I have a lot of Asian cookbooks in my collections, but I rarely cook Asian-inspired cuisine. Most of these cookbooks were purchased during a time in my life when I was dating a man of Chinese descent. Many of them have sat untouched on my bookshelves since we broke up more than nine years ago. All the more reason to start with this particular genre.
Today’s recipe is Saucy Chicken Lo Mein from A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds. I chose this recipe because of it’s child-friendly potential. My 4-year-old son is a fairly adventurous eater, but it still requires a bit of bribery when he’s asked to try new things. This recipe lent itself nicely to the familiar. I did make one omission and one substitution to make it more palatable for the whole family.
You’re given the option of leeks or garlic chives – I chose leeks (easier to find in my local grocery store)
The recipe calls for Chinese black mushrooms, but I couldn’t find any so I omitted them, Additionally, I substituted broccoli (my son’s favorite vegetable) for the bean sprouts that the recipe calls for (I figured they both have an earthy flavor, and my family prefers the former, so why not?).
Also, I no longer own a wok, so I used my All-Clad Chef’s Pan instead. It was a fair substitution.
I also used whole-wheat linguine to increase the health benefits.
Overall, I’d say it was a success. Both my son and husband thoroughly enjoyed the flavors, and it made enough to feed an army. I think I’ll try at least one more recipe from this book before I decide whether it stays or goes.
Saucy Chicken Lo Mein
1 pound boned chicken breast, skin removed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
8 dried Chinese black mushrooms, softened in hot water for 20 minutes
2 leeks or 1/3 pound garlic chives, cleaned and ends trimmed
1/2 pound Chinese flour-and-water noodles or linguine
3 1/2 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
3 tablespons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
7 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and lightly drained (I used broccoli)
1. Lay the chicken breast meat flat on a cutting board. Holding the blade of your knife at a low slant to the board, cut the chicken into thin slices, then cut the slices into matchstick-size shreds; place them in a bowl. Add the Garlic Marinade and toss lightly with your hands to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Remove and discard the stems from the black mushrooms (if using) and cut the caps into very thin shreds. Cut the leeks into thin julienne slices about 1 1/2 inches long. If using garlic chives, trim the ends and cut into 1-inch lengths.
3. Bring 3-quarts of water to a boil, add the noodles, and cook about 10 to 12 minutes, until near tender; drain in a colander, rinse slightly to remove the starch, and drain again thoroughly with a colander.
4. Heat a wok or large skillet, add 2 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, and heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the chicken shreds and toss lightly over high heat until they change color and separate. Remove with a handled strainer or slotted spoon and drain. Clean out the pan.
5. Reheat the pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, heat about 20 seconds, and add the ginger, garlic and black mushrooms (if using). Stir-fry over high heat about 15 seconds, then add the leeks or garlic chives. Stir-fry over high heat briefly, then add the rice wine or sake, and cook about 1 minute, then add the pre-mixed Sauce and cook, stirring continuously to prevent lumps, until it thickens. Add the cooked noodles and chicken, then the bean sprouts (I added the broccoli with the leeks), and toss lightly to heat and combine the ingredients. Spoon the chicken lo mein onto a serving platter and serve immediately.