How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

There are many types of chow mein. It is not just the cooking method that varies – the noodles (which can be thick or thin) can be stir-fried, deep-fried or pan-fried, and, of course, there are endless combinations of ingredients to go with them. The style found in most restaurants is where all the ingredients are stir-fried together in the wok.

Chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables

For this dish, I like to use oil noodles (also called oily noodles), where, as the name suggests, the noodles are coated in oil. This means you can use less oil when stir-frying, because they are less likely to stick to the wok. If you can’t find oil noodles, which are about the thickness of bucatini (although without the hole), buy fresh Chinese noodles of the appropriate thickness then blanch them briefly, to remove the floury coating. Drain them, then spread them on an oiled baking tray and drizzle with more oil. Toss the noodles to coat them with the oil, then proceed with the recipe. There is no need to boil oil noodles before stir-frying them.

The pork belly can be with or without the skin, as you prefer. The pork should be chilled before you slice it, which makes it easier to cut into thin pieces.

How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

The ingredients for chow mein with pork belly and dried shrimp. Photo: Jonathan Wong

For the pork belly:

250 grams (9 oz) pork belly, chilled

15ml (3 tsp) light soy sauce

10ml (2 tsp) rice wine

¼ tsp granulated sugar

⅛ tsp fine sea salt, plus extra as necessary

1 tsp cornflour

For the noodles and other ingredients:

30 grams (1 oz) dried shrimp

300 grams (10½ oz) small Chinese (napa) cabbage

1 red bell pepper, about 225 grams (8 oz)

60 grams (2 oz) spring onions

60 grams (2 oz) flat Chinese chives

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

2-3 thin slices peeled ginger

20 grams (1 tbsp and ½ tsp) oyster sauce

10ml (2 tsp) light soy sauce

10ml (2 tsp) rice wine

½ tsp granulated sugar

½ tsp fine sea salt

5ml (1 tsp) sesame oil

2 eggs

600 grams (21 oz) oil noodles

Cooking oil, as necessary

Chinese chilli sauce, for serving (optional)

1 Slice the pork belly into thin pieces about 1cm wide. Put the pieces in a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, salt and cornflour. Mix then set aside.

2 Put the dried shrimp in a bowl and add 60ml of water. Set aside to soak.

3 Remove and discard the core from the base of the cabbage, then cut the leaves into bite-size pieces.

4 Remove and discard the stem, core and seeds from the bell pepper. Slice the bell pepper into thin strips.

How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

Prep the vegetables. Photo: Jonathan Wong

5 Cut the spring onions and chives into 2.5cm lengths. Cut the garlic cloves in half. Slice the ginger into shreds.

6 Pour the oyster sauce into a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, salt and sesame oil. Drain the dried shrimp and add the soaking liquid to the bowl. Stir well.

7 Whisk the eggs in a bowl.

8 Heat a wok over a medium flame, then add about 5ml of cooking oil. Use a paper towel to rub the oil into the wok to coat it lightly but evenly.

How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

Make the omelette. Photo: Jonathan Wong

9 Pour half of the egg into the wok. Immediately swirl the wok so the egg is in a thin layer. Cook until the egg is matt on the surface. Lift the crepe out of the wok – it’s OK if it breaks – and place on a cutting board. Coat the wok again with oil then prepare the remaining egg the same way, stacking the crepes on top of each other.

10 Roll the crepes into a cylinder then slice them into strips about 5mm wide. Unroll the strips and set aside.

How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

Stir-fry the cabbage. Photo: Jonathan Wong

11 Wash the wok then place it over a high flame. When the wok is hot, add 10ml of oil. Swirl the wok to coat it with the oil, then add the cabbage. Sprinkle lightly with salt then stir-fry over a high flame for about a minute, or until the cabbage is lightly wilted. Add the spring onion and chives and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Transfer the ingredients to a medium-size bowl.

How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

Stir-fry the red pepper and garlic. Photo: Jonathan Wong

12 Place the wok back over a high flame (no need to wash it) and add about 10ml of cooking oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger and bell pepper. Stir-fry for about 45 seconds, or until the bell pepper starts to wilt. Remove the ingredients from the wok, putting them into the bowl with the other vegetables.

How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

Cook the pork belly. Photo: Jonathan Wong

13 Place the wok back over a high flame (again, no need to wash it) and add about 10ml of cooking oil. When the oil is hot, add the pork belly and marinade. Stir-fry over a high flame until the meat loses its pink colour.

How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

Stir all the ingredients together in the wok. Photo: Jonathan Wong

14 Add the vegetables back to the wok and mix well. Spread the noodles over the ingredients, then leave to cook undisturbed for about 30 seconds.

How to make chow mein with pork belly, dried shrimp and vegetables - the classic stir-fried noodle dish

Add the seasoning to the mixture. Photo: Jonathan Wong

15 Pour the oyster sauce mixture over the noodles. Mix well, then stir-fry almost constantly until the noodles are hot. Taste the noodles and correct the seasonings, if necessary. Mix in the strips of egg crepe.

16 Transfer the ingredients onto a platter and serve, with chilli sauce on the side. Serves two to four.

Styling: Nellie Ming Lee Kitchen: courtesy of Wolf at House of Madison

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