I'm recreating childhood with this dish, except with leaner meat, tastier cheese, and the requisite fried egg.
When you are young, you can't help but notice the differences between you and the other kids at school. I had always known that my meals at home were distinctly different from the sandwiches and pasta that my friends were eating, which made me all the more curious about Western food and Western cooking. Now that I am older, I begin to see the similarities between the meals that felt so different as a child. Even across cultures, mothers were the same - and the food we enjoyed as children were not as different as it had seemed.
I remember my mother's zhajiang mien, which might as well be the Chinese version of pasta with meat sauce. Except instead of tomato sauce, it's spicy black bean paste. And instead of spaghetti out of a Barelli box, it's wide noodles out of a Shandong Mien box. And she would whip up large batches of the black bean paste meat sauce (zhajiang rou, or zhajiang meat) like any Italian mama, which would then be stored for future meals.
And on days where no one felt like cooking but everyone was hungry, we would spoon the zhajiang meat onto bread, slap on a slice of Kraft Singles, and toast it until the cheese melted. It was just as tasty as any sloppy joe out there.
What you need:
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 star anise
- 1/4 pound ground turkey
- 2 tbsp spicy black bean sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp cooking wine
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 4 slices bread
- 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
How to do it:
- In a heavy pan with a lid, heat oil on medium heat. Stir fry garlic, ginger, and star anise until fragrant and then add ground turkey. Fry until cooked, breaking up the ground meat into small pieces.
- Mix in black bean sauce, soy sauce, cooking wine, and hoisin sauce. If it's too dry, add a little bit of water. Cover and turn the heat down, allowing the zhajiang meat to simmer for 5-10min.
- Meanwhile in a separate pan, fry two eggs either sunny side up or over easy based on your preference.
- Assemble the two sandwiches by first sprinkling cheese on top of the bread. When the zhajiang meat is ready, spoon on top of the cheese. Top the whole thing with an egg and some cilantro.
- Close off the sandwich and toast on both sides until bread is golden brown and the shredded cheese has melted.