Chinese Spag Bowl

A bolognese but not as you know it

We love any excuse for a celebration and Chinese New Year has got us all “Let’s eat lots of Chinese food now thank you”. Thumbing the brilliant Chinatown Kitchen by Lizzie Mabbott (Mitchell Beazley, £20), our eyes lit up at this recipe for Chinese spag bol – how can such a thing exist without us knowing about it till now? So we are sharing the wonder and wishing you a prosperous and happy year of the monkey.

“This dish has of course nothing to do with bolognese as you or I know it. There are no tomatoes or red wine anywhere near this, and in fact the only similarities are that it is made by simmering meat in a sauce and then dressing noodles with it. But I’m still going with the name Chinese Spag Bol. The yellow bean sauce is the base of the dish, and the longer the meat simmers in it, the more flavoursome it becomes. The addition of fresh, crunchy vegetables mixed in at the end makes it feel deceptively light. You’ve been warned.”

Serves 4

2 free-range eggs
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 spring onions, white parts finely, green parts into rings
2 tsp fresh root ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
400g (14oz) fatty minced pork
3 tbsp yellow bean paste
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp hoi sin sauce
100ml (3½fl oz) water
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 carrot, peeled
½ cucumber
300g (10½oz) fresh Shanghai noodles


1. Firstly, beat the eggs. Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in a wok, or non-stick frying pan, until shimmering. Add the beaten eggs and cook them over a medium heat until set to make a thin omelette. Remove to a plate and set to one side.

2. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the wok over a medium heat, and add the spring onion whites, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry until fragrant. Then add the minced pork, breaking up any clumps, and cook until browned.

3. Add the yellow bean paste, soy sauces and hoi sin sauce with the water and Shaoxing rice wine and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it’s looking a little dry, add a touch more water. Meanwhile, julienne the carrot and cucumber and set aside. Roll the omelette up and slice finely. Cook the noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water for a minute, then drain and place in a big serving bowl.

4. Pour the meat sauce on top, and then add the vegetables and sliced omelette and stir to combine. Garnish with the greens of the spring onion and serve.