Monday, September 3, 2007

Chicken Lo Mein

I make no claims that this is authentic lo mein; I don't even know what authentic lo mein would entail. I set out to make a stir fry that included noodles. However, my finished product actually tasted quite a bit like the flavor of the ubiquitous brown sauce that Chinese restaurants use for their lo mein, something I've never quite been able to replicate. Hence, it shall be known as chicken lo mein!

I used our wok to make this. I alternate between being scared of our wok and itching to use it. It's a huge carbon steel monster of a thing that we picked out of the piles and piles of woks in the back of our local 99 Ranch. Sometimes it can be too exhausting to even think about wrangling food in it, but tonight I loved it. Everything does cook quicker in it, and I get a much better flavor with searing than I do in our big, nonstick skillet. Maybe it was the holiday weekend that gave me strength to conquer the wok! If you want to give it a shot sometime, check out the selection of woks at your local Asian grocery store. You can usually buy them for less than $20. Remember to season it before using it to cook; do an internet search for "season a wok" and you'll find a bunch of different methods.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced into half moon shapes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets with the stem cut into coins
8 ounces spaghetti
Soy sauce
Thai fish sauce
Peanut or corn oil
Salt and pepper

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the spaghetti.

While the chicken is still on its cutting board, sprinkle a teaspoon or so of cornstarch on top and season with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken around on the board with a spoon to spread around the cornstarch. Warm a tablespoon of oil in a wok or large, deep sided skillet on high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until it is cooked, about 4 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok and throw in the onion and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft enough to be cut from the pressure of a wooden spoon, about 7 minutes. Add the broccoli, red bell pepper, and mushroom and stir-fry for another 7 minutes, or until the broccoli florets are tender-crisp and the bell pepper is soft. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices back into the wok and stir to combine.

Drain the pasta and start adding it to the wok a little bit at a time, tossing to combine after each addition. Add 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to the wok and stir around. Throw in a slurry of 1 tablespoon corn starch and 1 tablespoon water (chicken broth if you have some handy); stir until the sauce thickens up, about 30 seconds. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

Rating: This is awesome
Fresher, cheaper, and less greasy than the stuff from our local Chinese delivery place!

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