Tomato Zha Jiang Noodle

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Zhajiang noodle served with cucumber strips
Serving Size: 
6
Preparation Time: 
30-40 minutes
Ingredients: 
  1. Chicken breast or ground chicken                                       1 1/2 breasts or 1/2 lb ground chicken
  2. Sweet bean paste (Tianmianjiang)                                      6 Tbsp
  3. Non-spicy soy bean paste (Doubanjiang)                          3 Tbsp
  4. Minced ginger                                                                           2 Tbsp
  5. Dry Bean Curd                                                                          4 pieces
  6. Medium tomatoes                                                                    6            
  7. Pickled mustard tuber (Zha Cai) strips                               1 pack (optional)
  8. Canola oil                                                                                  4 Tbsp
  9. Salt                                                                                              1-2 tsp (optional)    
  10. Medium scallion                                                                       3-4 
  11. English or Persian  cucumber                                               1 English or 3 Persian
  12. Shanghai wide Yangchun noodle                                         1  2-lb pack
Procedure: 

 I love Zhajiang noodle and especially miss the Zhajiang noodle of one road-side eatery in Taipei on the same street as our department in college, where the noodle served is called "Fool's Noodle". As a freshman, we would ask why called "Fool's Noodle"? Some guessed because they were so foolish as to give you lots of noodle. After going there a few times, we knew that it's exactly the opposite. People were foolish to go there since the eatery gave you so little noodle. But honestly, their Zhajiang noodle was unforgettable!

Grew up in Taiwan and came to study then live in US in adulthood, I'd never dream of making Zhajiang myself if it were not for my mother-in-law from Shanxi Provence (renowned for wide varieties of noodle dishes) in northern China who lived with us for many years after the kids were born. This particular recipe of Zhajiang which uses a lot of tomatoes and adda the pickled mustard tuber strips is one my mother-in-law specialized. Though not quite the same as the Fool's Zhajiang Noodle, it's as good. It's also a good chance to get all the nutrition provided by the cooked tomatoes. We all love it and have been eating Zhajiang noodle once a week for years now. In fact, before my parents-in-law moved back to China due to health reason, they used to make the home-made hand-pulled noodle on Zhajiang noodle night.  The pleasing texture and taste of the freshly made hand-pulled noodle are not what my words are capable of describing! We only knew how lucky we were to be able to eat that handmade noodle regularly after we no longer have it. Nevertheless, my kids still get excited on the Zhajiang noodle night. Now they like to eat the wide type of Yangchun noodle with Zhajiang. They love all kinds of noodle dishes. They call themselves the "noodle folks", just like Kongfu Panda.

 

  1. Wash and cut tomatoes into dices.
  2. Chop chicken breast into ground chicken or you can buy ground chicken. I usually just chop chicken breast to make sure that it does not contain a lot of fat. Chopping chicken breast is super easy.
  3. Rinse dry bean curd with water and then cut into dices. We like the Imperial Tastes brand dry bean curd (see picture). Chunghua Doufu brand is also pretty good.
  4. Cut cucumber into strips. We use the crispy variety of cucumbers, so English cucumber or Persian cucumber will do. This is for garnishing or as a vegetable side dish to mix in the zhajiang noodle.
  5. Heat wok over medium heat for 1 minute. Add canola oil to wok.
  6. Wait for 10-15 sec for oil to be heated. Put sweet bean paste and non-spicy soy bean paste into oil and use spatula to stir and fry the bean pastes for 10 sec. This step is call "frying sauce" or "Zhajiang".
  7. Add ginger and ground chicken into fried bean pastes and continue to stir fry until chicken turns dark brown by the bean pastes and cooked, about 1 minute.
  8. Add dry bean curd dices into the sauce mixture in the wok. Continue stirring until dry bean curd dices also coated with the dark brown bean pastes, about another 1 minute.
  9. Add pickled mustard tube strips and pour in all the tomato dices. Turn heat to high. Stir to mix all ingredients. The tomato dices will produce all the liquid needed for the sauce, so water is not needed. After some liquid has come out of tomatoes and is boiling, turn heat to low and cover to let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until tomato dices are cooked to soft and blended with the sauce. Stir from time to time. If you want a thicker sauce, leave the wok uncovered and turn the heat up to thicken the sauce.
  10. Add the extra salt if needed. Stir.
  11. Boil water for noodle.
  12. When sauce is ready, serve in a bowl. Put the chopped scallion on top of the sauce and stir to mix scallion with sauce if you like.
  13. We eat the wide Shanghai Yangchun noodle with Zhajiang (see picture below). Cook noodle following the instruction.
  14. Serve the cooked and drained noodle for each individual in medium large bowls for adding sauce and mixing with cucumber strips.
  15. As soon as noodle is cooked, you should eat pretty soon or the noodle will stick together.
  16. Bon Appetit!

 

Sweet bean paste (tianmianjiang) and non-spicy soy bean paste (doubanjiang)
Sweet bean paste (tianmianjiang) and non-spicy soy bean paste (doubanjiang)
Two different flavors of pickled mustard tuber strips, spicy and sesame oil flavors
Two different flavors of pickled mustard tuber strips, spicy and sesame oil flavors
Imperial Taste brand dry bean curd
Imperial Taste brand dry bean curd
Put tomato dices and pickled mustard tuber strips last into the pot
Put tomato dices and pickled mustard tuber strips last into the pot
Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir from time to time.
Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir from time to time.
Zha Jiang is ready to serve. Looks just like the Asian version of spaghetti sauce.
Zha Jiang is ready to serve. Looks just like the Asian version of spaghetti sauce.
Chopped scallion
Chopped scallion
English cucumber
English cucumber
Persian cucumber
Persian cucumber
Cucumber strips
Cucumber strips
Zhajiang topped with chopped scallion
Zhajiang topped with chopped scallion
Shanghai wide Yangchun noodle
Shanghai wide Yangchun noodle
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