Yaka Mein, also known as “Old Sober,” is a dish that originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, because it is believed to have restorative properties that can help cure hangovers. It is a popular street food, particularly in African American neighborhoods. The beef noodle soup typically includes boiled eggs, green onions, and a spicy beef broth.
The name “Yaka Mein” is said to be derived from the Chinese phrase “ngau yoke mein,” which means “beef noodle soup.” However, the dish has also been called “Old Sober” because it is often consumed as a hangover cure. Yaka Mein is believed to have originated in the early 20th century when Chinese immigrants in New Orleans began selling bowls of noodles and broth to African American customers. Over time, the dish evolved to include ingredients like boiled eggs and green onions, commonly found in Creole cuisine.
Today, Yaka Mein remains a popular dish in New Orleans, with many local restaurants and food vendors offering their own recipe versions. It is also celebrated annually at the Yaka Mein Festival, which takes place in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans.
Here’s a recipe for Yaka Mein that serves 6-8 people:
1 pound beef brisket, cut into bite-sized pieces (You may use any beef steak, pork, chicken, shrimp, crawfish, or a combination of the meat.)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
6 cups beef broth
2 cups cooked spaghetti
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
Green onions, chopped, for garnish
Soy sauce and hot sauce, for serving
- Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven.
- Add the beef brisket and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
- Add the Creole seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, hot sauce, garlic, onion, bell pepper, and celery.
- Stir well to combine and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the beef broth and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 1-2 hours or until the beef is tender.
- Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions and set aside.
- To serve, place a portion of spaghetti in a bowl, ladle the beef and broth over the top, and add a few egg halves.
- Garnish with green onions and serve with soy sauce and hot sauce on the side.
Enjoy your delicious Yaka Mein!