Chow Down Some Chicken Chow Mein

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We all love Chinese food and more often than not, rely on restaurants to satisfy our cravings. If I talk about myself, my Chinese experience is never complete without a serving of Chicken Chow Mein; it’s a no-brainer that this is one of the first things I order. This is also one of those things that most restaurants don’t get right.

My wife makes a mean Chow Mein which is universally loved by everyone in our family. If you talk about authenticity, this is a Pakistan-ized version similar to what’s served in restaurants across the country. I often hear people complaining why they are unable to prepare restaurant-style Chow Mein at home; well, here’s her secret. She cooks everything separately and assembles the Chow Mein towards the end; this not only keeps everything from turning into mush, but also gives a distinct flavour profile in every bite.

On those lazy nights when you don’t feel like going out or ordering in, what more could you want than a plate of piping hot stir-fried noodles? So here’s how you can prepare some in the confines of your own kitchen.

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Prep Time: 35 mins

Serves: 3-4 people

Ingredients

  • 300 grams egg noodles (or rice noodles, depending on your preference)
  • 150 grams boneless chicken (cut into 1 cm thin strips)
  • 2 medium-sized carrots (thin 1-inch julienne cut)
  • ½ green bell pepper (julienne cut – if red and yellow bell peppers aren’t available, use 1 green bell pepper)
  • ¼ red bell pepper (julienne cut)
  • ¼ yellow bell pepper (julienne cut)
  • 125 gm cabbage (thinly sliced)
  • 2 spring onions (one inch pieces)
  • 1 medium onion (thickly sliced)
  • 6-7 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 4 tablespoon sesame oil (use vegetable oil if sesame is not available)
  • 6 tablespoon soy sauce with honey-like consistency (if using the watery version, double the quantity)
  • 6-8 tablespoon chili sauce (to taste)
  • 2+1 teaspoon salt (2 teaspoon salt required while boiling noodles)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon chinese salt (Ajino Moto or MSG – optional)
  • A pinch of sesame seeds (for garnish)

Method

  1. Set aside all ingredients before starting to work on this recipe
  2. Boil noodles as per the instructions on the box; add two teaspoon salt during the process
  3. Drain the water and let the noodles cool
  4. In a wok, stir fry all the bell peppers in ½ teaspoon sesame oil for two minutes; take it out in a bowl once done
  5. Next, stir fry the cabbage in ½ teaspoon sesame oil for two minutes; set it aside once done
  6. Stir fry the thickly sliced onion in ½ teaspoon sesame oil for two minutes; set it aside once done
  7. Stir fry the carrots in ½ teaspoon sesame oil for two minutes; set it aside once done
  8. In a sauce pan, add all the remaining sesame oil along with soy sauce, chili sauce, black pepper, chinese salt, salt, chili flakes, and half of the garlic; cook for 3 minutes till the consistency is thick
  9. Once all vegetables have been separately stir-fried, add half of the remaining sesame oil and the garlic in a wok
  10. After a minute, add the chicken and cook for 4-5 mins (or till the chicken is tender) with the lid on
  11. Add in the noodles to the chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes
  12. Add in the stir fried vegetables one by one and mix well
  13. Add the sauce to the noodles and cook for 2 minutes
  14. Finally, add in the spring onions and turn the heat off
  15. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve immediately!

Ciao (or should I say, Chow?)!

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A Bitter Pill

Taking criticism, especially constructive, is a bitter pill to swallow. The key is to remember that while this pill might throw our taste-buds off-balance for a few hours (or even days), it will give us lasting benefits if taken regularly; a home-brew with no side effects.

WeldonMoms’ Chocolate Festival 2011

“Hello Everyone! My name’s Yousuf and I am a Chocoholic. I have been sober for three whole days now, give or take a few hours, but the craving keeps getting worse. Thinking straight seems like a chore. Everywhere I look, I see naked chocolate bars waiting to be devoured. The seats in the bus, the ice cubes in my drink, the brown furniture in my room, everything reminds me of chocolate. Time is a healer, or so I’ve heard people say; but in this particular instance, every second I stay away from it is more painful than the last one. Must…….. have……. chocolate……”

I dread seeing myself like this and that’s the reason I stay away from Chocoholics Anonymous or any other cocoa-abolishing movement for that matter. Interestingly though, there are people who actually celebrate their love for chocolate and support chronic chocoholics like me (we never give up now, do we?); the 3rd Annual WeldonMoms Chocolate Festival 2011 is testimony to such communities. In a rare moment of calmness, the otherwise self-proclaimed tornado named Anila Weldon (founder of WeldonMoms) came up with idea to gather like-minded people in one place and celebrate her love for chocolate, along with all the feelings associated with it. The first two productions were such a huge hit that she just had to do it again; only this time, it’s bigger, better and full of fun activities designed around this brown confectionery.

This year’s festival shall showcase some of the most talented chocolate fans from across Karachi. So to truly make this festival a sight for sore eyes, WeldonMoms has teamed up with students from The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, who’ll be showcasing their passion for the dark side through brilliant works of art including Chocolate Paintings, Chocolate Sculptures, and a Cocoa-Collage; better watch out Picasso!

Apart from being good recreation for the entertainment starved Karachiites, this will be a golden chance for them to Compete in the Chocolate-Challenge™ (yes, it’s trade-marked), with their best cocoa-based creation; Cakes, Desserts, Truffles, Brownies, Mousse, Fondue, Cookies, Muffins, Cup Cakes, Home-made Chocolates are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Since each contest yields prizes for the winners, this one’s no exception.  Celebrity Chefs and Popular Cooking Experts will judge participant entries based on creativity, use of chocolate, presentation and taste, and unleash a hoard of prizes for the winners.

Other attractions at the Festival include special chocolate hand and foot massages, a creative corner for kids to learn the art of making edible crafts (sugar flowers, cup-cake decoration, etc.) and an all-you-can-eat chocolate fountain. If this doesn’t get you drooling, nothing will; it’s one family event you shouldn’t miss for the world!

For further details, please visit the event page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=162204937164065

About WeldonMoms: Targeting the progressive women of Karachi, especially those juggling between career, home-making and motherhood, WeldonMoms® (www.weldonmoms.com) is a support group for mothers, new mothers, and moms-to-be whose aim is to facilitate, empower and support women during the transition to parenthood.

Hope to see you all there!

Cheers,
Yousuf

p.s. Calorie-conscious people and anorexics are strictly not allowed!

Juicy Steak with Stir Fried Vegetables and Potato Wedges

I know it’s been quite some time since I wrote something. Life just seems to drag you into its drama and as we grow old, it gets more and more difficult to get out of it; the post-dramatic stress sets in shortly afterwards. Anyways, this post is more about enjoying the finer things and grabbing life by its horns. Get ready to take charge people because this recipe is sure to get you out of your funk.

Chicken Steak with Stir-fried Vegetables and Potato Wedges

Ingredients for Marinating

½ kg chicken or beef
5-6 tbsp ginger (finely chopped)
1 tbsp green chilies (finely chopped)
1½ tsp salt (or to taste)

Ingredients for Steak Sauce

1 medium onion (finely chopped)
3-4 tbsp BBQ Sauce
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1½ tbsp tomato ketchup
½ tsp mustard sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp white pepper
1 tsp honey
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
4-5 tbsp water

Ingredients for Stir-fried Vegetabes

1 carrot
50 gms peas
½ cabbage
½ zucchini
½ onion
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Any other vegetable you enjoy eating

Ingredients for Garnish

Thick onion slices
Cabbage
Fried Eggs (sunny side up)
Cheese slices
Bread Croutons (deep-fried cubes of bread – OPTIONAL)
Dried Oregano
Potato Wedges (click here for recipe)

Method for Cooking

  1. If using chicken, marinate the meat using the ginger, chilies and salt for at least ½ an hour; for beef, marinate after hammering the beef for 5 to 6 hours
  2. Once marinated, you can either grill the meat using some oil in a grill pan (for people who hate setting up a grill) or flame-grill it (for a more authentic taste) until tender [NOTE: I prefer a very well-done steak so choose a consistency that suits you most]
  3. For the sauce, take some oil in a saucepan and add in the onion
  4. Once the onion turns transparent, put in the rest of the ingredients, followed by the water, and let it cook for 5 minutes [NOTE: A sauce manufactured by different brands may vary in taste, so you might end up having a steak sauce that’s either less spicy or too sour. So here are the adjustments you might need to make according to your taste – to spice it up, add some chili/tabasco sauce, and to decrease the sourness, add some tomato ketchup]
  5. Take a little oil in a pan and put in all your vegetables (the hard ones first, the soft ones a bit later)
  6. Season the vegetables using some salt and pepper and take them off the flame

Method for Assembling

  1. Heat the sizzle pans; if you don’t have sizzle pans for individual servings, you can use a regular pan and assemble everything in it [NOTE: Be very careful while handling a sizzle pan]
  2. Once hot, put in a dash of oil, some onion slices and some cabbage leaves onto it
  3. Put the cooked steak right in the center of the pan
  4. Generously pour the steak sauce over it
  5. Put some stir-fried vegetables on one side and the potato wedges on the other
  6. Add a cheese slice on top of the steak and sprinkle some oregano
  7. Finish it off with the fried egg (sunny side up)

Enjoy and do remember me when you steal all the credit!

Ciao,
Yousuf