Ja-ja-men: Japanese Spicey-Pork and Udon


Jack: I haven’t asked you to dine with me anywhere to-night.

Algernon: I know. You are absurdly careless about sending out invitations. It is very foolish of you. Nothing annoys people so much as not receiving invitations.

— Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Novel for Serious People) ~~ quote begins @ 10:22

Link to all 11 episodes of the 1985 TV movie.

I seriously enjoyed one trip to the cottage up North while listening to a book-on-tape reading of Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest. The five hours of the car ride flew by with witty repartee, and incisive comments on the foibles of human nature. Mr. Tess doesn’t remember that trip, but he found a video of the play (anthony asquith) from the library. Fun evening! and good food—he did remember a similar meal I’d made!

‘If one cannot enjoy a recipe over and over again, there is no use in reading recipes at all.’
— misquote from Oscar Wilde

I wanted noodles. Hot and spicy noodles. Fast.
The answer: something like the spicy pork and udon noodles I made last December called Ja-Ja-Men Udon.

Jajamen is a recipe which came to Japan from China through Morioka city, the center of Iwate Prefecture. Morioka is famous for three major meins(麺(noodle dishes): wanko soba, Morioka reimen and Morioka jajamen: fat hot udon noodles with minced cucumber, leek and special miso.
Diners add vinegar, chili oil and garlic as they like. After eating, raw egg and reserved udon water are added with several seasonings. This is called Chiitan. (scroll down to see the pictures)

This recipe is quick and simple to make, and though it is very spicy, it reminds me of the subtle elegance of pork and miso ramen. This weekend will be cold and rainy and I hope to have a big pot of bones boiling toward the mystical perfect ramen stock.

3 Tablespoons sake
3 Tablespoons aka miso (red miso)
1 Tablespoon sugar (original recipe calls for 2 Tbs.)
2 Tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
6 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons tobanjan (Japanese chili paste)
5 Tablespoons mirin
½ cup dashi
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
4 scallions, green and white parts separated
8 ounces ground pork
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
Noodles + Toppings
1 pound dry udon noodles
1 cucumber, diced roughly
rice vinegar, LaYu chili oil, and grated garlic and ginger
reserved noodle water (hot)
1 egg

Combine the sake, miso, tahini, soy sauce, tobanjan, mirin, and dashi in a bowl and set aside. In a small bowl or cup, mix together the cornstarch and water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is golden 1 minute.
Add the pork and minced green scallion. Use a wooden spatula to combine these ingredients with the garlic and ginger. Cook until the pork is done. Add the sesame oil and decrease the heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes longer, stirring constantly to combine well.
Add the sake and miso mixture, and stir well. Remove from the heat.
Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the udon noodles and cook, following the package instructions. Drain well.
Divide the noodles among 4 plates. Top with the meat sauce. Sprinkle with sliced white scallion rings and cucumber. Diners can add rice vinegar, LaYu chili oil, and grated garlic and ginger as they like.
When most of the noodles have been eaten, add some boiling hot noodle water to the bowl and stir in the egg.

Morioka Jajamen (盛岡じゃじゃ麺) – Chinese Style noodles with miso.

I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.”
— Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest)

“Jack: Actually, I was found.
Lady Bracknell: Found?
Jack: Uh, yes, I was in… a handbag.
Lady Bracknell: A handbag?
Jack: Yes, it was…
[makes gestures]
Jack: an ordinary handbag.”
— Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Novel for Serious People)



4 thoughts on “Ja-ja-men: Japanese Spicey-Pork and Udon

  1. Oscar Wilde was perfection in one of my favorite plays. The Asquith version is perfect, too, or very nearly so, with the small quibble that Michal Redgrave was a little long in the tooth to play Jack Worthing. But a VERY small quibble. I adore the divine Joan Greenwood, Margaret Rutherford and Dame Edith Evans. Sublime all, and it’s such great fun.

    Those noodles look delicous, and I’m sure the dish would be just fine with rice noodles which I have in the pantry. It won’t be ramen, but it will still be good.

    Enjoy your weekend and your beautiful pork stock; I can almost hear it burbling away. :)

    Kudos to Mr. Tess for finding that video.

    • I agree.

      Mr. Wilde was a man before his time.
      I didn’t even look for the Asquith version on YouTube; it might be there? It was excellent and from the library here (a good reason to pay taxes!): actors and costumes were wonderful. But the version here from the TV production is also very enjoyable. Great fun: the play is so good.

      This recipe would work with rice or rice noodles!

      The ramen stock pork bone thing is boiling and steaming now! Tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings today, then rain and snow here tomorrow!!

      • Oh, my. What weather! Stay safe, Tess.

        We were supposed to have severe thunderstorms and high winds all day. It’s calm and sunny right now, so maybe they’ll come later. No snow here, but it should turn cold, which I happen to like.

        A good day for soup and noodles where you are, that’s for sure.

        Don’t know about the Asquith on YouTube, but it’s worth a look. You can never tell what might turn up there. It’s available on DVD and Blu-Ray and can be purchased for rather little, or so I’d imagine. I know NetFlix has it. I think I still have it on tape, but no longer have a tape player. Technology moves on….

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