‘Taiwan Mazesoba’ recipe – It’s not all in the name

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Before we kick off, let’s clear a few things up: this is a Japanese dish, despite ‘Taiwan’ featuring in the name. It is also (generally) made with ramen noodles. After making it for the first time, I looked it up to get a little history. It is said to originate in Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture, Japan), where it was first served in a ramen shop (where the owner was Taiwanese – there you go!) as a way to use up pork mince mix that had not turned out quite right. It does have a bit of a Taiwanese twist, combining spicy meat, fresh veggies, and a raw egg. Its lack of soup sets it apart from other ramen dishes.

I saw the recipe on the Tasty Japan Facebook page, and then tweaked it to suit us and the ingredients we had at home. Last time I made it with fresh soba noodles and it was delicious, but this time I will be sticking with ramen (I am using fresh, but you could easily use dried or even instant noodles minus the flavour packets…)

I am terrible at following recipes, and like to think of them more as guidelines. When dinner time comes around, I reach for whatever we have lying around and go from there. Don’t worry if you don’t have the right ingredients at home – there will be a way to improvise.

This dish uses ground pork which tastes fantastic once you throw in some spice. Not a pork lover? Try minced beef or even turkey!

There is no soup base to this ramen, just a simple sauce to coat the noodles. This means the flavours of the meat, noodles, and vegetables really stand out. Coat your noodles well to give them a lovely sheen.

Top your noodles with veg and meat mix – make it as esthetic as you like! The egg yolk will add some colour, moisture, as well as a wonderful rich flavour.

Now, don’t go worrying about salmonella – the heat from the other ingredients will help cook the egg, and the lack of white means there is no unpleasant texture. If you prefer, I imagine you could poach the yolk, just a little extra work. Or throw a fried egg on there instead! Whatever works for you.

Ingredients:
Note: I am not putting quantities as I tend not to measure anything. Use your judgement based on your taste and appetite!• Noodles (of choice, traditionally ramen noodles)
• Pork mince
• Garlic
• Ginger
• Red chilies
• Soy sauce
• Mirin
• Sesame oil
• Olive oil
• Spring onions, bean sprouts, pak choy…. – veggies of choice that do not require cooking (or cook previously)
• 1 egg per person (yolk only)

Method:

• Cook noodles per packet instruction. Drain. Set aside
• In a wok or frying pan, heat oil, fry off pork with chopped chillies, ginger, and crushed garlic
• The original recipe used chili bean paste which I do not have, so I added a little tomato paste for consistency
• Add in a dash of soy and mirin. Cover and set aside
• In your serving bowls, mix a small amount of soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil and anything else you fancy. This will be the sauce that coats your noodles
• Microwave your sauce (in each serving bowl) for about a minute
• Add a portion of cooked noodles to each bowl, and toss in the sauce to coat
• Add your veggies around the edge of your bowl
• Place a small mound of pork mix into the centre of the bowl, on top of the noodles
• Create a small well in meat. Separate egg yolk from white and place it into the well
• Top with pepper/sesame seeds/seaweed or anything else that takes your fancy
• Mix it all together and it is ready to eat!

It is not unusual to add plain rice to your bowl once you have finished your noodles so you don’t leave any meat or sauce behind! Japan loves to mix its carbs!

Try this vegetarian variation by replacing the minced meat with finely diced vegetables. Here we have a spicy mix of carrot, peppers, aubergine, cabbage, and onion.

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