* 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.