Zha Jiang Mian translates to “fried noodle sauce” meaning that you must ‘fry’ or simmer the sauce and add it to the noodles later, almost like a Chinese version of spaghetti with marinara sauce. Although this dish is typically made with minced meat, I prefer the vegetarian version of it, with minced mushrooms that soak up the delicious flavors of the ginger, garlic and spice. No mince meat can do quite as well.
The choice of whole or minced soybean sauce is up to you. If you prefer a smoother sauce, go with the minced paste but if you like a more textured sauce sauce, then the whole bean paste is for you. Serve it with some great fresh noodles (preferably made without eggs just as the Chinese make them) and a handful of grated cucumber in a deep bowl and you’ll be set.