Chicken, rocket & hoisin sauce on flat fettuccine

First, let’s tackle the pasta. Bring a 4l“ pot of water to the boil. Add the 500g of fettuccine and let it boil for the time suggested on the packet.

Talk about fusion – here’s the ultimate mix in cooking styles in which Chinese-style stirfry meets the best of Italian pasta. For this cook, whose love for the wok is almost as strong as his love for the braai, this intriguing combination of tastes and textures frees one from the standard Asian noodle with its standard flavour and appearance.

To make this magnificent meal for four diners, you will need:

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  • 800g chicken breast fillets
  • 70ml hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower or canola oil
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 3 big spring onions
  • 15 to 20 fresh rocket leaves
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 500g fettuccine pasta

When done, drain, douse briefly in cold water to prevent any further cooking and reserve under cover for later. Cut the chicken breast fillets into uniformly sized coarse chunks. Uniformity ensures evenly cooked chicken bits. Crush, peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and thinly slice the onion. Coarsely chop the spring onions, and rinse the rocket. Then, measure the hoisin sauce into a separate container and do the same for the stock (stock cubes will do too).

Turn up the heat
Now for the drama and high heat. The best equipment in descending order is a wok, a skottel or a large heavy-bottomed frying pan. For heat I prefer a low-pressure gas burner. Mine has two concentric rings, individually adjustable, which gives me relatively immediate variability from gentle simmer to almost out-of-control nuclear firestorm. Sometimes the oil ignites but thanks to my elbow-length welder’s gloves, the hair on my arms remains unsinged.

Moving on: pour the oil into the wok, bring this up to smoking heat, then lower the flame. Add the rocket for 10 seconds (yes, literally 10 seconds) to wilt it, then immediately remove and reserve for later. Stirfry the garlic and onion slices until the onion is soft and transparent, then remove it from the wok.

Add the chicken chunks and stirfry these until they’re cooked right through. Cut one in half after three or four minutes to check how well it’s done. Add the wilted rocket, stirfried onion and garlic, chicken stock and hoisin sauce to the wok and stirfry these at medium heat for two minutes. Drop in the coarsely chopped spring onions for 30 seconds or so of stirfying, which should be sufficient to warm them up while preserving their colour, crunch and texture.

Add the cooked fettuccine pasta to the wok and stir it well to evenly distribute the ingredients and warm up the pasta.Serve this splendid combination of cooking styles in bowls with chopsticks for the experts and forks for the rest of us. A couple of ultra-chilled Windhoek lagers introduce the appropriate state of mind. Enjoy.