Best Zhajiangmian (Fried Sauce Noodles)

A non-traditional, home-style version of the classic Chinese dish called Zhajiangmian ("fried sauce noodles") that boasts a unique, aromatic meat sauce. Zhajiangmian has evolved over centuries to become a beloved staple and comfort food consisting of chewy, thick noodles layered beneath a savory sauce.

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes – Cooking Time: 30 minutes/batch – Total Time: 35 minutes

Helpful equipment

  • Dutch oven or pot


  • 8 oz. ground meat
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. peppercorn powder
  • 1/4 tsp five spice powder
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp. black bean garlic sauce
  • 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • ½ cup diced vegetable mix
  • 2 squares (6 oz.) five spiced pressed tofu, chopped into 1/4" cubes
  • 1.25-1.75 cups water
  • cornstarch slurry: 1-1.5 tbsp. cornstarch + 1-1.5 tbsp. water


Step 1
Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add green onions and minced garlic, and fry until fragrant and sizzling. Incorporate minced pork, breaking it apart as it cooks. 

Step 2
Season the mixture with peppercorn powder, five spice powder, and sugar. Add five spiced pressed tofu. Toss well to ensure the flavors meld with the meat.

Step 3
Pour 1/2 cup of water into the pot, then add soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Monitor the liquid level, adding more water if needed to prevent drying out. Stir occasionally. 
Step 4
Stir in black bean garlic sauce, oyster sauce, and hoisin sauce. Pour in the remaining water to make the sauce (add more water for more sauce). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer another 10-15 minutes until meat is tender. 

Step 5
Drop in diced mixed vegetables to the pot and taste to add further seasoning, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, salt, or water.

Step 6
Prepare a cornstarch slurry to thicken the meat sauce by mixing 1 tbsp. cornstarch with 1 tbsp. water. Gradually drizzle the slurry into the pot, stirring continuously.

Step 7
Serve the zhajiangmian over noodles, zucchini/squash noodles, or rice, accompanied by a side of julienned cucumber or other toppings such as julienned carrots or spicy chili oil.


  • (Optionally) Particularly fatty ground meat can be cooked first to render out excess fat and impurities.
  • Choice of Ground Meat -- While pork is most recognizable at most restaurants, ground turkey, chicken, or beef are fine to use. 
  • Black bean garlic sauce – Our preferred brand is Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Sauce. Chinese sweet bean paste is most commonly linked with zhajiangmian and can easily step in as an alternative.

  • Diced vegetable mix – Opt for relatively firm vegetables to add texture, color, and nutrition. Frozen peas, corn and diced carrots are excellent choices. For additional variety, consider finely diced bell peppers or rehydrated and diced shiitake mushrooms as add-ins.
  • Five spiced pressed tofu – Look for tofu labeled “five spiced." These add a nice touch of flavoring, do not crumble, and retain their shape and texture when tossed.
  • Noodles to use – Choose springy, chewy noodles similar in shape to udon noodles, but sliced thinner; I prefer homemade but store-bought varieties are available.   
  • Garnishes and twists – For toppings try julienned cucumber and carrots; and for an extra kick, drizzle spicy chili oil over the dish for a Sichuan-style zhajiangmian.

Post a Comment