YAKAMEIN (often pronounced “yaka-mee”) is a cult New Orleans specialty that’s one part ramen bowl, one part pho, and 50 parts New Orleans: a rowdy combination of spaghetti noodles, intensely seasoned broth, eggs, and slurpable shreds of meat. The version you get at Big Easy corner stores—usually served in a Styrofoam cup—tends to feature beef pot roast, but the slow simmering and generous spicing (not to mention the deer-camp-friendly ingredient list) make yakamein a natural vehicle for wild game. We call for a deer roast—the top round is especially nice for this—but I’ve made it with thawed stew meat and other cuts as well as with wild boar. Oh, and a bonus point: New Orleans lore says yakamein cures hangovers.
2 to 3 lb. venison roast, from the legs or shoulder
4 cups unsalted or low-salt beef broth
1 Tbsp. Cajun/Creole seasoning (preferably Tony Chachere’s)
16 oz. spaghetti
1 Tbsp. vegetable or other neutral oil
6 large eggs
½ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce or ketchup
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
Louisiana hot sauce, for serving
After the slow-cooked venison has cooled slightly, shred the meat and divide it across six bowls. Christopher Testani; food and prop styling by Roscoe Betsill
1. Place the venison roast in a medium stockpot and add the beef broth. Add cold water to just cover the roast, about 4 to 6 cups, then stir in the Cajun/Creole seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to very low and cook, partially covered, until the meat is almost fall-apart tender, about 3 hours. Every now and then, use a large spoon to skim any foam from the top.
2. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Without reducing heat, use tongs or a pasta spoon to transfer the noodles to a bowl (reserving the boiling water), then toss them with the vegetable oil to prevent the noodles from sticking while they cool.
3. Carefully slip the eggs into the still-boiling pasta water and set a kitchen timer for 6 minutes, 30 seconds. Prepare an ice-water bath. When the eggs are done, transfer them to the ice water to cool.
4. When the meat is done, transfer it to a bowl, then carefully strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. (You can skip this straining if you prefer, but it does yield a clearer, cleaner broth.) Add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and chili-garlic sauce or ketchup to the broth. Taste for seasoning; it should be richly spiced and pack a big savory blast of flavor.
5. To serve, bring the broth back to a simmer. Peel the eggs and slice lengthwise. Lightly shred the venison and divide among six big bowls. Add some spaghetti to the bowls (you’ll probably have some left over), along with two soft-boiled-egg halves for each bowl, then ladle in the hot broth. Give it a minute or two for everything to be heated through. Garnish each bowl with scallions and a few dashes of hot sauce. Serves 6
This story originally ran in the Fall 2022 Issue of Field & Stream. Read more F&S+ stories.