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Jerk Chow Mein

by Jon Kung from Kung Food

Jerk chow mein is a mainstay of Caribbean Chinese cuisine and features noodles and the protein of your choice tossed in a flavourful jerk-style sauce. Use tofu to make this dish fully vegan.

From the book

Jon Kung


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 2 hours or up to 24 hours before cooking.

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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 fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
2 tsp freshly ground allspice
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
225g protein (thinly sliced pork loin, beef sirloin, chicken thigh or firm tofu)
350g fresh chow mein noodles (see Note)
neutral oil
225g sturdy vegetables (such as cauliflower, broccoli, baby pak choi or mangetout), cut into small pieces

Essential kit

You will need: a food processor.


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 2 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, 3–4 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 1 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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