Chicken Chow Mein is a trademark main course dish of the Chinese cuisine. Most often, a Chinese meal is said to be incomplete without the presence of this stir fried noodles dish which uses chicken as the chief element. There are numerous varieties and recipes of the chicken chow mein depending upon regional influences, tastes and preferences. It may be eaten as such or along with some spicy sauce-based meat or vegetable preparations.
This is in fact a classic takeaway dish and a standard Chinese snack item. Chow mein in Mandarin Chinese is pronounced as 'Chao meean’ and it basically means 'stir-noodle' or stir-fried noodle.
The basic chicken chow mein requires cubed and cooked chicken, sliced fresh celery, olive oil/vegetable oil, bean sprouts, mushroom, sliced water chestnuts, slurry of cornstarch, condensed chicken broth, soy sauce, hot and freshly prepared egg noodles.
The egg flavoured noodles are cooked for a few minutes in a saucepan of boiling salt water until ‘al dente’ i.e. just done or as per package instructions. They are drained, then placed under cold running water, and drained again. These are finally drizzled with splashes of sesame oil, and tossed through in order to prevent them from sticking.
In a large pan, celery is first sautéed in little heated oil until crisp, yet tender. Bean sprouts are added along with mushrooms, sliced water chestnuts, and finally chicken. These are stir-fried together.
In a bowl, the cornstarch slurry with water is prepared. The chicken broth and soy sauce are added to this. After thoroughly blending together, this liquid mixture is poured over the stir-fried chicken and vegetables and brought to a slow boil as the sauce thickens. The dish is covered and allowed to simmer for few more minutes before serving over hot, chow mein noodles. Alternatively, the prepared noodles may be added into the chicken-vegetable sauce and mixed well to serve.
A serving size of about 365 g of Chicken Chow Mein provides-
• Total of 400.6 calories with 45 calories from fat
• Total fat content of 5.4 g with 1.2 g of saturated fat
• Cholesterol content of 50.4 mg
• Sodium content of 1550 mg
• Total carbohydrate content of 65.3 g with 8.5 g sugar and dietary fibre content of 4.7 g with the remainder being other carbohydrate components
• Protein content of 23.0 g
• Based on % daily values- 10 % Vitamin A, 10 % Vitamin C, 6 % calcium and 60 % iron.
Chicken chow mein, based on the manner of preparation, can be made into a healthy, high protein, low fat, complex carbohydrate rich dish. Overall, it is low in fat and high in iron content. High sodium content is a deterrent which needs to be addressed.
1. Low Sodium soy sauce may be used to provide the same authentic taste to the dish while delivering lesser amount of sodium.
2. Some crushed peanuts may be added for crunch and for added Vitamin E and protein with unsaturated healthy fats and plenty of mineral increments.
3. Addition of plenty of fresh sliced garlic provides natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, fights infections, aids in wound healing. Garlic lowers blood pressure, improves circulation and is associated with healthy heart and arteries. It also provides protection from certain types of cancer.
4. Snow peas may be a fresh, crispy and crunchy addition to the Chicken Chow Mein as they are rich in carbohydrates, fibre, protein, healthy fats, vitamins A and C, folic acid, iron, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. These nutrient combinations have the ability to prevent and relieve symptoms associated with cancers, inflammatory disorders, eye diseases and digestive issues in a natural manner.