Strictly speaking, that is chicken lo mein in the photo. Not chow mein but lo mein.
Although both lo mein and chow mein refer to noodle dishes with stir fried meat or seafood and vegetables, there is one distinct difference between the two and it is NOT the crispiness of the noodles. When cooking chow mein, the noodles are fried separately albeit not necessarily to a crisp but simply to coat it with oil and give it better texture. The frying stage is skipped when making lo mein. It’s not exactly a need-to-know thing in order to cook a great Chinese-style noodle dish but it is something useful when ordering noodles in a Chinese restaurant just so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Egg noodles are traditional for both lo mein and chow mein. I used a variety that has spinach in them just in case you’re wondering about the greenish tinge.
Chicken Lo Mein (No, This Is Not Chow Mein)
- 6 to 8 chicken thigh fillets cut into 1/2-inch strips
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 4 to 5 portions dried egg noodles (dried egg noodles come in “rolls” and a roll is usually good for a single serving)
- 1/2 head garlic peeled and minced
- 1 onion peeled and finely sliced
- head wom bok (napa cabbage)
- 1 carrot peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup green onion leaves cut into 1-inch lengths
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar to balance the saltiness
- drizzle drizzle of sesame seed oil
- Season the chicken strips with salt and pepper.
- Cook the noodles until soft but not soggy, about 4 minutes. Drain, plunge in iced water and drain again.
- Use the upper half of the cabbage leaves only; reserve the lower half for other use. Slice the leaves crosswise, about an inch wide.
- Heat the cooking oil until it starts to smoke. Stir fry the chicken until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sliced onion. Stir fry for about a minute then add the carrot slices. Stir fry for another minute. Add the cabbage and onion leaves, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for two more minutes.
- Pour in the oyster sauce and the sugar. Stir well. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Remember that you will be adding the noodles which will require seasoning too so make allowances.
- Add the noodles, toss and stir to coat the noodles with the sauce and oil. Turn off the heat, drizzle with sesame seed oil and toss a few more times.
- Serve the chicken lo mein immediately.