Zha Cai - Means "pressed vegetable'" is a type of pickled mustard stem originating in Sichuan, China. The stem is rubbed wih hot chili paste and allowed to ferment, similar to the process of making kimchi. Zha Cai tastes spicy, soury, and salty, with a texutre of crunchy and tender. It is used in a variety of Chinese dishes, one being this noodle soup. Rou Si Mien - Means shredded pork noodle. When you add Zha Cai and Rou Si Mian together, you get a very tasty noodle soup. With Zha Cai being the star of the dish, added ingredients such as bamboo and wood fungus ear in chicken broth makes an authentic Chinese dish that is very satisfying to taste!
Start by cutting the pork loin into strips of about 1.5 inches. I usually first slice it down lengthwise right down the middle into 2 equal parts, and then start chopping it the other way to make little strips like you see on the picture on the right. In any case, they just have to be bite size.
The ingredients for the marinade shown on the left. Add 4 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar, about 3-4 minced garlic cloves, and 1 tbs minced ginger into a bowl. Mix it real well, then add 1 tbs cornstarch to thicken it up and mix.
Put the chopped pork loin meat in the marinade and mix it all up! After all the pieces are nicely covered, saran wrap it and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Stirfry ingredients for the broth, but there are some preparations for it first. Bamboo shoots on the left already in strips, pickled mustard stems in the middle also in strips (I use 3 packets of these), and wood ear fungus on the right also in strips already.
Open up the can of bamboo strips. I like to rinse it with running tap water straight into the can, and then dumping out the water. I do this about 4 or 5 times to clean the bamboo a bit. Then for the recipe, I use about half the can or about 1 cup.
The wood ear fungus needs to be soaked first in water for at least 5 minutes to soften it up. Also if you have dried peppers, u can get that out too to make your broth a bit spicy. The bamboo, wood ear fungus, and preserved mustard root should all be about equal parts and in strips. Once the wood ear fungus softens up, you may want to use a scissor and cut them up or use a knife to chop it up to make smaller pieces. Same goes with the bamboo. Everything should be about 1.5 to 2 inches long.
Time to start the stirfry. Heat up a wok with oil on med-high on a stove. After a few minutes when the wok is nice and hot, drop in your pork loin strips and all the marinade into the wok and immediately start stirring so they all get cooked evenly. It should smell so good!
Once all the pork is adequately cooked and browned, splash some cooking wine into the wok to help blend all the flavors together.
Next is to drop in the bamboo, wood ear fungus, pickled mustard roots, and peppers if you have some. Stirfry everything for at least 5 minutes to get everything mixed together and cooked.
Should look like this once everything is nicely cooked and mixed.
At this point, I transfer the strifry into a large pot to start making the broth. If you have homemade chicken broth, add about 10-12 cups to the pot. Otherwise, you can use chicken broth from the store. I use 2 cans of Swanson chicken broth (33% less sodium), and 2 cans of water. Water helps dilute the broth a bit so it will not be too high in sodium but still remains tasty.
I think Taiwanese noodles pairs best with this broth. Find it at a Chinese supermarket. Great thing with these noodles is they come already in bunches. So to prepare, just take one bunch which is usually good for 1 person. Drop it into boiling water and boil for about 3 minutes. Drop in some veggies at the 2 minute mark, I like bok choi, and boil it along with the noodles for about 1 more minute. Strain it all and dump it all into a bowl. At this point, the bok choi is probably all entangled with the noodles. For better presentation, simply pick them out with a chopstick in the bowl and place it back on top of the cooked noodles.
Ladle the hot broth onto the noodles and bok choi and serve with chopped green onions and black pepper. Enjoy a traditional Chinese soup noodle!