If you think of chicken chow mein, healthy is probably not one of the first words you will use to describe this rather infamous ‘Chinese’ dish. I have to admit though that when I first started living in California, curiousity got the better of me and I actually bought chow mein from, of all places – Panda Express. Needless to say, I was not impressed, nevertheless I thought it could be a delicious dish with some tweaks and that was that at the time. Now, a few years later while looking around for easy recipes to use up the one remaining boneless chicken thigh I had, I found Ken Hom’s chicken chow mein and I thought it would be a good idea to replace the usual Chinese egg noodles with some healthier whole wheat spaghetti. The results were very delicious and also almost guilt-free plus easy although do note that cooking this in a Chinese wok is almost vital since this dish really tastes so much better with ‘wok breath’.
The chicken cubes are marinated in some soy sauce, Chinese rice wine and sesame oil. You can use any vegetables of your choice, like spinach, carrots (which I used), beansprouts as your accompaniment. You can also make this dish vegetarian by simply skipping the chicken and if you do that, I would recommend for you to add in some fresh or dried shitake mushrooms for more texture. All in all, a perfect weeknight one-dish meal and a healthier alternative to ‘regular’ chow mein!
Half a box of whole wheat spaghetti (or substitute with other noodles if you wish)
1 boneless chicken thigh, cubed
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
3 stalks green onions, sliced
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsbp Shaoxing Rice Wine
1/4 tsp sugar
Light soy sauce from Yuen Chun
Marinade for the chicken:
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
Dash of white pepper
Firstly, marinade the chicken with the above ingredients. Set aside and allow to marinade as you prepare the other ingredients.
Boil the pasta in some lightly salted water until al-dente. Remove and drain well. Toss with half of the sesame oil. Set aside.
Heat wok till almost smoking hot. Add about 1 tsbp of cooking oil and add in the marinated chicken. Stir fry around for about 1 minute until almost but not quite cooked. Remove from wok and set aside.
Clean the wok. Again with the same wok, heat until almost smoking. Add another 1 tbsp of cooking oil and add garlic and carrots. Turn heat to medium. Stir-fry around until you can smell the aroma of garlic. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Turn heat high again and quickly add the noodles and green onions into the wok. Add in the soy sauce, rice wine, pepper and sugar. Stir around until well mixed. The trick is to add the sauces around the sides of the wok so that the condiments will trickle in and allow for easier mixing in the noodles.
Add back in the chicken earlier and stir fry together with the noodles until well mixed and completely cooked. Add in the rest of the sesame oil, give the noodles a good toss to incorporate well and dish out onto a serving platter.
Serve with extra soy sauce at the table.