Recipe: Guyanese Chow Mein

Serves 4

Hello. I realize it’s summer, but let’s shut our eyes for a moment and daydream about winter. In Guyana. Are you ready for Christmas? Shall we deck the halls? (do people really do that?). Ready or not, today’s recipe is going to take you to December 25th, Guyanese-style. Read this:

The kids got their little presents, got their pictures taken on my lap, and everyone ate fried rice, chow mein, and chicken curry. You know, traditional Christmas food.

From Mark Hejinian’s travel blog Guyanese Mark

My first reaction? I want to spend Christmas in Guyana. Immediately. It doesn’t help that it’s a zillion degrees here, but a nice cool winter day would be welcome right about now. And that menu? Yes, yes, yes.

So let’s dig into what this dish is all about.

While Chow Mein might sound like a stretch for the South American dinner table, Guyanese love this dish with a passion. It’s not a straight up copycat operation, however – they add plenty of unique touches, to make Chow Mein their own. For example, although they prepare it with soy sauce, they call the soy sauce “Chinese Cassareep” – a nod to the locally prepared cassava based juice that they douse on almost everything.  Also, they slather it with a scorching hot sauce made from habeneros. One popular brand is called Matouks.

When it comes it ingredients, they often add green beans (or long beans), peas and other simple vegetables. Bok Choi is a big hit as well.  The noodles can be round or flat, although round is more common (except in homes where the wrong package of noodles is purchased. Yes, I did that).  In all seriousness, as long as you make this dish with egg noodles, you are good to go. Just be sure to top with some firey hot sauce. Caribbean-style.

Optional? Serve it with Curried Chicken Kabobs [recipe].

Ingredients:

For the quick marinade:

1 tsp chinese 5 spice
1 Tbsp soy sauce

For the stir-fry:

3/4 lb pork, cut into small pieces
8-10 oz egg noodles (or angel hair pasta)
5 baby bok choy, sliced thinly
1 heaping cup cleaned and cut green beans or long beans
1 small onion, sliced thinly
soy sauce, as needed

Garnish:
3 green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 eggs, beaten, cooked, and cut into strips

Method:

First, cook the noodles according to package instructions. These took 3 minutes. Done! Easy! Yay! Too bad they weren’t round.

Next, add soy sauce and Chinese Five Spice to pork. Set aside, in refrigerator, until needed.

Next, sit in wonder and awe at how beautiful bok choy is, especially when it was picked that day and purchased at the farmer’s market. Eating fresh veggies is like winning a prize.

Once you’re sufficiently happy, slice all veggies up – from onions, to green beans, to bok choy. Even cut up the garlic. This is important, because once you start cooking you’re going to be moving at the speed of light.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet up over high heat. Make sure it’s screaming hot. Add meat and stir constantly. It’ll get nice and brown.

Next, toss on the garlic and then the onions, cooking each for about 30 secondst. The name of the game is to keep stirring.

Toss on the green beans (also from the farmer’s market, huzzah!) and bok choy. If you want your green beans soft, add them first and then add the bok choi. I like a little crunch for contrast.

Keep cooking to desired doneness. When everything’s looking “about right” season to taste with soy sauce and pepper.

Toss the noodles on top and give everything a good mix. If it seems a bit dry, loosen it up with a sprinkle of water (or even better, cooking water from the noodles). Remove from heat and set aside.

Next, beat two eggs and cook in a large pan with some oil, making a very thin omelet, almost like a crepe. Roll into a tube and cut into strips.

Plate up the Chow Mein noodly goodness with a sprinkle of the omelet and green onions. This is happiness on a plate, Guyanese Style.

For Supreme Happiness on a plate? Add Curried Chicken Kabobs [recipe].

Serve to really hungry friends, or to your doting husband who requests it for breakfast the next day.

No matter that Chow Mein is not technically breakfast food.  I get it. I like leftovers, too. Especially cold Christmas noodles in the summer.

Enjoy!

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Comments

  1. Sounds awesome!! You think you could sub the pork for chicken thighs (since that’s the only meat I have in my freezer right now)?

    • Jessica Bennett says:

      I make this with chicken often. It’s good with the hot sauce too. I usually make my own. I try bottled sauces every once in a while, but almost all of them have xanthan gum, which I don’t care for (makes it too thick and gummy).

  2. Oh yay! Glad you put this up – looks WONDERFUL!

  3. elisa waller says:

    oh joy! I think Amanda and donovan might love this…BTW donovan told his dad he might be interested in cooking as a “career” …aside from baseball.. (wink wink) isnt that .thats cool..I think aunt sasha inspired him a bit…he is also considering physical therapy or athletic training…fun meal..it is so beautiful looking..and bok choy is one of my favorite!

  4. I would start a new holiday just for this!

  5. What a fun idea! I can’t wait to follow you on this culinary adventure.

  6. Sharisse Steber says:

    I made this tonight – we loved it! It’s serendipity that my CSA box of food each week seems to be following your weekly recipe ingredients. (Very little I have to buy!!) I have a question…. Do you buy the chinese 5 spice or do you make it? If so – what is your recipe? (I made my own) I used sesame oil in this. Do you use olive or vegetable oil instead? Thanks so much – I just love your blog.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Sharisse, that *is* serendipity! How cool. I got most of my ingredients for this at the farmer’s market, so I suppose that makes sense :) I ended up buying the 5 spice as I was running low on time – feel free to share your recipe in the comments here. Sesame oil sounds like a great addition, by the way. You can also just use vegetable oil. Olive oil tends to taste too Mediterranean for this dish. Anyway, I’m so glad you loved it. We’ve already made it a second time because Keith is such a big fan :)

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