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Ja jien mein (noodles with meat sauce)

Recipe by executive chef/owner, Khan’s Cave

Big pots full of veggies make Chef Mark Sun smile.
Big pots full of veggies make Chef Mark Sun smile.

The restaurant business is in my family. When I was in high school, I lived with my cousin in Scotland, and he taught me how to cook. My parents were living in Hong Kong at the time, and then moved to Washington, DC, where we joined them. After working in a few kitchens in Maryland, my cousin and I decided to open our own restaurant. We thought about L.A. but it was too diverse and we weren’t sure where we could be successful. Then one day, I drove down to San Diego and found it to be very pretty. Soon after, we opened up Szechuan Mandarin in Mission Gorge.

San Diego in the 1970s was decades behind the East Coast. At the time, no one even knew how to pronounce “Szechuan.” We had a tough time trying to introduce spicy, northern Chinese cuisine to San Diego locals, and it took five or six years to get the restaurant going. However, after a few years of good press and adventurous eaters, we became busy all the time.

It was hard work. There is nothing glamorous about the restaurant business. You want to get your blood pressure up? Work in a kitchen. It’s long hours, messy, and things always break at the worst possible time.

Place

Khan's Cave Grill & Tavern

9350 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Suite F, San Diego

Twenty-two years after I opened Szechuan Mandarin, I sold it. I quit because of my frustration. But after 18 months, I realized that sitting at home on a Friday night doesn’t interest me. I found out that the world isn’t any better without a restaurant, so I decided to go back into it and just learn to deal with the difficulties. I opened up Khan’s Cave, which is an Asian-fusion restaurant, and despite the economic conditions, we are doing really well.

I rarely cook at home. I like simple things, like a bowl of noodles. I don’t like sweet dishes, but I love Vietnamese and Korean dishes.

INGREDIENTS

(Serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 oz. ground or diced pork
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 slice of sun-dried tofu, diced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 oz sherry
  • 1/4 cup soybean paste (available in Asian markets or can substitute miso paste)
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • shredded cucumber and chopped scallions for garnish

HOW TO DO IT

Heat wok or skillet, add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Sauté pork and onion until brown. Add tofu and cook until golden. Next add ginger, cooking wine, soybean paste, and hoisin sauce.

Continue to sauté for 2 or 3 more minutes, then add water and chicken broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about a quarter of the original volume.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the noodles of your choice. When the sauce is finished, cover noodles and garnish with cucumber and scallions.

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Big pots full of veggies make Chef Mark Sun smile.
Big pots full of veggies make Chef Mark Sun smile.

The restaurant business is in my family. When I was in high school, I lived with my cousin in Scotland, and he taught me how to cook. My parents were living in Hong Kong at the time, and then moved to Washington, DC, where we joined them. After working in a few kitchens in Maryland, my cousin and I decided to open our own restaurant. We thought about L.A. but it was too diverse and we weren’t sure where we could be successful. Then one day, I drove down to San Diego and found it to be very pretty. Soon after, we opened up Szechuan Mandarin in Mission Gorge.

San Diego in the 1970s was decades behind the East Coast. At the time, no one even knew how to pronounce “Szechuan.” We had a tough time trying to introduce spicy, northern Chinese cuisine to San Diego locals, and it took five or six years to get the restaurant going. However, after a few years of good press and adventurous eaters, we became busy all the time.

It was hard work. There is nothing glamorous about the restaurant business. You want to get your blood pressure up? Work in a kitchen. It’s long hours, messy, and things always break at the worst possible time.

Place

Khan's Cave Grill & Tavern

9350 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Suite F, San Diego

Twenty-two years after I opened Szechuan Mandarin, I sold it. I quit because of my frustration. But after 18 months, I realized that sitting at home on a Friday night doesn’t interest me. I found out that the world isn’t any better without a restaurant, so I decided to go back into it and just learn to deal with the difficulties. I opened up Khan’s Cave, which is an Asian-fusion restaurant, and despite the economic conditions, we are doing really well.

I rarely cook at home. I like simple things, like a bowl of noodles. I don’t like sweet dishes, but I love Vietnamese and Korean dishes.

INGREDIENTS

(Serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 oz. ground or diced pork
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 slice of sun-dried tofu, diced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 oz sherry
  • 1/4 cup soybean paste (available in Asian markets or can substitute miso paste)
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • shredded cucumber and chopped scallions for garnish

HOW TO DO IT

Heat wok or skillet, add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Sauté pork and onion until brown. Add tofu and cook until golden. Next add ginger, cooking wine, soybean paste, and hoisin sauce.

Continue to sauté for 2 or 3 more minutes, then add water and chicken broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about a quarter of the original volume.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the noodles of your choice. When the sauce is finished, cover noodles and garnish with cucumber and scallions.

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Comments
1

Made this today. This is awesome, so very tasty! Thank you for posting this!

Jan. 27, 2013

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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