I prepare Chicken Chow Mein with king mushrooms, tofu, broccoli, sugar snap peas, green beans, carrots and red bell peppers. The dish couldn't be simpler to make, and is definitely a family favorite. It's a great alternative to pasta, and it's an excellent way to make use of leftovers. I often combine the leftover chicken from my poulet roti with whatever vegetables we have on hand.
Chow Mein is one of the few dishes I can cook where it's very easy to make both vegetarian and meat versions simultaneously. I just set aside a portion of the dish before I add chicken to the rest.
Servings: 12 servings
2 (14-ounce) packages fresh fine egg noodles
4 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
1 pound chicken breast, boneless and skinless
2 teaspoons tapioca starch
6 ounce firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly chopped
1 yellow onion, cut in small wedges
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup green beans, chopped into small pieces
1 cup broccoli florets and stems , cut into small pieces
1 king oyster mushroom, diced
1 cup sugar snap peas, halved
1 carrot, shredded, cut about 2-in long
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 teaspoons black bean sauce
4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce, to taste
1-1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons water, as needed, to balance the saltiness of the soy sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
For the noodles:
On a large platter, untangle and separate the noodles. Fill a large pot with water. Bring to a boil. Place the noodles in the boiling water, return the water to a boil then lower the heat to medium-low. That way the pasta is cooked evenly all the way through. Salt the water half way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the noodles and they will be softer) and keep stirring every now and then so the noodles don't stick to the bottom. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. When the noodles are cooked (tender but still in shape and firm), drizzle about 1 tablespoon of canola oil, then drain the noodles. Discard the liquid. Set aside. Set aside.
For the tofu:
Drain any liquid from the tofu. Pat dry with a paper towel. Slice the block of tofu into 1 inch thick pieces. In the same wok, heat the oil and fry the tofu slices and transfer to a plate. Once the tofu is cool enough to handle, cut the pieces into strips. Set aside.
For the chicken:
Pound the chicken breast using a meat tenderizer mallet. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with tapioca starch. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a wok. Place the pieces of chicken in the wok. Make sure that the pieces aren't overlapping so they'll become a nice golden color. Sauté them over high heat. Add the green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a serving plate. Allow to rest for 15 minutes and slice into strips. Set aside.
For the veggies:
Blanch the broccoli for 3-4 minutes in boiling water then transfer into an ice bath. Drain thoroughly, then pat dry on a paper towel. Do not overcook, as the broccoli will continue to cook in the thick sauce later; it should be still tender and crisp or you'll have depleted all the healthy nutrients.
Add a tablespoon of oil in the same wok. When the oil is hot, add a teaspoon of garlic. As the garlic becomes slightly golden, add the shallots. Cook until slightly golden. Add the carrots and diced King mushroom and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. When the color is translucent, season with salt. Add the onion wedges and cook for another minute. Transfer to a plate. Set aside.
Repeat the same procedure for the bell pepper (except the oil,cook for about 2 minutes) Transfer to a plate. Repeat the same procedure for the green beans, sugar snap peas and broccoli. Don't overcook the vegetables as they will continue cooking in the noodles later. Set the plates aside.
In the same wok, add the rest of the oil. Once it's hot, add the chicken and tofu. Add the black bean and chili garlic sauce, sugar and soy sauce. Stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes. Add the cooked noodles. Cut them if necessary with kitchen shears. Add all the vegetables. Add water so that the ingredients don't stick to the bottom of the wok. Stir constantly. Cook for about 3-5 minutes.
Sprinkle black pepper and the cilantro. Drizzle with sesame oil.
Serve immediately. Eat with chopsticks .
The soy sauce brings saltiness to the dish and a nice amber brown color. My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a good flavor and is not too salty. You can find this particular sauce, at Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 S 2nd St, in downtown San Jose. I think this is one of the best "ethnic" grocery stores in the area.
You can find king oyster mushrooms in Asian stores. They are also called abalone mushrooms and have a very meaty texture.
I use these particular vegetables but you can add any other vegetables that are in season such as zucchini, eggplant or shiitake mushrooms.
You can use store-bought black bean and chili garlic sauce like the one from Lee Kum Kee. It's just that every year, my husband grows so many habanero and Thai chiles during the summer. I make batches of chili garlic sauce. You can check for the recipe of the tướng ớt, literally spicy dipping sauce in Vietnamese; it's ultra easy.
Just as in my recipe for crispy noodles (mì xào dòn in Vietnamese), I find egg noodles in the fresh section of Asian stores. Just make sure to pick the thin thread-like noodles.
A fast and easy way to shred carrots is with this wonderful gadget from Messermeister. It's THE best utensil for making julienne.
I absolutely love the Thanh Son tofu brand. If you live in the Bay Area, you have to try it. They sell it in almost all the Asian markets in downtown San Jose, and their main shop is on 2857 Senter Road, San Jose. It's a very little shop but everything is very good. Their factory makes the best tofu texture; it's made fresh daily.
The addition of the sesame oil at the end is the perfect finishing touch to the noodles.
Here are a few tips to guarantee a non-soggy chow mein:
- Always stir-fry the ingredients at the highest setting of the stove (always high heat).
- All the vegetables, chicken and fried tofu strips should be cut the same size for an even cooking.