Chow Mein literally translates to ‘Fry Noodles’ and it is one of the most popular types of food in Southeast China, in fact, in most southeast Asian countries. Different country or even different region has its own style and flavour. Some use wheat noodles (most common) and some use rice noodle. Thick noodles, thin noodles, crispy or saucy, with meat or vegetarian, spicy or umami. It is amazingly versatile that one can make up one’s own version easily, and guarantee with big flavour. The key is to prepare all ingredients before the actual cooking, because once you start cooking, it will take merely minutes to finish.
The best equipment to use is steel wok or cast iron wok, because it keeps the heat well within so the food will be cooked evenly and deliciously in a short period of time. I don’t have neither but a non-stick wok works fine as well. Remember to keep the stove on high/medium high at all time, so you will need to pay attention while you are cooking to make sure nothing is burnt.
In this recipe, I suggest to cook some of the Pak Choi (in halves) separately, and serve them on the side, it is because a crunchy piece of Pak Choi is not only a delight to bite into, it also gives the whole dish a little more texture. But if you want to save time and don’t bother with the extra step, it is absolutely fine to slice all the Pak Choi in one go.
The Chinese sausage definitely adds in extra umami and texture to the dish, but omit it if you want to keep it meat free.
serves 2 generously with leftover (or for 3)
- 220g noodles (I use gluten free spaghetti)(or any Chinese egg noodles for stir fry)
- 250g black tiger prawn, preferable wild caught, peeled and deveined
- 1 Chinese wind-dried sausage, chopped (crosswise) into small disks
- 300g mini Pak Choi, separated – halved 3-4 heads and roughly slice the rest
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- 1-2 stalked spring onions, chopped
- 1.5 Tbsp. fermented chilli bean sauce (Asian store)
- 1 Tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce), plus more to taste
- 1 tsp. dark soy sauce (optional)
- 2 tsp. sesame oil (plus more)
Cook the noodles according to package instruction, drained and add a splash of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking, keep warm and set aside.
Combine the chilli bean sauce and tamari in a small bowl, mixed well.
Heat 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a wok, or heavy-bottomed frying pan, add Pak Choi (the halved ones) in the hot pan, cut side down. Pan fry for a minute or 2 or until the vegetable charred and started to get translucent. Transfer the Pak Choi onto a plate and set aside.
Add another 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil in the same wok, add Chinese sausages and fry for a minute or so or until they are crispy and released most of their oil. Transfer the sausages to a bowl with a slotted spoon and leave the oil in the wok.
Place the wok back on the heat and add the carrot and the sliced Pak Choi and stir-fry them for 1 minute, add a small pinch of salt and transfer them to a separate plate and set aside.
No need to wash the wok, add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil into the wok, when hot, add the spring onion and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the prawns and fry until they are slightly opaque. Now add 3/4 of chilli bean/tamari blend, stir until all prawns are coated with the sauce. Add noodles next, use a tong or chopsticks and a spatula (I use the latter) constantly stir and toss the noodles so that they are also combined well with the sauce. Add the dark soy sauce if use, stir again. Return the carrot and Pak Choi mix to the wok and then the the rest of the chilli bean sauce blend. Again, constantly stir-fry until everything is sizzling and combine well. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Remove the wok from heat and divide the noodles into warm bowls and served with the pan-fried Pak Choi (the halved ones).