This vegan Zha Jiang Mian 素炸酱面 is so flavorful with a robust flavor and a sauce that is beyond versatile. You can mix it with rice, use in stir-fries, or elevate your toasts with this delicious sauce.
Zha Jiang Mian 炸酱面 (Zhá jiàng miàn) means Fried Sauce Noodles where the sauce is ‘fried’ before tossing in the noodles. From my understanding, the sauce is technically not fried but rather mixed then cooked in oil until it looks pasty. It is normally made with 2 different types of fermented bean sauce, salty and sweet. This combination creates the most umami-packed savoriness that tastes so divine. Clarissa Wei wrote a great article about Zha Jiang Mian over at Bon Appetit.
While there are many different brands of bean sauce you can get at the store, here are some I managed to get around me. Since I was not able to find the dried version of the salty one, I subbed it with the salty bean paste. Create your own balance of sweet, salty, and savory sauce.
My Vegan Zha Jiang Mian Key Components
- Salty bean paste – as the name implies, this is the salty component of the sauce. Normally the dried ones are used but since I can’t find it at my store, I used a wet version (picture above).
- Sweet bean paste or Tianmianjiang is the sweet component and it’s usually in a fine and somewhat liquid texture.
- Spicy bean sauce – this is optional but since I love spicy food, I added it for heat.
- Fragrant oil – This oil really enhances the flavor of the bean sauces plus it adds another layer of aromas to it! It’s really good and highly recommended.
- Protein – I used firm tofu that I lightly pan-fried until golden brown with a slightly crispy outer layer. When tofu is cooked this way and added to a sauce, it will amazingly expand and absorb the sauce around it; the best way to enjoy tofu. On top of that, I used some chopped mushrooms which created a ‘meaty’ texture.
- Chopped leek – This is added in the last step for that extra sweet touch.
How to make Vegan Zha Jiang Mian
Step 1: Prepare the sauce – Cooking wine such as ShaoXing wine is usually added to break down the dried bean paste. Since I am using the wet bean paste version, the wine is added to create more flavor. If you can’t find the wine, water is a good alternative. My version has a more salty part than sweet but if you prefer to have sweet ones, adjust the portion accordingly. (Note: the spicy bean sauce is optional and falls under the salty category)
Step 2: Make the fragrant oil – In a large heated non-stick pan with oil, brown onion, and leek over low-medium heat. This step takes a little time as you don’t want to burn the ingredients. Once ready, discard, and use this oil to cook the remaining ingredients.
Step 3: Cook the protein – For the protein, I’m using tofu and added chopped baby King oyster mushrooms for the texture and flavor. Using the same oil from above, cook mashed tofu until golden brown, then add in the mushrooms and continue to sauté until fragrant.
Step 4: Put everything together: Once the tofu mixture is cooked, add in the sauce and toss everything together. Cook until the oil starts to separate from the mixture (this will only happen if you have added enough oil). Taste test and season as needed. Finally, add in the chopped leek.
Serve or store: To serve, ladle sauce over cooked noodles and pair it with fresh crunchy cucumber and carrot. This recipe makes a huge batch and good for up to 10 or 12 servings. Store the remaining sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for longer shelf life.
Check out my other Noodles recipe
This Vegan Zha Jiang Mian is
- Easily customizable
- and oh so scrumptious
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Vegan Zha Jiang Mian – 素炸酱面
- 2 tablespoons salty bean paste or yellow bean sauce/fermented sauce
- 2 tablespoons of spicy black bean paste optional, if you skip this, adjust the sweet sauce accordingly
- 4 tablespoons of sweet bean paste
- ½ cup ShaoXing wine or water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms used mini King oyster mushrooms
- 10 oz firm tofu mashed
- ½ cup oil
- 1 onion cut into 8 wedges
- 1 leek white and green part separated, chopped
- Noodles of choice
- Shredded cucumber and carrot
- To prepare the sauce, place all the bean pastes in a large mixing bowl, then mix with ShaoXing wine or water until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large non-stick pan with about ½ cup of oil, add in the chopped onion and green parts of the leek. Cook them over low-medium heat until they turn brown. Discard or save the onion for other dishes.
- Using the same pan, cook mashed tofu until golden brown while stirring continously. Then, add in the mushrooms and cook until aromatic.
- Stir in the sauce and turn heat to low. Cook while stirring constantly to prevent it from burning until the oil starts to separate from the mixture.
- Season with sugar and stir in the chopped leek (white part).
- To serve, cook noodles as directed and place them in a serving bowl.
- Ladle a tablespoon of sauce over (more depending on the servings) and serve with shredded cucumber and carrot. Enjoy!
- Tip: If you get the whole bean paste, you can mash into small bits to release its flavor.
- For storage tips, please check out “How to make Vegan Zha Jiang Mian” section