Most American kids cannot imagine growing up without Spaghetti and Meat Sauce or Bolognese. For Chinese kids, it’s Za Jian Mein, Noodles with Pork Bean Sauce. It’s sweet and salty, with a chunky thick sauce that coats noodles so well, irresistible for kids, and a heaven sent for mom’s because it’s just too easy to make. It’s no wonder we ate this a gazillion times. We’d ask and before you know it, a piping hot bowl of noodles would be on the table.

Za Jiang Mein title pic

*above photo was added on 7/23/13

When we got older, it became that reliable snack  that we could heat ourselves. It stores well so mom would always have a large container of the sauce sitting in the fridge. We’d get home from school and just boil noodles and microwave sauce. See, just just like spaghetti and meat sauce.

I’m starting to think every kid should learn how to make Za Jiang Mein before moving out, a right of passage that guarantees years of happy eating. Quick, easy, cheap, and fool proof, even for those who have no idea how to cook. Seriously, packing a kid up for college? They should be sent away with three things, sweet bean sauce, ground bean sauce, and dried noodles.

Sweet Bean Sauce Ground Bean Sauce Oriental Dried Noodles

*Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste. Every family makes this a little differently.

Za Jiang Mein

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 (6oz) can sweet bean sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons ground bean sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • serve with noodles
  • thinly sliced cucumber (optional)
  • blanched mung bean sprouts (optional)

Instructions –

1. Heat oil in a large deep pan or wok on medium high heat. Saute scallions until lightly golden.

frying scallions

2. Add pork and break up lumps with a spatula as you stir until all has turned evenly brown and no pink is left.

adding ground pork

3. Add sweet bean sauce, water, ground bean sauce, and sugar. Stir occasionally as you let sauce cook down to desired consistency, about 5 minutes. It should be pretty thick and viscous.

saucy pork

4. Serve over noodles and garnish with cucumber and/or bean sprouts.

Za Jiang Mein 4

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can reheat on the stove top or in a microwave.

posted by jessica at 06:54 PM Filed under Chinese, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.