We sampled many noodle soup dishes during our last trip to Shanghai, but one of our favorites was the Shanghai Hot Sauce Noodles, also known as Shanghai Lajiang Mian.
As with any cuisine, there are countless iterations of “la jiang mian,” also called “doubanjiang mian.” Noodles are tossed in a broth with pork, tofu, peanuts, spicy chili bean paste, and sugar (the Shanghainese love sugar in their dishes). Hot noodles topped with spicy, savory sauce are irresistible.
This dish was originally called “hot sauce noodles,” a direct translation of the Chinese term la jiang mian. These noodles with Shanghai hot sauce are a staple in the Chinese diet, appearing at every meal of the day.
These Shanghai hot sauce noodles were lightened up for breakfast by adding more soup and a sauce made of spiced tofu and very little pork.
Other preparations of Shanghai hot sauce noodles feature a lot more relish, a more concentrated spicy sauce, and a lot of hot oil floating on top. Vegetarian potato cubes, tofu, and vegetables are depicted in the version below. Each variation, including the one presented here, shared a common flavor: lajiang.
Since I was a kid, when I first tasted babao lajiang, la jiang has held a special place in my heart (8 treasures sauce). There was nothing homemade about it; it came from a can.
If you are in a pinch today and don’t feel like cooking, this canned version is similar in flavor to the Shanghai hot sauce noodles recipe I’ve developed here and would make for an excellent quick meal.
- 8 oz. of pork shoulder(cut into ¼ inch cubes)
- 1/2 cup of raw shelled and skinned peanuts
- 1/4 cup of peanut or vegetable oil
- ¼ cup of doubanjiang (spicy chili bean sauce/paste)
- ¼ cup of diced onion
- 2 pcs. of medium size carrots (cut into ¼ inch cubes, about ¾ cup)
- 4 oz. of five spice tofu (cut into ¼ inch cubes, 3/4 cup)
- 2 tsp. of sugar
- 6 cups of chicken stock (divided)
- 12 oz. of dried noodles
- 1 pc. of scallion (chopped)
- Cube the pork, then blanch it in boiling water for 30 seconds before draining and rinsing. This ensures that the finished dish is free of meat impurities or blood.
- Peanuts should be fried in oil for 2 minutes over low heat or until they turn golden. The peanuts will release even more oil during the frying process, and the whole thing will smell delicious.
- You want to add the chili bean sauce to the peanuts and oil and stir for 30 seconds to bring out the color of the red peppers in the sauce and infuse the oil.
- Add the onions and stir-fry for 2 minutes over low heat or until the onion becomes translucent.
- Stir-fry the sugar, five-spice tofu, and carrots for three more minutes over medium heat. Then, to the pan with the blanched pork, add 1 cup of chicken stock and stir-fry until the liquid has completely evaporated (about 5 minutes). Stir-fry again with another cup of stock until all the liquid has been used. All the flavors blend in this never-ending stir-fry.
- Bring the pot to a boil and add the remaining 4 cups of stock. Simmer on low for another 30 minutes. While simmering, check the mixture every 5 minutes and stir to prevent the sauce from sticking to the wok’s sides and burning. Make sure there is a cup of liquid and lots of oil in the finished sauce.
- Cook the noodles until al dente as per the package’s instructions. Noodles with a bit of bite are ideal for soup.
- The noodles and sauce should be split between four bowls. Season with salt to taste, and then add the noodle cooking liquid. (This is the standard method, but you could use more hot chicken stock as a soup instead). If desired, top each serving with some chopped scallions and serve immediately.