Recipe: Pakistani Style Chicken Chow Mein
In Pakistan, we love Chinese food. Desi style Chinese food, that is. It can’t be bland, yet it must carry the aroma of soy sauce and sesame oil just so it can pretend to be Asian.
We have tried a variety of chow mein recipes, but somehow they don’t meet all our requirements: spicy, flavorsome, right balance of vegetables and noodles, wagera wagera.
So here you have it, our version of chow mein which hopefully ticks all the right boxes.
1 packet egg noodles
2 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. ginger garlic paste (us desis simply do not cook without ginger garlic)
2 whole green chilies
1 onion, thickly sliced
2 large carrots, julienned
One head of cabbage, finely sliced
1 capsicum, thinly sliced
Spring onions, sliced 2 inches wide
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 tsp. red chili flakes
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. tomato ketchup
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tbsp. red chili sauce
½ tsp. sesame oil
1 chicken stock cube (optional)
½ kg boneless chicken fillets, sliced thinly
1 tsp. ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. chili sauce
1 heaped tbsp. cornflour
Marinate chicken with all its ingredients for 30 minutes. Then shallow fry and keep aside.
*You don’t have to follow this step. You may simply stir fry the chicken in a little oil with gg paste, salt and pepper before proceeding with the recipe. However, the marinade results in a more tender chicken and the egg + cornflour give it nice crispy exterior*
Boil noodles according to the directions on the packet, drain and rinse well. Rinsing will make sure that all excess starch is removed from the noodles so they remain nice and separate during the cooking process.
In a wok, heat oil and ginger garlic paste. Add green chilies, onions, carrots and cabbage. Stir fry for a minute or so and then add the capsicum.
Keep the flame on medium-high; we want the vegetables to still be crispy when we’re done.
Sauté for one minute and add your seasonings and sauces: soy sauce, chili sauce, ketchup, oyster sauce, salt, pepper, red chilli flakes and chicken stock cube. Add some water if the mixture looks too dry.
Stir until your stock cube is dissolved. Now add the cooked chicken and noodles.
Toss the noodles with the seasoned vegetables until thoroughly coated with the sauce.
*After the noodles are added, there should not be excess sauce in the wok. If there is, then toss the noodles on high flame until it evaporates*
Add the green onions and a few drops of sesame oil. Remove from heat.
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds (optional).
One thing to keep in mind is that chow mein is very versatile. You may add beef or prawns instead of chicken; add baby corn, red peppers, broccoli, bean sprouts, etc. If you prefer to play around with sauces, go ahead and try these: hoisin sauce, sriracha or chili oil.