Fried Noodles, The Wok & The Breath of the Wok
Mauritian fried noodles have evolved from the typical Chinese noodles ( Lo Mein) into something that is considered the most revered noodles in the world. It has taken a deep adaptation and influence from the diverse cultures in Mauritius.
There are some fundamental requirements to be able to make distinctive fried noodles. For this, we have to understand the wok. The wok is a thin iron cooking utensil that transfers a tremendous amount of heat to the food we are cooking. That is why we have to work quick and usually involves a lot of tossing around. To work quickly, we need certain preparations so the dish doesn’t end into a complete failure.
In order to proceed with successful fried noodles using a wok, we have to make all of our ingredients wok friendly. For that matter, consistency is of most importance. We have to cut all of our ingredients thinly so as it cooks in seconds.
- 2 packets of fresh noodles (feeds 4)
- 2 chicken breasts or deboned chicken thighs
- Pak Choy
- Garlic chives
- Chopped garlic (3 cloves)
- Julienned ginger (1 thumb-sized piece)
- Julienned carrots
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
- freshly ground black pepper
- sesame oil
- vegetable oil (best to use peanut/avocado oil)
Assuming that you have all your ingredients wok ready, heat up your wok in a high flame until smoking. Then add your high smoking point oil (peanut or avocado oil). Coat the wok well with the oil by spreading it around the edges. Remove the excess oil, then add the chicken strips, spreading it around the wok. Leave it untouched for 10 seconds, then start turning. Add the ginger and garlic, then stir swiftly. Then add fresh cracked black pepper, followed by 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce, and a dash of light soy sauce.
Turn quickly, but watch for the chicken to get some caramelised bits before turning. Our aim here is to cook the chicken as quickly as possible so as the flavours and juices are locked inside (rather than boiling).
The chicken should be ready within 1 minute of cooking. Remove from wok and reserve in a bowl. Rinse your wok and scrub if there are stuck bits.
Reheat your wok until smoking, then coat it using peanut/avocado oil. Remove excess of oil, then quickly add some garlic chives (the white bottom part), and the stems of the pak choy (julienned) and carrots. Watch for caramelised bits before tossing.
Add the noodles (never cook noodles in large quantities) and quickly toss using a fork and a flat wok ladle. Since you have coated the wok well in oil and it was smoking hot, it will become a natural non-stick wok.
Quickly mix it around, tossing and mixing the veggies along. Lower the flame, then add the following sauces (2 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp light soy sauce & 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce) , some freshly ground black pepper, and some garlic sauce. Bring the flame back to high, then toss the noodles quickly to prevent the sauces from burning.
Add the chicken back to the noodles, followed by the remaining garlic chives and the green part of the pak choy. Toss well and turn off the flame once the greens are wilted.
Drizzle some sesame oil (1 tbsp) and mix one final time. Serve hot.