Yakamein

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If you’ve never heard of Yakamien, you’re in for a life-changing beef noodle soup that’s loaded with a blend of Creole and Chinese flavors.

Yakamein

Yakamein or Yat gaw mein or yet ca mein, regardless of how you pronounce this beef noodle soup, has a depth of flavor, unlike most beef soups that are out there, which is New Orleans in every way. I love that we do everything a little differently, but our difference is warm, inviting, communal and flavorful.

Yakamein is the love child of two cultures that take their food seriously, African-Americans and Chinese. That’s precisely how ol’ sober was created, a blend of cultures to create something remarkable.

I know Ms. Linda Green, also known as the Yakamein lady, so this recipe is special to me because I want to honor her legacy. She’s been making her signature recipe for years because her mother passed it down to her, and she’s taken it to the next level.

If you’re ever in New Orleans, pass by her stand in the French Market.

Unlike her, I don’t have a secret family recipe, but I have created this recipe after years of eating yakamein and studying the Chinese technique for beef noodle soup. I’m going to make beef broth which is the most important part of this recipe. The juice has all the lip-smacking flavor in it and will perfume your home and make your taste buds dance. Let’s dive into how we make this hidden New Orleans gem.

This recipe is my homage to the lovely Chef Linda Green!

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What is yakamein?

Yakamein is a beef noodle soup found in Chinese restaurants or vendors selling street food during second lines. It’s made with chuck roast, spaghetti noodles, beef broth, soy sauce, and Cajun seasoning and garnished with hard-boiled eggs, chopped green onions, and hot sauce.

It’s extremely popular in the African-American community in New Orleans, and the origins of this dish are why.

There’s some mystery about how yakamein came to be, but it happened with the blending of cultures.

Some believe the dish was created in the 1800s when Chinese immigrants were in New Orleans to help build the railroads. Others believe that African-American soldiers who returned from World War II or the Korean War were looking for something similar to a beef noodle dish they had and recreated it.

However, it was created; it’s damn good and warming to the soul. It got the name old sober because it can cure hangovers after a night partying in New Orleans.

If you go to a Chinese restaurant in New Orleans, you may see it spelled as yat kai mein, yat gaw mein, yat gat mein, or some other variation.

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Key Ingredients

Here are the essential ingredients you’ll need to make a delicious pot of yakamein at home.

Beef Chuck Roast

This is the star of the dish. We must take it through several cooking phases to get the right flavor and fork-tender texture.

Ginger

Since we’re making homemade broth, we need to load it up with aromatic flavor. You’ll also need cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground clove.

Beef Broth

This is an excellent shortcut to building flavor.

Eggs

You have to have hard-boiled eggs.

Spaghetti

I’ve seen some people use other noodles, but we’re not going to fix what’s not broken.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce will add tons of umami (meaty) flavor to the dish without any additional salt.

Creole Seasoning

Use a Creole seasoning you trust. That’s why I only use Savory Cajun seasoning; it’s the perfect all-purpose seasoning. It keeps me from using individual spices like cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Green Onions

Green onions are a must in yakamein.

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How to make Yakamein?

The key to cooking Yakamein is using the right technique and being patient. That’s how I’m going to teach you to make this recipe. Keep this in mind it’s all about the juice/broth, so take your time to make it right the first time.

In a large pot, add chuck roast, onion, and ginger. Cover with water and a lid, and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove beef and drain other ingredients. Dry beef with paper towels on a baking sheet. 

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Cajun seasoning, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground clove. 

In the same pot over medium heat, add oil, onions, green onion whites, and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. Add beef, and cook for 3 minutes until brown. Then add bay leaves, half the seasoning mix, and tomatoes; stir until fragrant. 

Add beef broth and remaining seasoning mix, bring to a boil, cover and then simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Stir from time to time to make sure the beef is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. While beef simmers, cook the spaghetti and hard-boiled eggs. 

Once the beef is fork tender, remove the meat, and chop the beef into smaller bite-sized pieces.

Hard boil eggs; in a medium pot, bring water to a boil, and add eggs slowly, making sure not to drop and crack them. Bring water to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover for 10 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water three times. Peel boiled eggs and cut them in half. 

Evenly divide spaghetti into bowls, and add chopped beef, green onion, and a hard-boiled egg. Pour hot yakamein juice over the noodles. Top it off with hot sauce.

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Pro Recipe Tips & Tricks

Here are the best flavor builders, techniques, and substitutes to keep in mind when preparing yakamein.

  • Feel free to use tamari soy sauce if you have a gluten allergy.
  • Break your spaghetti in half before boiling them. It’ll make it easier to get the perfect bite.
  • You can use tri-tip roast, top round roast, or rump roast instead of chuck roast.
  • If you have some Chinese five spices in your pantry, use equal amounts instead of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
  • You can add 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce for more flavor.
  • Add cayenne pepper if you want more heat to your beef noodle soup.
  • Use your favorite Louisiana hot sauce or Sriracha.
  • Creole seasoning and Cajun seasoning are the same.
  • To make soft-boiled eggs cook them for 6-8 minutes.
  • Adding ice to your cooked eggs will cool them down faster.
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FAQs

Here are the top questions readers have about making yakamein at home.

Is yakamein a Chinese food?

Yes and no. Yakamein has its origins in Chinese cuisine. However, the yakamein recipe from New Orleans is a blend of Creole, African and Chinese cuisine.

What noodles do you use for yakamein?

The best noodles to use for yakamein is spaghetti noodles. The only other one recommended is vermicelli noodles.

What vegetables can I add to Yakamein?

Traditionally, a New Orleans yakamein has no vegetables except green onions. However, to make it a more filling soup, try adding baby bok choy, napa cabbage, or bean sprouts.

How to store leftover Yakamein?

Yakamein is great on the day off but even better the next day. Store cooled broth in an airtight container for 7 days. Place the spaghetti in a storage bag in the fridge for 7 days.

Freeze yakamein in a freezer-safe container for 3 months. Thaw 24 hours before using.

Reheat in a pot over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until hot.

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More Recipes

If you love New Orleans soup recipes, I’m sure you’ll enjoy these too!

Latest Recipe Video:

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Before You Begin

Here are my steps for getting organized and moving fast in the kitchen.

Step 1: Pull all the tools and ingredients for the yakamein onto the counter.

Step 2: Measure everything out.

Step 3: Follow the recipe and get ready for the best beef noodles you’ve ever enjoyed.

If you’re looking for a fun and easy recipe that will transport you right to the heart of New Orleans, look no further than my yakamein recipe. This dish is perfect for any occasion – from Mardi Gras celebrations to game day get-togethers. Be sure to leave me a comment and a star rating once you try it out!

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Yakamein

Kenneth Temple
If you've never heard of Yakamien, you're in for a life-changing beef noodle soup that's loaded with a blend of Creole and Chinese flavors.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Chinese, Creole
Servings 12 persons
Calories 230 kcal

Ingredients
  

Yakamein Broth:

  • 1 lb. beef chuck roast chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion halved
  • 2- inch piece of fresh ginger sliced
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 bunch green onions chopped, divide greens from white
  • 3 garlic cloves sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Roma tomato quartered
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • Louisiana hot sauce

Seasoning Mix:

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, add chuck roast, onion, and ginger cover with water and a lid, and bring to a boil. Remove beef and drain other ingredients. Dry beef with paper towels on a baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Cajun seasoning, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground clove.
  • In the same pot over medium heat, add oil, onion, green onion whites, and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. Add beef, and cook for 3 minutes until brown. Then add bay leaves, half the seasoning mix, and tomatoes stir until fragrant.
  • Add beef broth, soy sauce and remaining seasoning mix, bring to a boil, cover and then simmer over low heat for 1 hour. While beef cooks, cook spaghetti and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Once the beef is fork tender, remove the meat, and chop the beef into smaller bite-sized pieces.
  • Hard boil eggs, in a medium pot, bring water to a boil, and add eggs slowly, making sure not to drop and crack them, bring water to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover for 10 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water three times. Peel eggs, and cut them in half.
  • Evenly divide spaghetti into bowls, and add chopped beef, green onion, and egg. Pour hot yakamein juice over the noodles.

Notes

Pro Recipe Tips & Tricks
Here are the best flavor builders, techniques, and substitutes to keep in mind when preparing yaka mein.
  • Feel free to use tamari soy sauce if you have a gluten allergy.
  • Break your spaghetti in half before boiling them. It’ll make it easier to get the perfect bite.
  • You can use tri-tip roast, top round roast, or rump roast instead of chuck roast.
  • If you have some Chinese five spices in your pantry, use equal amounts instead of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
  • You can add 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce for more flavor.
  • Add cayenne pepper if you want more heat to your beef noodle soup.
  • Use your favorite Louisiana hot sauce or  Sriracha.
  • Creole seasoning and Cajun seasoning are the same.
  • To make soft-boiled eggs cook them for 6-8 minutes.
  • Adding ice to your cooked eggs will cool them down faster. 
Storage:
Yaka mein is great the day of but even better the next day. Store cooled broth in an airtight container for 7 days. Place the spaghetti in a storage bag in the fridge for 7 days.
Freeze yakamein in a freezer-safe container for 3 months. Thaw 24 hours before using.
Reheat in a pot over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until hot.

Nutrition

Calories: 230kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 18gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 135mgSodium: 938mgPotassium: 579mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1090IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Chinese yaka mein recipe, New Orleans noodle soup, New Orleans noodles, New Orleans soup, recipe for yakamein, yaka mein, yaka mein New Orleans, yakamein, yakamein recipe
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