Zha Jiang Mian | 炸酱面 | Chinese Fried Sauce Noodles

Zha Jiang Mian, or Fried Sauce Noodles, is a classic Chinese comfort food made from a luscious dark soybean sauce and ground pork, served over a bowl of thick wheat noodles. This recipe pumps up the meat and veggies per bowl to make a complete main dish serving.

So you know those tubs of black bean paste or sauce you see in Asian grocery stores? Well drop that can and walk away from the bean aisle in your regular supermarket if in a pinch because these are not black turtle beans at all! Nope and hopefully I am not the only one that feel a bit dumb right now. Turns out the main ingredient of these pastes/sauces is fermented black soybeans (douchi in Chinese). They are the base of many Chinese dishes with their sharp, salty and pungent flavors. Black bean sauce is truly the backbone of the Zha Jiang Mian dish.

Zha Jiang Mian Chinese Fried Sauce Noodles

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Curious about Spätzlesalat (Cold Spätzle Salad)?

Want to surprise guests with a new kind of cold salad? Then try this Spätzle Salad, a special egg noodle, served with fresh veggies, bacon, cheese and a light dressing.

My new food obsession is spätzle (or spaetzel)! I consumed large amounts of it during my summer vacation in Austria and Hungary. What are they? Well they are like a cross between dumplings and soft egg noodles. You will find them in almost every plate served to you in Central European countries. Spätzle means “little sparrow”. Almost all countries have the same spelling, yet in Hungary they are usually called nokedli. After reading this post you will be able to prepare your own delicious cold spätzle salad which will be a hit at your next pot-luck party.

And finally, a bonus at the end of the post with a few pics from my summer vacation! 🙂

Spätzlesalat Cold Spätzle Salad mit basil
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Blue Dragon

I was so looking forward to attending the Blue Dragon product launch but I had to cancel as I was sick. I asked if I could still get samples to try out, which they were happy to do. But imagine my surprise when I opened my apartment door in the morning to go to work, 2 days later, and this package is just lying there on my door step.I got home at 10pm the night before and I was now heading out at 8 am…when was this delivered?

I could not resit opening this suitcase box before heading out. It was the samples…I have to say I was very impressed. And opening the box was such a delight: 10 different samples of stir fry and cooking sauces. The Blue Dragon line does not end there: they also offer dipping sauces, noodles, wrappers, sesame oil, hoison and oyster sauce, fish sauce, and 2 types of coconut milk.

Blue Dragon is named after the Chinese symbol of good fortune. The company was created over thirty years ago when the founder realized there was hardly anything available in the shops that would help people create authentic Asian dishes at home at that time. Today Blue Dragon has become a great way to help you create delicious dishes from China, Thailand, Japan (UK site) and Vietnam. To bad not all the products are available in Canada, I guess I’ll have to go to there and look up cheap car hire from the uk to go shopping in London.

In the package I found the following flavors: Thai Red Curry Paste, Thai Green Curry Paste, Chinese Curry Cooking Sauce, Tomato & Sweet Chilli Cooking Sauce, Chow Mein Cooking Sauce, Sweet & Sour Cooking Sauce, Sweet & Sour Stir Fry Sauce, Wasabi Plum Stir Fry Sauce, Chilli Coconut Stir Fry Sauce, and Szechuan Pepper Stir Fry Sauce.

Obviously I have not gotten around to trying them all, I actually cooked 2 two meals so far only. I live alone and every sample gave me about 3 meals. All the sauces/stir fries mention they should be used within 3 to 5 days so opening everything to stick my finger in it was not option. Why a short self life you ask? Reading the ingredient’s lists of the Blue Dragon products is a pleasure because there are no preservatives at all! Just beautiful flavor packed spices, herbs, and sauces.

I really did love the ease of preparation for a full meal. All you have to do is cook your protein and/or veggies, add the sauce and cook a bit longer and then serve on a bed of rice or noodles. It’s a great way to use up all those veggies lying around in your fridge.

The stir fries suggest 350 gr of meat, chicken or seafood and 1 cups of veggies. I added more like 2-3 cups of veggies and I used chicken. The first one I wanted to try was the Chilli Coconut Stir Fry Sauce. I fell in love with it: so yummy, loved the coconut taste  and nice spiciness to it. I served it on a bed of Udon noodles. This one I will buy again and again.

Take a look at the ingredient’s list: Water, Coconut Milk (Coconut, Water), Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Lemongrass, Green Birdseye Chillies, Modified Maize Starch, Fish Sauce (Anchovy Extract, Salt, Sugar), Garlic Purée, Thai Basil, Ginger Purée, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Chilli Flakes, Galangal, Coriander, Lactic Acid, Lime Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid.

The cooking sauces ask for 3 meat, chicken, seafood portions. For this one I used a block of tofu and again 2-3 cups of veggies. I tried the Chinese Curry Cooking Sauce for this dish and I served the curry on a bed of Bamboo infused rice.

Ingredients listed are: Oil, Modified Maize Starch, Garlic Purée, Curry Powder (Coriander, Turmeric, Cumin, Salt, Garlic, Fenugreek, Chilli, Ginger, Fennel, Rice Flour), Onion Powder, Light Soy Sauce (contains Wheat and Soya), Chinese Five Spice, Spices, Salt, Citric Acid.

 

This one was a bit of disappointment unfortunately. The final taste was not packed with flavors and the only thing really coming though was the light spiciness. I also felt it needed salt…and I am not a salt kind a gal. Hopefully the other sauces pack a bit more punch, we shall see as I cook through them.

I feel like the theme in my kitchen will be Asian for a while. Normally I enjoy making my on sauce mixes and adding the amount of spices I like best but for someone with less experience or if you want a nice meal in a short amount of time I think Blue Dragon is definitely worth a try. Next I will try one of the Thai pastes for sure. The company seems to distribute out of the UK first, most of Europe and Canada. If you buy some let me know what you think.

The products were sent to me free of charge but my opinions are my own and are honest.

Incidental Cream Cheese Noodles

Welcome to the third International Incident Party! This month the theme is NOODLES.

International

I decided this month to go completely off the beaten track. I wanted my dish to be exclusively about the noodles and nothing else. Today we will be taking a look at food chemistry, or more precisely molecular gastronomy, and even more specifically a hydrocolloid recipe.

What does hydrocolloid mean? A hydrocolloid is defined as a type of mixture in which one substance is dispersed evenly throughout another by means of  water. Examples of hydrocolloids agar-agar, carrageenan, gelatin and pectin. Yes your Jell-O dessert is a hydrocolloid. Hydrocolloids are employed in food mainly to influence texture or viscosity, usually to gel or thicken.

Now get out our Methyl Cellulose out and let’s play because this is the hydrocolloid we will use for the recipe. Methyl Cellulose is a thickener and emulsifier  that forms a viscous solution or gel. Now here is the really weird and cool part: Methyl Cellulose sets when hot and melts when cold. Bet you did not expect a chemistry class in a food post now did you!

So back to noodle making. We will take a non-solid substance, in this case cream cheese, and mix it with Methyl Cellulose in a water solution to gelify it in the shape of a noodle. How cool is that! On to the recipe….

Cream Cheese Noodles

370 ml cream cheese
160 ml water
1.3 grams Methyl Cellulose

  1. In a saucepan heat water to 85 C and vigorously whisk in the Methyl Cellulose.
  2. Add to room temperature cream cheese and stir well to combine.
  3. Place bowl atop an ice bowl (lots of ice and cold water) and whisk until cream cheese mixture is at 10 C
  4. Store for 2 hours in refrigerator.
  5. Transfer to a squeeze bottle or the like.
  6. Bring to a boil 2 liters of water and let simmer.
  7. Pipe in cream cheese  to make noodles.
  8. Drain as soon as the noodles have become firm, about 30 seconds.

And……it did not work 🙁 Oh well I guess my first attempt at real molecular gastronomy failed. They keep their shape until you touch them though. And since I have been so busy and I literally finished my first try 30 min before the time this will have to do for the posting. Will definitely try again though!

Out comes a new pan to cook some with plain old regular pasta….served with cream cheese on it lol.

Here is the list of the party goers!

And also remember to stay tune for next IIP in July!