ZHA JIANG NOODLES
3 tsp peanut or safflower oil
1/2 pound ground meat
1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
3 green onions, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 to 5 tbsp bean paste
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 pound fresh (medium width) egg noodles
1/2 cucumber, seeded and julienned
1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
Place a wok or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 teaspoon of the oil. When oil is hot, add meat and stir-fry, breaking up clumps as it cooks, when done transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Return wok to heat and add remaining 2 teaspoons oil. When hot, add ginger, green onions and garlic; stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add the bean paste and stir-fry for 1 minute, constantly scraping the sides and bottom of the wok to dislodge any caramelized bean paste. The bean paste should become thicker and lose any raw smell.
Stir in the stock, soy sauce, sesame oil and reserved meat. Cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium- low and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, until thick. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add a little stock or water if the sauce reduces too much.
Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain.
For each serving: Arrange one quarter of the julienned cucumber in a bowl. Top with a layer of noodles. Ladle on some of the sauce, then top with cilantro and additional chopped green onions.