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The other week my sister and I picked up some frozen Chinese food which was on offer. We thought it would make a simple, quick and easy supper. I don’t know what we were thinking really, because it was pretty disgusting.
Frozen vegetable chow mein? DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY! Sorry for shouting, but really. We paid $4.99 for what was essentially some noodles with a watery tasteless sauce and you could have counted the vegetables that were in it on one hand. They were few and far between.
My daughter and her husband buy those frozen Chinese dinners all the time, thinking they are getting a good deal, but in all honesty, they could make a simple and nutritious stir fry very easily. It would take very little effort or time.
I know a lot of singletons and smaller families cave to the temptation of buying these small sized frozen Chinese entrees as well, I suppose the thought is that they are quick and easy and not overly large.
I aim to change all of that. What if I told you that you could fix a quick and easy Vegetable Chow Mein which is delicious and nutritious and contains plenty of crunch and colour?
This very easy 30-minute vegetarian chow mein recipe packs in plenty of color, crunch and flavor. And this is at its very simplest. You can go as crazy with the vegetables as you like, adding even more, depending on your tastes!
Today I have used fresh cabbage, carrots, cooking onions, and spring onions along with some fresh bean sprouts, mushrooms and a few water chestnuts for plenty of crunch.
If you are afraid to use fresh bean sprouts (listeria) then by all means use half a can of the tinned ones. You can always freeze the other half of the tin in a freezer container to use another time. Trust me when I say that this is going to be something you will make frequently!
If you are not a vegetarian and want to turn it into a meat option, you can add cooked beef, pork or chicken very easily. This dish is a great way to use up some of those leftovers that might otherwise get thrown away!
If you are a vegetarian and want to add some protein, simply add some cubed tofu. Easy peasy.
This is also a great “clear-out-the-fridge” kind of a meal as well. Its a great opportunity to use up that half sweet bell pepper or little bit of broccoli that is languishing in the bottom of your vegetable drawer!
This is a very basic recipe which I am sharing with you, but you can easily adapt it to use whatever vegetables you have on hand. The more the merrier in my humble opinion!
Just make sure to keep the quantity down or you risk turning this into a dish for four rather than two. I would say 2 cups of vegetables in total are plenty!!
You can use the packages of Chinese noodles which you can buy in the foreign food aisle of the grocery store, or you can just use spaghetti. I often use spaghetti. I like the whole wheat one, which adds extra fiber and nutrition.
At the end of the day I don’t think it really matters what kind of noodle you use so long as it is a noodle and somewhat robust! You want it to have a bit of substance. The ones that were in that frozen pack? BLAH! They were mushy and over-cooked.
Any kind of noodle you use needs to be al-dente in my opinion! To have some bite to it.
Chinese food wasn’t something I really grew up with. I am sure there were Chinese restaurants around, but it wasn’t until I was in my late teens that one opened up near where we lived. It was right in town and my parents used to go there for coffee every evening.
We never ate there. My mother always told the story about how they were in there one night having coffee and someone at the next table pulled a long black hair out of their food. That would be enough for me!! Somebody wasn’t wearing their hair net!
Interestingly enough it was actually a very popular restaurant, always busy and filled with people. Interesting story here.
I got married the first time when I was only 19 and had my oldest son about 10 months later. That marriage did not work out actually, for a variety of reasons which are personal.
However the day I decided to leave I remember bundling my son up and some things into a suitcase and catching the bus back to Greenwood where my parents lived.
It was very brave of me actually as I was only just 20 years old at that point and I had very little confidence in myself. Anyways, I bought the ticket and away I went. The bus stop near where my parents lived just happened to be outside the Chinese Restaurant.
I had not told my then husband I was leaving or anything. I think I left a note. (I know, cowardly.) Guess who was sitting there eating in the Chinese restaurant when I got off the bus. HIS mother. Yikes!
Talk about Murphy’s law! What are the chances of that! I couldn’t believe it. Anyways, I grabbed a quick cab from the cab station right next door and was on my parent’s doorstep about 5 minutes later and that was that.
Talk about the luck of the Irish eh? Anyways, I do hope you will try this quick easy and delicious dish!
I am a true carbaholic and I like to enjoy this with a nice slice of buttered crusty French bread, the fresher the better. That’s me!
Vegetable Chow Mein (small batch)
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 30 Min
Quick, easy, delicious and built for just two!
1 TBS vegetable oil
1/2 TBS minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 small brown onion, peeled, halved and cut into half moons
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into julienne
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/4 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
4 closed cap mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces (115g) Chinese noodles, cooked according to the package directions, drained and rinsed
4 water chestnuts, drained and rinsed and sliced
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
2 TBS dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
additional sliced spring onions to garnish (optional)
To begin with, have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go. If you do this everything goes together in a flash!
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or a large skillet. Add the onion and cook, until the onion is wilted, without browning. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for one further minute.
Toss in the cabbage and carrots and cook until crispy tender.
Add the mushrooms and bean sprouts. Toss and cook until the mushrooms have cooked.
Add the spring onions, water chestnuts, soy sauce and sesame oil.
Toss together until everything is coated and well mixed.
Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired, and serve. If you want you can scatter a few additional sliced spring onions on top to garnish.
If you have any leftover cooked meat such as chicken, beef or pork, you can dice 1/2 cup of this and add to the brown onion when you are cooking it.
I will be moving into my new flat later this week. From then on I plan on posting fresh new content frequently, and am planning on moving more towards sharing delicious recipes for the smaller family. It only makes sense as I am only one.
Don’t worry though, most of what I make can always be easily doubled, or even tripled Also if there is any doubt you can always message me with any questions, which I am always more than happy to answer!
This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at: [email protected]
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Debunking the myths of English Cookery, one recipe at a time. The English Kitchen http://theenglishkitchen.blogspot.com/
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