HERE'S an authentic recipe for you. It was handed down from my Shandong grandmother who grew up in Beijing. She was a wonderful cook who taught my mother everything she knows about Chinese food, and I learned from both of them.
For these fresh thick noodles, you can find them freshly spun daily at Jiashan Market (328 Jianguo Rd, near Taiyuan Rd) If you're looking at two noodle stalls, it's the one on the right. Pick the thickest noodles on display. They have the toothsomeness you'll want for this dish.
(Note: The package reads "Hoisin Sauce," but it's not. It's sweet bean paste. Sweet bean paste is a condiment used in northern China with dishes such as Peking duck, pancakes and noodle dishes. Hoisin is Cantonese for seafood and hoisin sauce is usually flavored with garlic, chilies and other ingredients. Both are made of soybeans, sweet and black in color, but have slightly different flavors.)
1 piece 2" ginger, minced
1 bunch scallions, minced
2 red chilies, minced
2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons of rock sugar
2 tablespoons of rice wine
2 cups of water
1 bunch hand spun thick noodles (Northern style)
1. Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add canola oil, ginger, scallions, chilies and sauté until fragrant.
2. Add the ground pork, stir fry until cooked through. Deglaze with rice wine then add the soybean paste and sweet bean paste. Turn the heat down to a simmer and stir to combine. Make sure the sauce is fry boiling with simmering bubbles. Zha jiang in Chinese literally means to fry the sauce. Frying the sauce brings out the flavor of the bean paste and spices, in about 15 minutes. It looks like a lot of oil, but you need it to "fry" the sauce. Stir occasionally and cover.
3. Add the tomatoes, rock sugar and water. Simmer until tomatoes are completely dissipated.
4. Boil noodles until al dente, strain and place in a large bowl. On hot days I immerse the noodles in an ice bath then strain. In the same boiling water, add a pinch of salt and flash boil the pea shoots or bean sprouts, about five seconds. Strain the vegetables.
5. Top the fresh cooked noodles with the zha jiang sauce, pea shoots, julienne carrots, cucumbers and scallions. Mix and serve immediately.