Chinese is hands down my favourite takeaway cuisine. The cross-section of fabulously fresh flavours available; sweet, sour, salty, spicy are all a dream for a real ‘foodie’ like me. Whilst I love dim sum and sweet and sour pork, my absolute favourite Chinese takeaway dish has to be chow mein, especially the day after a big night. Oodles of noodles are just what I need to soak up any residual alcohol in my system and the fact that I can have carbs, meat and veg all in one dish is a win – the need for a knife is a no-no on a feeling-sorry-for-myself Saturday afternoon.
Getting a takeaway every weekend can be costly though, especially if I’m ordering for one because my boyfriend’s decided he wants a pizza again (pah!). There’s no way I’m ordering £10 worth of Chinese for myself just to make the delivery fee (although we all know I could eat that much). I’d rather see the extra £5 go on a makeup or towards something other than my belly. Instead, I’ve learnt to make chow mein for myself! It’s cheaper, much quicker than waiting for the delivery guy and I don’t have to wait until 5.30pm when the Chinese place opens to curb my cravings. Here’s how to DIY:
This is one of those great recipes where, once you’ve bought the inexpensive Chinese sauces once, you’ll have enough to make this and plenty of other Chinese dishes over and over in the future.
Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients (serves 2)
300g fresh egg noodles (though dry ones are fine too)
150g beansprouts (if you wanna cut calories use more beanspouts, less noodles)
4 tbspn dark soy sauce
4 tbspn light soy sauce
3 tbspn sesame oil
Large pinch of sugar
2 spring onions
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 a red pepper
1/2 a medium chilli
(Meat/Seafood – Optional)
If you’d like chicken chow mein, go ahead and cook your meat first, ready to be reheated with the noodles during the cooking process. I like to dice a chicken breast and simply stir fry it with a little soy sauce for flavour. For prawn chow mein, as it’s inadvisable to reheat seafood, fry your prawns just before you cook your noodles, cover them with a lid to stay warm and add to the noodles at the end.
1. Prep Veggies (Optional)
Some Chinese takeaways seem to skip veg but a little colour makes me feel like I’m doing my body good. Fresh veggies also add extra flavour and crunch to the dish. I like to slice the spring onions tips, pepper and chilli lengthways so that they swirl together with the noodles and lace every mouthful. The spring onion bulbs and garlic I just dice finely.
2. Noodles (If you settled on dry noodles, cook them according to the packet instructions for just half the time stated and then continue with this step – this will keep them from overcooking and going mushy.)
Put your wok on high heat and pour in your sesame oil. Keep an eye on this – if it overheats it’s a fire hazard. You’ll know that your wok is ready for the noodles when you drop in a noodle and the oil sizzles and bubbles. Once this happens, turn your heat down to medium and add your noodles and beansprouts.
3. Flavour Add your soy sauces (light for flavour, dark for colour and richness) and oyster sauce, tossing the noodles (I like to use two forks as tongs to do this so I can grab them better) to thoroughly coat them with each in between spoonfuls. Add your pinch of sugar here – it may seem odd but sugar is used in a lot of Chinese dishes and rounds out all of that salty soy sauce nicely.
4. Cook Further Cook your chow mein for a further 3 minutes. Tossing occasionally to stop the noodles from sticking to the wok.
5. Add Your Extras Finally, add your veggies and cook for another minute. If you prefer your vegetables very soft, you can add them earlier but I like the red pepper to stay a bit crunchy for texture so one minute is perfect for that. If you’re making chicken chow mein, add your cooked chicken to the wok now to reheat with the noodles.
And serve! I like to enjoy mine with chopsticks for an authentic experience (and not at all just because it’s really fun and I like showing off…).
I hope that you find this useful! I’m so happy not to have to suffer the, ‘do I / don’t I?’ dilemma of whether to order a takeaway any more… If I plan on going out, I just pick up some noodles and beansprouts from my local Tesco and I know I’m only ever 10 minutes away from a delicious DIY chow mein at half the price – woohoo!
Since this recipe makes two servings, you can put half in a container and freeze it, ready to defrost in the microwave the next time cravings call – happy days! It saves sooo much money in the long run too. Imagine if you could save £5 on takeaways every week whilst still getting to enjoy delicious Chinese food. By the end of the year that’s over £250 you could use to treat yourself or add to your savings. Food for thought…
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x Jade Mercedes Fraser x