I love Chinese food and find canned chow mein so very boring. It needs more zip, more meat, and just more everything in general. I’ve found it’s much more flavorful to buy cans of the chow mein vegetables and add my own meat and sauce. Served over rice or crispy chow mein noodles, it’s a dinner that satisfies us here at the castle. It’s one of our comfort foods!
I usually have a few cans of Chinese vegetables, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots in my pantry for fast stir fry meals. Add to that some hoisin and soy sauce from the fridge, some chicken (or even beef or shrimp) and dinner can be served in under 20 minutes. Well ok, 20 minutes since it takes the rice that long to cook. So 25 minutes, tops!
I start my rice to cooking first. I usually cook up two cups of raw long grain rice at a time since my P.S. likes leftover rice. He heats it with some milk and cinnamon for breakfasts. It’s his shortcut rice pudding.
Rice started, I cut up a bell pepper and an onion into large chunks and stir fry it in some oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat to begin. Not a huge fan of green peppers, sometimes I use a colored one instead. This time I only had green on hand.
When the peppers and onions begin to show brown in places I add the chicken and sauté it 3 or 4 more minutes. It’s not necessary to fully cook the chicken, just until most of the pink is gone. It’s going to have additional cooking with the broth and then the vegetables and we don’t want it to end up rubbery!
I pour in the broth, the hoisin sauce, the soy sauce and add the garlic powder. If I have minced garlic on hand I might add that to the skillet while I’m frying the chicken. Which garlic you use is your choice. I let the broth come to a bubble while I open up the cans of Chinese vegetables. I like my vegetables to include those little cobs of corn, they’re my favorite!
The vegetables are added and again I let the mixture come to a bubbling boil as I stir the cornstarch into the water. I add it to the skillet, stirring well to prevent lumps and bring the skillet to a bubble one last time. I taste test for seasoning and add more soy or maybe a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for a little bite of heat and the chow mein is ready.
By this time the rice is cooked and sitting covered on the stove, waiting. I serve a good portion of rice on each plate and cover it with the chow mein mixture. We like rice with the dish but have also had it served over chow mein noodles or rice noodles. Dinner varies depending on what you have on hand sometimes!
The chow mein is so flavorful and as I said earlier, much more pleasing than the canned variety. The chicken version is my favorite but it’s also good with beef (substituting beef broth) and shrimp (using chicken or vegetable broth). Using a vegetable broth, you could also make it vegetarian and use tofu.
Chicken Chow Mein with Hoisin Sauce
1 green bell pepper; large dice
1 white onion; large dice
generous drizzle of oil
1# chicken breast; cut into chunks
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts
8 ounce can bamboo shoots
28 ounce can stir fry vegetables
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed in 1/2 cup cold water
White rice prepared according to package directions
Prepare white rice according to directions before beginning the chow mein.
Sauté green pepper and onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes until beginning to brown in places but still firm.
Add chicken and sauté for 2-3 more minutes until chicken has lost most of its pink color. It will further cook in the broth, it doesn’t have to be fully cooked now.
Add broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and garlic powder. Cook until broth is bubbling. Add vegetables and heat through again to bubbling.
Mix together cornstarch and water and stir into skillet mixture. Bring to a bubbling boil again. Taste for seasoning, adding more soy to taste.
Serve hot over prepared rice.