I rarely cook chowmein. It's not because I don't like it but it is one of those dishes that when you do make it, it should be for more than one person. While there are many other dishes that fall into that same category, chowmein is one of those things that I don't particularly like reheated. I prefer it made hot and fresh!
The other thing about eating chowmein is that I prefer to have it from a restaurant. Eaten right there as it comes to the table with smoke still rising from the wok hay.
A couple of weeks ago I had this craving for chowmein. If I were in Guyana I'd know exactly where to go. Though there are many Chinese restaurants here in Barbados, the food leaves a lot to be desired. I am not kidding. I know that people tend to adapt the food to suit the palates of the population, after all, it is about making money. But honestly, does it have to be dumbed-down to the extent that all it becomes is a filler and void of taste?
I went to one of Barbados' newer Chinese restaurants (yes, I have visited the others) hoping to get my chowmein fix. The roast pork was tasty as was the chicken but the noodles did not even have salt! Salt! Don't bother about any other flavor. What was worse for me is that I was not interested in any of the meat, I was there for the noodles!
My dining companions pushed the food around their plates. I couldn't take it anymore and blurted out how tasteless the food was. A collective sigh erupted around the table and then one of my friends said, "Thank God you said it! We didn't want to say anything because we knew how much you really wanted to eat chowmein – we didn't want to spoil it for you by saying anything."
There is this thing about me. I don't know if it is bad. If I crave something and go out to eat it and it ends up disappointing, I get really obsessive about making it, even if it is a distant version of the original thing, just as long as it tastes good. And that is how I ended up cooking this chicken chowmein two days after that awful tasting "thing" from the restaurant.
Guyanese chicken chowmein
Boneless thighs or breasts cut into 2-inch strips (I used bone-in chicken wings)
2 tablespoons Green seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (lighter in color and used for seasoning; contains more salt)
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce (thick, darker in color; sweet)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons grated garlic
If you have some on hand, add some oyster sauce
1-lb of your favorite brand of dried chowmein noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
5 tablespoons oil, divided (2 and 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoon chopped root ginger
Minced hot pepper to taste
2 cups of bora (snake beans)
2 cups julienned carrots
1 heaped teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
3 to 4 whole green onions, cut into 2-inch length pieces
Mix all the ingredients together and let marinate for 1/2 an hour.
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large karahi or any deep wide-mouthed frying pan.
2. Add seasoned chicken, toss and let brown. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and let cook until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid has significantly reduced and thickened. The cooking time will vary depending on the cut of meat (breasts will cook faster than thighs) and if the meat is bone-in. For the wings, I added 1 1/2 cups water. If you are using breast meat, no need to add water.
3. While the chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water to taste, add chowmein and cook according to package instructions. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cool tap water. Drain well.
4. Remove the chicken and whatever thickened sauce is there from the pan and set aside.
5. Wipe pan clean and heat remaining 3 tablespoons of oil on high heat.
6. Add ginger and pepper and fry for 1 minute.
7. Add bora & carrots along with salt and pepper to taste. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.
8. Add chicken and drippings and toss to mix.
9. Add noodles, 5-spice powder, and green onions and toss everything to mix. Let cook together for 3-4 minutes, toss again then serve hot.