Monday, July 18, 2011

Chicken Lo Mein

Life is crazy for me lately as I have been moving out of my house and staying at my son's apartment in the meantime. And when I get stressed, I go for comfort foods, which for me means the food of my childhood. I mostly ate Chinese food and one of my perennial favorites is fried noodles of any kind. Some days I am partial to pan fried noodles that are crispy to soak up the sauce, but that's for another day. Today, I wanted chewier, softer noodles that are stir fried with vegetables and just a bit of meat - chicken is my favorite. It can also easily become vegetarian if you leave out the meat and oyster sauce and use more soy sauce and a little bit of toasted sesame oil.

Lo Mein is really quite easy to make and as with all Chinese food, the cutting and prepping of the ingredients takes the longest time. Cooking itself is actually really fast and you can do it ahead of time. For Lo Mein, you can use any kind of meat and any kind of vegetables. It's always easier to slice the meat if it is partially frozen. Remember to slice everything just about the same size. I had a large boneless chicken breast, some red pepper, a carrot, some dried Shitake mushrooms and green and yellow onions. As you can see, it turns out to be a colorful dish, which implies a five element balance and the ratio of meat to vegetables makes it a wonderful light summer meal.

Chicken Lo Mein

2 small or 1 large boneless chicken breast, sliced into thin slices about 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long (easier if partially frozen) - can also use beef or pork
1 Tablespoon Shaoshing Rice Wine
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Handful of Pea Pods, strings removed, blanched in boiling water for 4 minutes and drained
1 carrot, slice thin on the diagonal blanched for 4 minutes with pea pods
1/2 cup dried Shitake Mushrooms soaked in hot water, stems cut and sliced thin
1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced thin

Optional: 2 shredded green onions (cut about the same length as pea pods)
Optional: 2 cups Napa Cabbage cut in small pieces
Optional: 2 stalks celery sliced thin
Optional: 1 cup fresh bean sprouts

3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I use high heat Safflower)

1/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

16 oz. package fresh Chinese egg noodles (you can also substitute spaghetti) cooked al dente according to package directions and drained thoroughly.

In a small bowl, stir together, chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce and pepper

Heat a wok (I prefer a flat bottomed wok or you can use a large frying pan) on high heat and add in 2 Tablespoons of oil and heat until a drop of water sizzles. Put in onion pieces and red pepper slices. Stir fry until softened slightly and then add in chicken. Cook chicken without stirring until slightly browned and then turn and stir fry. Then add in pea pods, carrots and mushrooms (and any other vegetable you are using). Stir fry until all vegetables are hot and remove to a platter. (This will not take very long).

Add an additional 1 Tablespoon oil to the wok. Heat until a drop of water sizzles. Put in noodles and stir fry for about 1 - 2 minutes. Add in chicken and vegetable mixture. Pour in sauce mixture over the top and stir fry to coat everything evenly. Add in green onion shreds and remove to a serving platter.

Five Element Analysis

Since this is a one dish meal composed of a protein, carbohydrates and vegetables, so you can be pretty sure that it has an intrinsic balance. But to break it down: the wheat noodles add the Wood Element and so do the chicken and pea pods. The carrot adds the Earth Element. The Shitake Mushrooms, soy sauce and oyster sauce contribute the Water Element. The Shaoshing Rice Wine and Red Pepper bring in the Fire Element and the yellow and green onions cover the Metal Element. So you can see, this is a very balanced meal indeed.

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