Spaghetti with chicken, mushrooms and peanuts coated in a sticky, sweet and spicy sauce make this a unique combination of flavours that come together creating a noodle dish that is so packed full of flavour you won’t question the fusion of italian and asian because it just tastes so good.
This recipe is inspired by the dish of the same name from the Filipino restaurant Yellow Cab Pizza Co.
When I was in the Philippines for work in December, I ate so much food. Like, I love food and at one point I didn’t feel like eating dinner because I had just eaten so much. But food and mealtimes in the Philippines is an event, it is something to be enjoyed and that attitude is something that I really loved.
Everyday we ate something new, and with the Philippines being a country with such a variation of food options, we indulged in italian, mexican, japanese, chinese, and korean cuisine. Along with trying traditional filipino chicken adobo and stopping in for one of the weirdest meals of my life at fast food chain Jollibee’s to enjoy a plate of spicy fried chicken and sweet, tomato pasta with cut up hotdogs.
One rainy day however, it was too wet to go outside for lunch so we decided to order in from Yellow Cab Pizza Co. I was open to trying anything and what ended up arriving was a feast including a huge pizza, pastas, spicy chicken wings and a large soft drink. We sat around a communal table and tucked into the dishes. I spotted a couple of the pastas which were free from dairy, one being a spaghetti and meatballs and the other being something with a brown sticky looking sauce that I didn’t recognise.
I obviously went for that one first and continued to be surprised as I loaded this pasta on my place, noticing chicken, mushrooms and peanuts among the saucy noodles. On taking my first mouthful, I wasn’t sure what it was. It was sweet, but salty with a bit of chilli and garlic. It was so packed full of flavour that I devoured my plateful and instantly reached for more.
I questioned what exactly this was and was informed that it was a Yellow Cab special. The restaurant chain had created this dish, which is described on their website as being “Chicken strips, shiitake mushrooms and roasted peanuts in a spicy oriental sauce. Uniquely our own!”
This was basically a spicy asian style noodle dish, that used pasta instead of noodles. It was genius and so delicious.
I instantly knew that I was going to try making this at home as I couldn’t wait to come back to the Philippines every time I wanted to eat this! So I spent some time googling copycat recipes and realised that I really only needed a few different ingredients for the sauce, most of which I usually have on hand anyway.
You can make the sauce as spicy as you like, but I like to make sure there is that good balance of sweet to heat. Neither should be more than the other, but both should be intense.
I also use fresh shiitake mushrooms because I can easily get them from the supermarket and I prefer the taste to rehydrated ones, but if you can only get the dry ones, they will work fine, just rehydrate in some boiling water before using.
Now I know you may still be unsure, I mean pasta and a sweet and spicy sticky sauce? It doesn’t sound like anything you have probably eaten before and I understand the scepticism. But seriously, if you like noodles then you will like this. It all just really works together and even my husband who couldn’t understand this dish when I tried to explain it was eating the spaghetti out of the pan.
One of my favourite things about travel is that it opens you up to new flavour combinations and styles of food. I want to start bringing those experiences to the blog a bit more, so I hope you enjoy this little window into another way to enjoy pasta without western or italian influence.
As for why it’s called Charlie Chan – I don’t really know. Apparently it is named after a fictional detective character but I am yet to understand the link to why this pasta got that name. Just another thing that makes this dish unique!
If you do make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and rating below! And tag any of your creations on Instagram with #eightforestlane as I would love to see.
Charlie Chan Pasta
- 500 grams spaghetti
- 1 chicken breast
- 100 grams shiitake mushrooms
- 1 onion
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- ½ cup peanuts
- spring onions, chopped
- peanut oil
- ¼ cup oyster sauce
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon char siu sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- In a large saucepan, boil spaghetti according to package directions.
- Mix all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Chop the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces, slice the shiitake mushrooms and finley dice the onion.
- Heat about a tablespoon of peanut oil in a frying pan and add the onion, sauteing until translucent. Use a garlic crusher to crush garlic, adding it to the onions. Add chopped chicken and saute until browned. Add mushrooms and peanuts and continue to cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until chicken is cooked through.
- Add sauce to the chicken and stir for two to three minutes until the chicken is coated and the sauce starts to thicken. Add drained spaghetti and toss until covered in the sauce. Serve topped with spring onions.
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