How to Make Yakamein
Yakamein, most likely brought to New Orleans by Chinese immigrants in the nineteenth century, consists of noodles and strips of beef in a hearty, Cajun-spiced broth, topped with hard-boiled egg and scallions. You can find both upscale versions made with expensive meats and homemade noodles and corner-store bowls of stew meat with beef bouillon and cheap spaghetti—far more common and, many would argue, just as tasty. The master of this nourishing form is Linda Green, a frequent vendor at parades and festivals, who calls herself “the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady.” Green learned how to make yakamein from her mother and grandmother. While she has never written down the family recipe, she did agree to share a version with us.
1 (2 1/2-to 3-pound) boneless chuck or eye of round roast 8 to 9 cups water 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s ½ to ⅔ cup soy sauce, plus more to taste 1 tablespoon ketchup, plus more for topping if you like 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce, plus more to taste 1 (1-pound) package spaghetti, cooked according to package directions 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced 5 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
Place the beef roast in a large stockpot. Cover with water, and then add the Creole seasoning. Place over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, until the beef is tender. Remove the beef to a large bowl and allow the beef and stock to cool for 20 to 30 minutes.
Shred or chop cooled beef, removing and discarding any large chunks of fat. Skim the fat from the top of the stock. Add the soy sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to the stock, tasting as you go and adjusting the seasonings if needed. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the skimmed stock over medium heat until simmering.
To serve, divide the spaghetti and meat among 10 bowls. Top each with scallions and half an egg and ladle some stock over the top. Serve with hot sauce or ketchup.