everybody together, say “That’s sooooo Asian!”)
I was undecided up until this very minute whether I would join my family for a trip to Japan next month. I’m definitely going! I need my Japanese food fix! (Err, yes, and of course, to spend time with my relatives) (And skiing 😉 )
Off track here – I’m not even sharing a Japanese dish today (my mother rules that domain now on her blog RecipeTin JAPAN). I was just trying to explain / justify why I was having hot spicy Chinese noodles for breakfast. During a heatwave, no less. ?
This Chinese Pork and Noodles is affectionally known as “Chinese Bolognese”. And looking at the photos, it’s clear why that is. But the flavour couldn’t be any different! Though your eyes might be seeing a spaghetti-type dish, the minute you take a bite, it’s Chinese through and through. It doesn’t look as saucy as Bolognese but the pork has more flavour which mixes through the noodles when you dig in.
There are a handful of ingredients in this Chinese Pork Mince and Noodles recipe that needs to be sourced from Asian grocery stores. Being Chilli Bean Sauce (top in photo below) and Sweet Sauce (bottom jar). Which, as the names imply, are spicy and sweet. 🙂
However, don’t despair if you can’t find these! These sauces are great because they have complex flavours so you just need these, but there are easy substitutions using ingredients you can get from supermarkets here in Australia. I made a small batch for lunch using ALL the substitutions (which I’ve never done before, usually I substitute one or two but not all!) and in all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people actually preferred the version made using the substitutions!
PS I also included these in the recipe video below so you can see the consistency better.
The Chilli Sauce served with this is a fairly essential part of the overall experience. Chinese Chilli Sauce is not just chilli, it’s got other flavourings as well. This is the brand I use – I have referred many friends to this. It was recommended to me by an Asian grocery store, and it’s the best I’ve ever had. Use it for everything and anything you want to add a chilli kick too (well, at least anything Asian!). It’s great for dipping sauces, dolloping and adding to stir fries.
But if you can’t find it or another Asian chilli sauce, don’t worry, there are a handful of substitutions in the recipe for you!
Australia! I know we’re in the height of summer….but you know what? Most of Asia is always in a heatwave. And have you ever noticed that the hotter the climate, the spicier the food?? South America, Africa, Caribbean, Creole, and of course, Asia! There’s a theory that spicy food helps us keep cool. Whether it’s because it makes you sweat which then feels cool as it evaporates (icky talk I know!) or there’s also science around it too – nerves on our tongues that identify spicy foods and cause our bodies to react by cooling down.
Regardless, I’ve never let the weather dictate what I eat. Bring on summer and spicy foods!!!! – Nagi x
PS This is how to eat it: serve it like old school Bolognese with the pork on top of the noodles. Then mix it all up. To optimise experience – because it’s really hard even for me who is more comfortable with chopsticks than with a knife and fork – use a spoon so you can get a mouthful of pork AND noodles!
- 700 - 800 g / 1.4 - 1.6 lb white noodles (flour noodles), fresh (Note 1)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil*
- 2 tsp Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar)* (Note 2)
- 1/3 cup chicken stock / broth
- 1 tbsp Chilli Bean Sauce (Note 3)
- 1 tbsp Chinese Sweet Bean Sauce (Note 4)
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce (Note 5)
- 2 tsp Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar)* (Note 2)
- 1 tsp sugar (white or brown)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 1/2 tsp ginger , minced or finely chopped
- 1/2 onion , finely chopped (white, brown or yellow)
- 400 g / 14 oz minced pork (ground pork)
- 2 cucumbers , cut into batons (deseed if you can be bothered, I don't!)
- Chinese chilli sauce (Note 6)
- Coriander / cilantro leaves
Mix Sauce ingredients together.
Prepare noodles according to packet directions. If it says to soak the noodles, you can do that while cooking the stir fry.
Optional: Just before serving, toss the noodles with oil and vinegar.*
Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute or until onion is translucent.
Add pork and cook, breaking it up as you go, until browned.
Add sauce and cook for 3 - 5 minutes, or until most of the sauce has reduced.
Divide noodles between bowls. Top with pork, coriander and fresh cucumbers on the side.
To eat, mix up the noodles and pork. I use chopsticks and a spoon - so it's easier to get the pork and noodles in one mouthful. Don't hold back on the chilli paste! It goes great with this dish!
* These ingredients are optional. They are not used in traditional Chinese Zha Jiang Mian recipes but it is used by the restaurant recipe I used (see below for reference) and I really enjoy the tiny touch of sour it brings to this dish.
1. This dish is best made with FLOUR noodles (white), not egg (yellow) or rice noodles. I find that the best noodles for this dish are the fresh white noodles from Asian grocery stores or even Udon noodles from supermarkets. I like to use noodles that are like a thick spaghetti shape, but you could definitely use flat ones.
Though this is traditionally made with flour noodles, you can definitely make it with other noodles of choice!
I know 800g / 1.6lb of noodles sounds like a lot and it is! But fresh flour noodles are very dense and heavy, about double the weight for the same volume of, for example, chow mein noodles.
2. Chinese black vinegar, Chinkiang vinegar, actually has a fairly similar flavour to balsamic vinegar. So you can substitute with balsamic.
3. Chilli Bean Sauce - see photo in post, found in Asian grocery stores. Also known as Doubanjiang, it is made from soy beans, chilli and other flavourings. It can be substituted with 2 teaspoons of Miso + 2 teaspoons of Sriracha or other spicy chilli paste.
4. Chinese Sweet Bean Sauce (see photo in post) is also made from soy beans except it is sweet rather than spicy. Hoisin is actually quite similar so if you can't find Sweet Bean Sauce at the Asian store, just use Hoisin.
5. Dark soy sauce is darker in colour than all purpose and light soy sauce and has a stronger flavour. I really urge you to find dark soy sauce for this recipe. Nowadays in Australia it's sold in the Asian section of large supermarkets.
6. See in post for photo of my favourite Chinese chilli paste, Xianglawang. Recommended to me by an Asian grocery store, it is made with more than just chilli. However, there is enough flavour in the pork that you can use almost any chilli sauce for this, even a Western hot sauce. Don't hold back! This is soooo fantastic when loaded up with chilli!
However, if you really would like to make this with an Asian chilli sauce, use the Chilli Sauce in this Foolproof Poached Chicken Breast recipe. It's a simple homemade version of Chinese chilli sauce.
7. Adapted from this recipe by a Chinese street food restaurant in Melbourne, Australia called Lawyers, Guns and Money from Gourmet Traveller.
8. Chinese Pork Mince with Noodles nutrition per serving, excluding chilli sauce but including cucumbers.
LIFE OF DOZER
He can hear me just fine. Like most males, he has selective hearing. Especially on hot days like today!