Affectionately dubbed ‘Old Sober’, the little-known New Orleans dish called yakamein is said to right even the worst symptoms of fun.
It turns out that this belief in yakamein’s transformative effects is more than faith. In a conference talk a few years ago, food scientist Alyson E Mitchell said that, indeed, yakamein likely helps hangovers. Eggs have cysteine, an amino acid that helps scrub acetaldehyde (one of alcohol’s toxic by-products) from the body. The fatty meat can help slow down the absorption of alcohol, making yakamein an equally good choice before a night out as it is after. The salty broth replaces the sodium lost during all those alcohol-induced trips to the toilet; it also encourages you to drink more water, fighting dehydration.
“It may be a good example of intuitive science: an effective remedy, with the scientific basis revealed only years later,” Mitchell said.
Yakamein (pronounced ‘YAH-kah-main’) is one of those foods that, if you weren’t born and bred in New Orleans, you’re sure you’ve never heard of in your life. And then, with equal certainty, you suddenly know you can’t live without it ever again. But live without it most of us must.
It’s thought to be a fusion that resulted when Chinese immigrants and African-Americans blended homes, kitchens and ingredients in the early 1900s. But others say it developed further after World War II, or maybe the Vietnam and Korean Wars, when soldiers returned from the Pacific Theatre with memories of hot noodle soups.
- 1 pound boneless chuck roast
- 1 tablespoon Cajun Spice Mix
- 1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
- 2 bunches green onions, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Beef stock
- 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
- Soy sauce
- Garnish: boiled shrimp, hot sauce, ketchup, boiled cauliflower, boiled broccoli, boiled carrots
- Place chuck roast in a large saucepot, cover with water, and heat over medium-high heat. Once at a low-boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until roast is cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove roast from cooking liquid, and set aside. Reserve 8 cups cooking liquid.
- In a large saucepot, stir together reserved cooking liquid and Ms. Linda Green’s Ya-Ka-Mein Seasoning. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Once seasoning mixture has dissolved, remove from heat, and keep hot.
- Once beef is cool enough to handle, carefully chop into bite-size pieces; set aside, and keep warm.
- Divide cooked spaghetti among 8 large bowls; top with beef, green onion, and 2 egg quarters. Ladle 1 cup broth mixture over each, and top with a dash of soy sauce. Garnish with boiled shrimp, hot sauce, ketchup, or boiled vegetables, if desired.