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Chicken Chow Mein: A Classic Chinese Stir-Fried Noodle Dish

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Chicken Chow Mein is a popular and flavorful Chinese dish known for its stir-fried noodles, tender chicken, and crisp vegetables. Originating from Cantonese cuisine, Chow Mein translates to “stir-fried noodles” and is enjoyed both in China and around the world for its savory taste and versatility. This recipe will guide you through preparing Chicken Chow Mein at home, ensuring a delicious meal that’s perfect for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients

For the Chow Mein Noodles:

  • 250g (9 oz) fresh or dried Chow Mein noodles (or substitute with egg noodles)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 300g (10 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

For the Chow Mein Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (for color, optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or water

For Stir-Frying:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 spring onions, cut into 2-inch sections
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

For Garnish:

  • Fresh cilantro or chopped spring onions (optional)

Instructions

1. Prepare the Noodles and Chicken

  1. Cook Noodles: Cook Chow Mein noodles according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Toss with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  2. Marinate Chicken: In a bowl, combine thinly sliced chicken with soy sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil, sugar, and white pepper. Mix well and let it marinate for 15-20 minutes.

2. Prepare the Chow Mein Sauce

  1. Mix Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce (if using), Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, sugar, and chicken broth or water. Set aside.

3. Stir-Fry Chicken and Vegetables

  1. Heat Oil: Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook Chicken: Add marinated chicken to the wok in a single layer. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until chicken is cooked through and lightly browned. Remove chicken from the wok and set aside.
  3. Stir-Fry Aromatics and Vegetables: In the same wok, heat another tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add minced garlic and thinly sliced ginger, stir-frying for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add sliced onion, julienned carrot, and thinly sliced red bell pepper. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are tender-crisp.
  4. Add Cabbage and Bean Sprouts: Add thinly sliced cabbage and bean sprouts to the wok. Stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes until cabbage is wilted and bean sprouts are tender.

4. Combine and Stir-Fry with Noodles

  1. Add Noodles and Sauce: Add cooked Chow Mein noodles and prepared sauce to the wok. Toss everything together gently to combine.
  2. Stir-Fry: Return cooked chicken to the wok. Stir-fry everything together for 2-3 minutes until the noodles are heated through and evenly coated with the sauce. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

5. Serve

  1. Garnish: Garnish Chicken Chow Mein with fresh cilantro or chopped spring onions if desired.
  2. Serve Hot: Serve Chicken Chow Mein immediately while hot. Enjoy this delicious stir-fried noodle dish on its own or with a side of steamed vegetables.

Tips for Success

  1. Noodle Texture: Cook noodles until al dente to prevent them from becoming mushy during stir-frying.
  2. Even Cooking: Stir-fry ingredients in batches if needed to ensure even cooking and avoid overcrowding the wok.
  3. Customization: Feel free to add or substitute vegetables according to your preference, such as mushrooms, snow peas, or bok choy.
  4. Sauce Consistency: Adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding more chicken broth or water if it’s too thick, or more cornstarch slurry (cornstarch mixed with water) if it’s too thin.
  5. Vegetarian Option: Omit chicken and use tofu or additional vegetables for a vegetarian Chow Mein.

Variations

  • Shrimp Chow Mein: Substitute chicken with shrimp for a seafood version of this dish.
  • Spicy Chow Mein: Add a teaspoon of chili paste or Sriracha sauce to the sauce mixture for a spicy kick.
  • Cantonese Style: Use a combination of light and dark soy sauce for a richer color and flavor.

Conclusion

Chicken Chow Mein is a beloved Chinese dish that combines savory stir-fried noodles with tender chicken and crisp vegetables, all coated in a delicious sauce. By following this recipe, you can recreate the authentic flavors of Chow Mein at home, perfecting the art of stir-frying and creating a satisfying meal for yourself and your loved ones. Enjoy the versatility and deliciousness of Chicken Chow Mein as a main course or hearty lunch, and savor the rich flavors that make this dish a classic in Chinese cuisine.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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