Start to Finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Founded on tailoring Chinese tastes for the American palate, American Chinese cuisine is made for adaptation: Substituting rice noodles for egg noodles in chicken chow mein is easy. Rice noodles are a little lighter than egg noodles, but they hold sauce better and retain a pleasant toothsomeness when blanched and added to the dish in the last minute or so of cooking. New York-based food writer and cooking teacher Diana Kuan, author of The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Quick and Easy Dishes to Prepare at Home, masterfully bridges the gap between Chinese and American cuisine with her version of this takeaway classic.
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry (see Cooking Notes)
- 1/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 10 ounces rice noodles
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, hydrated and thinly sliced with stems removed
- 1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, julienned
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
Mix the Shaoxing wine and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce in a bowl and add the chicken. Marinate the chicken for 20 to 30 minutes.
Mix the stock, 1 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce, hoisin sauce and black pepper to make the sauce. Set the sauce aside.
Boil the noodles in salted water until pliable but undercooked, about 30 seconds. Run cold water over the noodles and drain them.
Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and swirl the pan to coat.
Add the chicken. Saute the chicken and cook it long enough to color the outside but not heated all the way through, about 1 minute.
Add the mushrooms, peppers and carrots and cook them until they're crispy tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a plate.
Add the remaining oil to the pan. Add the rice noodles and saute them until golden, about 2 minutes. Slide the noodles to one side of the pan.
Add the sauce to the pan, beside the noodles. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan, on top of the sauce.
Add the scallions, sesame oil and bean sprouts. Stir the ingredients together and cook them for an additional minute. Garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately.
Add 1 teaspoon of chili flakes to the vegetable oil when you start cooking to add a mild spiciness that permeates the dish.
Shaoxing rice wine invests authenticity in Asian dishes. With 17 to 18 percent alcohol and moderate sugar content, Shaoxing wine has a caramellike flavor that doesn't overpower a dish but supports the other flavors in a background role. It's an essential ingredient in Chinese marinades. You can get Shaoxing wine at most Asian markets; if you must substitute, use a manzanilla or amontillado dry sherry.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.