This is a classic takeaway dish and a classic Chinese snack – Chow mein in Mandarin Chinese is pronounced ‘Chao meean’ and it means ‘stir-noodle’, i.e. stir-fried noodle.
I love this simple dish with plenty of fresh crunchy vegetables and the usual Chinese condiments of light soy sauce and toasted sesame oil – but the trick to getting a good-quality chow mein is in the quality of the noodle used. I use shi wheat flour noodles – ‘shi’ means ‘thin’ and whether yellow shi or white – they are easy to cook, 3 minutes in boiling water. Then all the ingredients go into a wok – couldn’t be easier or healthier!
Cook the noodles for 3 minutes in a pan of boiling water until al dente or as per the packet instructions. Drain, then run them under cold running water and drain again. Drizzle with a few splashes of sesame oil and toss through to prevent them from sticking.
Season the chicken with a splash of dark soy sauce, the five-spice powder and chilli sauce, if using, mix well. Coat lightly with the cornflour.
Heat a wok over a high heat, add the groundnut oil and heat until smoking, then add the chicken and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes until cooked.
Add the red pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the bean sprouts and spring onion and stir-fry for less than 1 minute. Add the cooked noodles and season with the light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and ground black pepper. Stir well and serve immediately.
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