Yakamein

yakamein

Yakamein which also known as “Old Sober,” is a beloved New Orleans dish that combines the heartiness of beef stew with the comforting elements of noodle soup. This dish is a true fusion of cultures, embodying the spirit of New Orleans with its blend of African, Creole, and Asian influences. Yakamein is a flavorful, warming dish perfect for curing hangovers or simply enjoying as a hearty meal.

What Makes This So Great?

Yakamein stands out because it brings together a rich beef broth, tender chunks of beef, and the satisfying bite of spaghetti noodles, all topped with hard-boiled eggs and green onions. This combination results in a deeply comforting dish that is both nourishing and flavorful. The Creole seasoning adds a unique kick that sets it apart from other noodle soups, making it a distinctive New Orleans classic.

Another great aspect of Yakamein is its versatility. It’s perfect for a cozy night in, a hearty lunch, or as a remedy for a hangover, which is why it’s earned the nickname “Old Sober.” The dish is also relatively easy to make, requiring simple ingredients and straightforward cooking methods, making it accessible for home cooks of all levels.

What Kitchen Items Do You Need To Make This?

To make Yakamein, you’ll need the following kitchen items:

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  1. Medium-Sized Bowl: For tossing the beef chunks in Creole seasoning.
  2. Dutch Oven or Large Pot: For searing the beef and cooking the stew.
  3. Tongs or Slotted Spoon: To handle the beef chunks during searing.
  4. Cutting Board and Knife: For chopping the vegetables.
  5. Wooden Spoon or Spatula: For stirring the ingredients.
  6. Large Pot: For cooking the spaghetti.
  7. Colander: For draining the spaghetti.
  8. Bowls: For serving the finished Yakamein.

What Ingredients Are Needed For This Recipe?

Here’s a detailed list of the ingredients you’ll need to make Yakamein:

  • 3 lbs beef chuck or stew meat: Cut into 1-inch chunks for the stew.
  • 2 tsp Creole seasoning: Adds a distinctive kick to the beef.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil: For searing the beef and cooking the vegetables.
  • 1 large yellow onion: Chopped, for the base of the stew.
  • 1 large celery stalk: Chopped, adds depth to the stew.
  • 1 green bell pepper: Chopped, for additional flavor.
  • 4 garlic cloves: Minced, for aromatic depth.
  • Salt and pepper: To taste, for seasoning.
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce: Adds umami to the broth.
  • 6 eggs: Hard-boiled, one per serving.
  • 3 green onions: Finely chopped, for garnish.
  • 1 lb spaghetti: Cooked according to package instructions.

How To Make It

Preparing the Beef and Vegetables

  1. Season the Beef: In a medium-sized bowl, toss the beef chunks in the Creole seasoning.
  2. Sear the Beef: Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add some of the beef chunks in batches to avoid overcrowding. Sear the beef for about 2 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Remove from the pot and repeat with the remaining beef.

Cooking the Stew

  1. Cook the Vegetables: Once all the beef is seared, add olive oil to the pot along with the chopped onion, celery, and bell pepper. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add Garlic: Add the minced garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Combine Ingredients: Return the beef to the pot, and add the soy sauce and 12 cups of water. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer: Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let it cook until the beef is very tender, about 2 hours.

Preparing the Noodles and Eggs

  1. Cook the Spaghetti: While the stew is simmering, cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain the noodles and toss them with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Prepare the Eggs: Hard boil the eggs, then peel and set them aside.

Assembling the Yakamein

  1. Taste and Adjust: Once the beef is tender, taste the broth and adjust the seasoning if needed. You can shred the beef if desired.
  2. Serve: To assemble, add noodles to bowls and ladle the beef stew over them. Top each serving with a hard-boiled egg and sprinkle with chopped green onions.

What Is The History Behind This Recipe?

Yakamein has a rich and fascinating history that reflects the cultural melting pot of New Orleans. Its origins are somewhat murky, but it is believed to have roots in both African-American and Chinese-American communities in New Orleans. Some theories suggest that Yakamein was brought to New Orleans by Chinese immigrants who came to the city in the 19th century to work on the railroads and sugar plantations.

Over time, the dish was adapted and embraced by the local African-American community, who added their own Creole twists, such as using Creole seasoning and incorporating spaghetti noodles instead of traditional Chinese noodles. Yakamein became particularly popular in the city’s African-American neighborhoods and was often sold at second lines, jazz funerals, and other community gatherings.

The dish’s nickname, “Old Sober,” comes from its reputation as a hangover cure. The combination of rich broth, hearty beef, and soothing noodles is said to help revive those who have had a bit too much to drink the night before, making it a popular dish for the morning after a night out.

What Can I Switch Up To Make This Different If I Have Dietary Needs (Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free)?

Yakamein can be adapted to suit various dietary needs with a few simple adjustments:

Vegan/Vegetarian

  • Protein: Substitute the beef with tofu, seitan, or tempeh. Season and cook them in a similar manner to the beef.
  • Broth: Use vegetable broth instead of beef broth.
  • Eggs: Use tofu scramble or omit the eggs altogether.

Gluten-Free

  • Noodles: Use gluten-free spaghetti or rice noodles instead of regular spaghetti.
  • Soy Sauce: Ensure you use a gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.

Healthier Options

  • Less Oil: Reduce the amount of oil used for searing the beef and cooking the vegetables.
  • Lean Meat: Use a leaner cut of beef to reduce the fat content.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is yakamein a Chinese food?

Yakamein is not strictly Chinese food, but rather a fusion dish with influences from Chinese, African-American, and Creole cuisines. It originated in New Orleans and combines elements from these different culinary traditions to create a unique and delicious dish.

Why is it called yakamein?

The name “yakamein” likely derives from Chinese cuisine, with “ya ka mein” referring to a type of noodle soup. The dish was adapted and transformed by the African-American community in New Orleans, resulting in the unique version known as Yakamein.

How old is yakamein?

Yakamein has been around for over a century, with its origins tracing back to the late 19th or early 20th century. It became particularly popular in New Orleans’ African-American neighborhoods and has been a beloved part of the city’s culinary heritage ever since.

How Should I Store This?

To store Yakamein, keep the broth, noodles, and toppings separate to maintain their texture and quality. Store the beef stew in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The cooked noodles can be kept in a separate container, also in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Hard-boiled eggs should be peeled and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

When you’re ready to eat, reheat the beef stew in a pot over medium heat until warmed through. Reheat the noodles by placing them in a colander and pouring hot water over them to loosen and warm them. Assemble the Yakamein by adding the noodles to a bowl, ladling the hot beef stew over them, and topping with green onions and a hard-boiled egg.

Yakamein is a delicious, comforting dish with a rich history and a unique blend of cultural influences. Making it at home allows you to enjoy this New Orleans classic any time you like, and it’s sure to become a favorite in your household. Enjoy experimenting with different seasonings and ingredients to make it your own!

yakamein

Yakamein

Author: Maddy & JD – Them Bites
Yakamein is a Chinese-Creole noodle soup popular in New Orleans. It's comfort food, it's hangover food, it's the byproduct of immigrant communities, and all around a delicious savory dish.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Course dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Chinese, Creole
Servings 6 servings
Calories 393 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs beef chuck or stew meat cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 tsp Creole seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 6 eggs 1 per serving, hard boiled
  • 3 green onions finely chopped
  • 1 lb spaghetti

Recipe Instructions
 

  • In a medium sized bowl, toss the beef chunks in the Creole seasoning. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Once hot, add some of the beef chunks so they aren't touching (do in a few batches).
  • Get a nice sear (about 2 minutes) and sear until all sides are nicely browned. Remove from the pot and repeat with remaining beef.
  • Once the beef has been browned, add olive oil and onion, bell pepper, and celery. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add minced garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Next, return beef to the pot, and add the soy sauce and 12 cups of water.
  • Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and simmer until the beef is very tender, about 2 hours.
  • Next, cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain the noodles and toss with a little olive oil so they don't stick.
  • When the meat is tender shred, if desired, and taste broth for seasoning. To assemble, add noodles to bowls and ladle the beef stew in. Top with green onion and hard boiled eggs.

Nutrition

Calories: 393kcalCarbohydrates: 64gProtein: 13gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.02gSodium: 176mgPotassium: 297mgFiber: 7gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 417IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 103mgIron: 2mg
Keyword yaka mein, Yakamein
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