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Jerk Chow Mein Extracted from Kung Food by Jon Kung (Ebury Press, £27). Photography by Johnny Miller.
November 2023
Reading time 2 Minutes

The history of the Chinese diaspora in relation to the Caribbean is an interesting one

In the mid-1850s, thousands of people from China were brought to the British Caribbean to work as indentured labourers (slaves), primarily on the islands of Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad, and more arrived in waves over the next two decades. This steady influx led to the development of Caribbean Chinese cuisine, which blends West Indian flavours with the (mainly) Cantonese palate and cooking techniques. Jerk chow mein is one of the staples of this cuisine. If using meat as opposed to tofu, allow it to marinate in the jerk spice rub for at least two hours or up to 24 hours before cooking
  • 2 bunches spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, stalks removed and de-seeded (use gloves or take care not to touch your eyes after handling!)
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tsps freshly ground all spice
  • 2 tsps fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsps coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 225g protein (thinly sliced pork loin, beef sirloin, chicken thigh or firm tofu)
  • Natural oil
  • 225g sturdy vegetables (such as cauliflower, broccoli, baby pak choi or mangetout), cut into small pieces

In a food processor, combine the spring onions, garlic, Scotch bonnets, ginger, paprika, brown sugar, allspice, thyme, salt, black pepper and nutmeg and blend to a paste. Set aside. If using meat rather than tofu, coat it lightly with about a tablespoon of the jerk sauce and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to 24 hours.

Blanch or cook the noodles according to the packet instructions (see note); drain and set aside. Coat a wok with neutral oil and heat over a medium-high heat. Add the meat or tofu and the vegetables and stir-fry until the vegetables start to char and the meat is almost cooked through, three to four minutes, depending on your wok’s heat. Add the noodles and the jerk sauce and toss until everything is evenly mixed and coated and the meat is fully cooked through, about one minute longer. Serve.

Note: fresh (i.e., not dried) chow mein noodles are generally sold in two forms: steamed or raw. If they say steamed on the packet and/or have no cooking directions, they just need to be blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds and drained before they’re pan-fried in your dish. If the packet says raw, follow the cooking instructions on the packet before pan-frying.

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