Being next door neighbour to China, Pakistan was among the first few countries to get acquainted with Chinese cuisine. In the 80s, the rage for Chinese food took my city (Lahore) by storm. Suddenly Chinese restaurants and takeaways mushroomed in every little neighbourhood marketplace. Ladies went all crazy doing courses in Chinese cooking and collecting recipes.
As a child, I also grew up visiting Chinese restaurants with my parents at weekends and my first choice used to be chicken Chow Mein. I always found the juicy chunks of chicken and the slippery, saucy noodles a real treat. These Pakistani restaurants tried to make the taste more palatable for local customers by adding lots of hot sauce and even ketchup to the noodles. This version became so popular that now it has a name of its own in the western world…Pakistani Chinese food 🙂
International cuisine has come a long way in Pakistan now; with Lebanese, Mexican, French,Thai and Japanese food being easily available in big cities, people’s palates have adapted to culinary tastes very different from their own.
This is a recipe from my heart of a dish I’ve always loved ; because I believe that music, dance, sculpture, painting and cooking are forms of artistic expression that know no geographical bounds or language hurdles 🙂 if you have the passion, you can create it !
For Chicken Chow Mein :
1 packet ChowMein noodles/ egg noodles
1/2 kg boneless chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, cut on the diagonal
1 green capsicum, cut on the diagonal
1 stalk spring onion, cut on the diagonal
Juice of 3 lemons
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons dark soya sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon corn flour
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil for stir fry
This Is What You Do :
Boil water in a large pan, add noodles. Cook till noodles are just tender but still firm. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with a dash of sesame oil. Prepare chicken and vegetables. Mix sugar, lemon juice, soya sauce, oyster sauce ,fish sauce and corn flour in a bowl. Heat vegetable oil in a wok on medium high, add garlic,ginger and stir fry a few seconds( don’t let it turn brown). Add chicken and continue to stir fry till the chicken is half done. You have to move really quickly adding and stirring things. Add cabbage, carrots and capsicum, add the sauces mixture, stir fry till the chicken is done but don’t over do it or the vegetables will wilt. Add noodles, stir fry. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to loosen things up. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Add red chilli flakes for an extra kick. Enjoy !
Use pair of tongs to stir and mix Chow Mein noodles instead of spoons and spatulas, they make it easier to handle.