chicken chow mein
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So apparently it is an original Chinese dish after all. I was convinced it was bastardised Chinese food, made outside of China for the western palate.
It is predominantly made outside of China, this much is true, but it does have its roots in Cantonese cuisine, chow mein meaning simply ‘fried noodles’. Chicken is the most popular meat topping for the noodles but pork, prawns, beef or tofu are all acceptable.
What can I say? I adore noodles. I could live on noodles, be it wheat or rice, udon or glass. As long as they are dressed with some decent sauce, a few shreds of pak choi or beansprouts, I’m theirs until the bottom of the bowl. Or the bottom of the box – because that’s one takeaway staple most of us couldn’t give up.
I tried to reproduce the takeaway flavour but helas! no MSG available. Joking there, of course, that’s one takeaway aspect you can do without – but the both light and dark soy sauce, the random pinch of sugar; the crispy-almost-burnt noodles make for a deeply satisfying dish.
- 300g (10oz.) fresh medium egg noodles or 2 servings dried
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 200g (7oz.) chicken
- For the marinade:
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp fine salt
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp chili paste
- 1 tsp cornflour
- For the stir fry:
- ½ red bell pepper, cored and sliced thinly
- 30g (1oz.) mangetout, trimmed
- 2 slices Parma ham or smoked cooked ham, shredded
- 30g (1oz.) Napa cabbage leaves, shredded
- 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
- groundnut oil
- light soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
If using dried noodles, soak them in a pan of boiling water for 3-4 minutes (or follow the packet instructions). Drain, rinse with cold water and stir in the sesame oil.
Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Skin the chicken fillet and cut it into thin strips. Stir it into the marinade and chill for 20 minutes.
Heat a wok until smoking; add 1 tbsp. of the groundnut oil. Add the chicken and stir fry until all the pieces have coloured lightly; transfer back to the bowl.
Add another tbsp. of oil to the wok and throw in the peppers and the mangetout. Stir fry for two minutes. Add the Parma ham, cabbage and most of the spring onions; reserve a little for garnish. Drizzle in a little light soy sauce and stir fry for a minute. Return the chicken to the wok and give it all a good stir.
Push the chicken and vegetables to the sides of the wok and add the noodles. Sprinkle the sugar and a little sesame oil over them. Make sure they are not burning underneath but getting crispy so prod them with chopsticks.
When they start to catch at the bottom, stir the chicken and veg from the sides into the noodles, mix everything well together and serve with the reserved spring onions sprinkled on top.