If you’re a fan of Vietnamese food, then you should be familiar with the peanut sauce that goes with the spring rolls. It’s a mixture of tamarind paste, peanut butter, and hoisin sauce, thinned down a bit with hot water. I love that peanut sauce. I can dip steamed dim sum and lumpiang togue (fried bean sprout spring rolls) in it and not think about how weird it is. The result became yesterday’s lunch.
The thing is, chow mein does not have to be swimming in starch-thickened sauce to be good. The addition of oyster sauce is not a must either. Anything can be used to flavor chow mein so long as everything blends well together. That should take the weirdness out of tossing the noodles with peanut sauce. At the risk of sounding self-serving, let me tell you that this noodle dish is good.
In a bowl, stir together the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, and kalamansi juice with half a cup of hot water. Cook the noodles in boiling water according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Lightly season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat the cooking oil to the smoking point. Stir fry the beef just until no longer pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Reheat the oil. Stir fry the green beans and carrot for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reheat the oil once more. Saute the garlic, shallots, and sliced chili until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Return the beef and vegetables to the pan. Season with patis and more pepper. Pour in the peanut sauce and stir. Add the cooked noodles and toss until coated with the sauce and heated through. Off the heat, drizzle with sesame seed oil, and toss a few times before serving.