Not only is zhajiangmian served in China, but it is also widely eaten in Japan. In Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture, the noodle is popularly known as "jajamen" and is one of the three most popular noodles in the city, along with "Morioka cold noodles" and "wanko soba." The origin of "jajamen" is the Chinese "zhajiangmian."

It is said to have originated in Shandong Province, where Qingdao City, famous for its Qingdao beer, is located. It has been popular as a home-style dish in Beijing, Tianjin, North China, Xi'an, Luoyang, and Sichuan provinces. Meat paste made by stir-frying shredded pork or minced meat with soybean paste and scallions in oil is placed on boiled noodles and mixed with vegetables.

This time, we made Beijing-style zhajiangmian, using red miso and bean sprouts as the base, which are easy to find in supermarkets. We were surprised to find out that more oil is used than we expected, but the oil is essential to thicken the meat miso so that it can be mixed with the noodles and vegetables.

According to the advice of a staff member from Xi'an who used to zhajiangmian at home, the trick is to use plenty of oil. The slow cooking over low heat brings out the flavor of the meat, making it a very tasty meat paste that can be served over steamed vegetables in addition to zhajiangmian.

It can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week, so if you make a lot of it and keep it in stock, it will come in handy for a quick lunchtime meal.

[Ingredients (3 to 4 servings)]
< meat miso >
3 tbsp of red miso
2 tbsp of bean paste
5 tbsp of sake or water
About 3 ladlefuls of oil enough to soak all ingredients
250g of pork (minced or chopped)
Shiitake mushrooms or bamboo shoots, chopped to your liking
1 white part of spring onion
1 to 3 juniper cubes
1 large piece of ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons soy sauce

< Noodles >
We used kishimen noodles this time

< Garnish >
Japanese parsley, cut into bite-sized pieces
Cucumber, cut into small pieces
Carrot, cut into thin strips
Boiled bean sprouts
Green onion, cut into small pieces
Red cabbage (we used myoga this time), finely sliced 
Thinly sliced deep-fried fish paste

[How to make]
Dissolve red miso and soybean flour in sake or water, stirring a little at a time, until thick.

Heat a pot, add about 3 ladlefuls of oil, add pork, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, octopus, and ginger to taste, and stir-fry.

When the meat is browned, fry it slowly over low heat until the oil from the meat is released.

Mix in 2/3 of the white onions first, then add 1/3 of the prepared paste (red miso and bean paste dissolved in sake). Stir constantly over low heat, adding the remaining sauce in two additions every 10 minutes.

*Remove and mix the remaining paste in the bowl with hot water before adding it to the pot. Adding water will lower the temperature of the spicy sauce in the pot and cause the taste to change.

When adding the last of the soy sauce, adjust the flavor with soy sauce and add the remaining 1/3 of the white onion. Use more oil, so that the meat is covered by the end.

Prepare the vegetables for serving. Cut into bite-sized pieces for easy tossing with the noodles and miso.

Boil the noodles and then wash them lightly with water.

Place the noodles in a bowl, arrange the vegetables, and finally pour the meat miso over the noodles.

Ichiyougama's Deep Plate
Seiryugama's Bowl