Zha Jiang Mian - Beijing Style Noodles with Soybean Paste

In my first trip to Beijing, I quickly determined zha jiang mian, or Beijing-style noodles with soybean paste, to be my favorite go-to dish when I needed to grab something fairly quickly as they can be found all over the city and are quite affordable and incredibly flavorful.  Most of the flavor lies in the stir-fried sauce, while the hearty noodles and fresh vegetables add various different textures.  The sauce can be made ahead and reheated gently before serving.  For the noodles, I often use lo mein noodles, as they are widely available in mainstream grocery stores.  But if you are fortunate enough to go to an Asian market, experiment away with all the different types of Asian wheat noodles!

Serves 4


1 tablespoon, vegetable oil

1 star anise

½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

4 oz. pork belly, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon grated ginger

4 spring onions, finely chopped, divided

2 whole mushrooms, stems removed and finely chopped

1 tablespoon cooking wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

12 ounces soybean paste

2 tablespoons sugar

1 pound dried noodles

1 cup finely chopped cucumbers

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup bean sprouts

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium high heat.  Add the star anise and the peppercorns and sear for about 20 seconds.  Remove the star anise and peppercorns. Add the diced pork belly and cook for about one minute before adding the garlic, half the spring onions, cooking wine and soy sauce.  Cook for another minute.

Reduce the heat to low and add the soybean paste.  Stir to blend with the pork mixture.  Cook for about five minutes, until the mixture thickens while stirring constantly to prevent the sauce from sticking to the wok.  Add sugar and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside.

Prepare the noodles according to the instructions on the package.  Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water

Place noodles in a bowl.  Spoon some sauce on top and garnish with cucumber, carrots, bean sprouts and remaining spring onions.