Chicken Chow Mein

Chicken Chow Mein Gam’s Hey Fat Choi
Lately, I’ve had Chinese food on the brain. The reason is obvious—it happens every year at the start of Chinese New Year.

In honor of the Year of The Ram, and because my family likes it, I have been cooking more meals with an Asian flavor. I’ve never been that good an Asian cook, but I think I’m getting better. I made a Bok Choy Stir Fry the other night and managed to not burn the garlic.

My grandmother, a.k.a. Gam, was my Chinese Food Ambassador when I was a kid. She loved Chinese food but she rarely ordered take out. She usually made it herself. She had a collection of Chinese Cookbooks and old pages from Chinese cooking classes that she had taken over the years. When she passed away, I inherited them. (Okay. inherited might be a strong word. I packed them in a box with her wok, clay pot, bamboo steamer and chop sticks and got them to my house before my sister figured out what was happening. She got the purple water goblets. We’re even.)

I have clear memories from my childhood of Gam, and her wok, and her super-long chopsticks that she always used—whether she was cooking Chinese or not. Because Gam taught my sister and me to cook with her chopsticks, I can eat at a Chinese restaurant without fear of looking like a fool…or worse, asking for a fork. (Gasp!)

In honor of the New Year and Gam’s love of the cuisine, I give you Gam’s recipe for Chicken Chow Mein from her cookbook called Chopsticks, Cleaver and Wok by Jennie Low. You can make this recipe with pan fried noodles (Hong Kong Style) or fresh cooked Chow Mein noodles. The crispy version is listed here but it’s easy to swap for the softer version. (Just don’t pan fry the noodles.) I have also listed Gam’s notes from the pages so you can see her interpretation.

Chicken Chow Mein (Gai Chow Mein)
From Chopsticks, Cleaver and Wok by Jennie Low
Serves 6

For the Pan-Fried Noodles
1 pound fresh noodles
6 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
dash of salt

1 whole chicken breast (approx.12 ozs.)
3/4 pound cabbage, shredded
1 small can sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 C. water

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon thin soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch                                                                                                                                                                                              dash of pepper

2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 ½ Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce

For the Noodles

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add 1/3 of the noodles and cook for 2 minutes. (If you use dried noodles, cook them for 5 minutes.) While noodles are boiling, heat the frying pan and add 2 tablespoons of oil.

Remove noodles from water, drain well, and immediately put noodles in hot frying pan, adding 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce and mixing thoroughly; then flatten them to form a large pancake. Pan-fry for 5 minutes over low to medium heat; turn noodles, sprinkle them with a little salt and pan-fry the other side for 5 minutes.

Repeat step 1 with each of the remaining portions of noodles.

Break each noodle pancake into about 10 parts and set aside.

Skin and bone chicken; cut into 1 1/2 inch x 1/2 pieces. Add “seasoning” and mix well.

Heat wok, add 1 tablespoon oil, and stir-fry cabbage and mushrooms for 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Re-heat wok, add 1 tablespoon oil, and stir-fry chicken for 3 minutes; add water, cover, and cook for 3 minutes or more.

Mix together the thickening ingredients and add to the wok along with cabbage mixture. Cook for 1 minute.

Remove one-half of the mixture and add one-half of the noodles. Mix thoroughly (approximately 3 minutes) and set aside. Place the remaining noodles and chicken mixture in the wok, mixing for approximately 3 minutes. Then add to the mixture which was previously set aside, and serve.

Gam’s Notes
1. Marinated 1 chicken breast in half of the seasonings.
2. Stir-Fried onion and celery in garlic-ginger oil.
3. Stir-fried a good amount of bean sprouts.
4. Stir-fried 4-5 sliced mushrooms (wipe wok)
5. Stir-fried chicken cut into thin strips with a dash of water and steamed a little.
6. 3/4 cup stock with light soy, oyster sauce & starch.
7. Heated stock alone in wok.
8. Warmed noodles (already cooked)
9. Put on platter
10. Pour chicken and veggie mix over noodles.

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