Eric Akis: A saucy, veggie-filled chow mein

Eric Akis

Readers occasionally ask if I can create a recipe for a dish they tried while dining out. I oblige them when I can. A reader named Tom, who lives in Chemainus, wondered if I could create a recipe for the Chinese-style noodle dish he enjoyed at a mall food court.

It’s a stir-fried noodle dish, often called chow mein, where par-cooked, Chinese-style egg noodles are heated in hot oil until pleasingly smoky tasting, flavoured with a soy-sauce mixture and mixed with vegetables.

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I would call my version deluxe, because I added a generous amount of vegetables and richly infused the soy-sauce mixture with hot chili sauce and rice cooking wine.

I also added some sliced Chinese-style barbecued pork, which you can buy cooked and ready to use at stores in Victoria’s Chinatown. Some grocery stores also sell it (see recipe for details).

A large wok or very large skillet is the best cooking vessel for making my noodle dish. It will offer a wide, hot surface for the foods to be moved around and rapidly cooked.

Because things cook quickly, make sure you have all ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start.

Also make sure you heat the pan and cooking oil before you add the ingredients. If you don’t, foods meant to cook quickly won’t and might steam and become limp and soggy by the time they are ready.

Stir-fried Noodles with Vegetables and Pork

Fresh, Chinese-style egg noodles are par-cooked, then stir-fried in a hot wok or skillet with a range of flavour-enhancing ingredients.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: About 10 minutes

Makes: three to four servings

1 (454-gram) bag fresh, thin Chinese-style egg noodles (see Note 1)

2 to 3 tsp sesame oil

3 Tbsp regular soy sauce (I used Kikkoman brand)

1 1/2 Tbsp dark soy sauce (see Note 2)

1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice cooking wine or dry sherry (see Note 2)

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp hot chili sauce, such as sriracha, or to taste

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock

3 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil

10 to 12 snow pea pods, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch strips

1 small red bell pepper, cut into two-inch strips

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips

1 cup (about 175 grams) thinly sliced Chinese-style barbecued pork (see Eric’s options)

2 cups bean sprouts

3 green onions, cut into thin 2-inch strips

Bring a large pot of water a boil. Add the noodles, return to a boil and cook until just tender, about one minute. Drain the hot water from the pot, then replace with ice-cold water. When noodles are cold, set them in a large colander and drain them very well.

Place noodles in a bowl, toss with the sesame oil, cover and set aside until needed.

Combine the soy sauces, cooking wine (or dry sherry), brown sugar, chili sauce and stock in a measuring cup or bowl and set it aside until needed.

Heat the oil in a large wok or very large (at least 12-inch wide) skillet set over medium-high heat. When oil is very — almost smoking — hot, add the snow peas, bell pepper, garlic, ginger and pork, if using, and stir-fry two minutes.

Add the noodles to the pan and cook and stir-fry two to three minutes more, until noodles are hot. Now add the bean sprouts, green onion and soy sauce mixture and stir-fry one minute more.

Divide noodles among plates or bowls and enjoy.

Note 1: I used Farkay brand steamed noodles in this recipe. They are sold in the produce section of some supermarkets.

Steamed noodles are a fresh, Chinese-style egg noodle.

Note 2: Shaoxing rice cooking wine and dark soy sauce are sold at food stores in Victoria’s Chinatown and in the Asian-foods aisle of some supermarkets.

Eric’s options: Chinese-style barbecued pork is sold at food stores in Victoria’s Chinatown. Some grocery stores also sell it. I bought it, the egg noodles, rice cooking wine and dark soy sauce at Fairway Market’s Shelbourne Street location. If you don’t wish to use barbecued pork in this recipe, use thin slices of cold, roast pork, beef or chicken, or even cooked salad shrimp.

Sip your way around the world at wine fest

The Victoria International Wine Festival takes place from Sept. 20 to 22 at the Parkside Hotel and Spa, 810 Humboldt St. During the three days of events, hundreds of wines from around the world will be showcased.

At wine tastings next Friday evening, and Saturday afternoon and evening, attendees can leisurely enjoy sample-size glasses of a variety of wines. Small bites — not meal-sized amounts — of food that complement the wines will also be served.

Tickets for those tastings are $75 per person plus fees and taxes. If you enjoy some of the wines you’ve tried, you’ll also be able to buy them at the festival’s onsite wine shop.

On Friday and Saturday, you can attend wine seminars on topics including rosés, Argentinean wine and the history of some of the world’s top wines. Seminars are $40 per person plus fees and taxes.

The Victoria International Wine Festival is open to those 19 or older. Organizers suggest wearing business casual attire and not using any perfumes or colognes that will interfere with the aromas of the wine.

For more information and to buy tickets, go to the festival website at

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks, including seven in his Everyone Can Cook series. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.


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