Tianmianjiang - Chinese sweet bean and flour sauce
(adjust as desired)
Shaoxing wine (or Japanese sake)
1 to 1.5 tablespoons
(dissolve with 2-3 tablespoons of water)
Ra-yu (if you like it spicy)
Cut the cucumbers into thin strips. Soak the shredded Japanese green onions in water and cover with plastic wrap. Place both in the refrigerator.
Roughly mince the ● marked ingredients (about 5-7 mm). Remove the green shoot-like core from the garlic before mincing finely. Measure out the other ingredients so that everything is ready to use.
Add the oil to a pan and before oil becomes too hot, add the garlic and doubanjiang. (If you are using a wok, coat the pan with oil then add about 1 tablespoon of oil with garlic and doubanjiang.) Heat the seasoning through over low to medium heat.
When garlic and douban jiang are flagrant, add the meat. Do not separate the meat right away. Wait a little bit before breaking up the meat (it tastes better that way) while cooking over low to medium heat.
When the meat is separated and almost cooked through, add the bamboo shoots (over medium to high heat).
When the bamboo shoots are coated with oil, add the tianmianjiang, minced green onions, and sake. Then, pour in the chicken soup (if you are using a wok, pour the liquid in around the edges).
Add the sugar and soy sauce. Add the shiitake mushrooms and simmer for a short while.
Season with pepper and add the katakuriko slurry. Do not add the slurry at once. Add it in 2-3 separate portions while stirring vigorously.
When the sauce is thickened and heated through, turn off the heat and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. (if you like it spicy, add 1 tablespoon of ra-yu).
Cook the noodles. This dish will taste best if you can finish cooking the noodles and the sauce at the same time. Once the noodles are cooked, rinse them under cold water to remove any excess starchiness. Drain well and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to coat the noodles.
Plate the noodles and pour on the sauce. Arrange the cucumbers and shredded Japanese leeks. (Drain and pat them dry after washing.)
Story Behind this Recipe
I really wanted to eat Zhajiangmian and worked on the recipe all summer. After a lot of experimentation, I was finally able to arrive at something I could be confident in. I use three servings of noodles to share between my husband and I, and use leftover sauce for udon noodles, somen noodles and over rice for easy lunches.
I strongly recommend fresh noodles. (I used steamed noodles since it was on sale) It's troublesome but frying shredded green onions with paper towels makes a difference. I love thickened sauces, so I use 2 tablespoons of starch and 4 tablespoons of water for the slurry. Please adjust the thickness as you like.