Savory Seasons: Chicken Chow Mein

Comfort food with a Chinese twist!

I've been on an Oriental food kick lately. Food is one thing, but this also involved unearthing lotus bowls, a sake set and a teapot and cups from a box in the basement. Why do things half way? 

The hot sour soup was great; the potstickers were a disaster! There are some things that should be left to the experts and a kitchen with a crew. Anyway, last night I left my chili paste, golden needles and Szechuan peppercorns in the cabinet and pulled out an old recipe for a simple Chicken Chow Mein. If I'm remembering correctly, this recipe came from a Betty Crocker Cookbook that was popular in the 1950's. Hardly Chinese! To be fair, I don't think that Chow Mein is authentic either. It was something that Chinese restaurants developed to appeal to Americans.

This is a classic remembered taste of something you might have had years ago on your first trip to a Chinese restaurant. It requires a bit of slicing and dicing, but it's easy to pull together and tastes great. 


1/4 C vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 C sliced Chinese cabbage (Bok Choy) 

3 C sliced celery (I use half onion; half celery)

bean sprouts (small package of fresh) 

1 can water chestnuts (rinse them well)

2 tsp sugar

2 C chicken broth

2 TBS corn starch

1/4 C soy sauce

1/4 C water

2 C diced cooked chicken


1. Heat oil, salt and pepper in a deep pan.

2. Add the cabbage, onions, celery, bean sprouts, water chestnuts and sugar, Stir to combine.

3. Add the chicken broth; cook approximately 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

4. Mix the corn starch, water and soy sauce; add to the vegetables. Stir until thickened.

5. Add the chicken and heat through.

6. Serve with rice or crispy chow mein noodles. Keep the soy sauce handy if anyone wants it a bit saltier.

In general, I prefer spicy Szechuan or Hunan style Chinese food, but there's something about this inauthentic dish that's a throwback to a simpler time. Sort of like Campbell's tomato soup. I routinely make my own soup, but there are times when there's nothing better than good old Campbell's tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. Chicken Chow Mein is the Chinese equivalent of that for me.

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