I love this delicious Funchoza with Chicken and Prawns (Фунчоза) as the prawns make this Asian salad pop! The prawns are part of my creative license with this recipe, but I will explain more below.
Beef Funchoza and Chicken Funchoza are usually made in large quantities for celebrations of special events. I don’t remember a single family gathering, church event, or Russian party without Funchoza.
In my ignorance, growing up, I didn’t realize it wasn’t a Russian meal. My parents grew up in Northwestern China, in an area now know as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group who are officially recognised as a minority in China, but with limited autonomy. Funchoza is a Uyghur dish, not a Korean, Chinese or Russian dish, although eaten commonly in Central Asia, including Russia. It is similar looking to Japchae or Kuksu, but they are not Funchoza (hint: they have different names, flavours, and are from different cultures).
There are many variations of this dish, with different vegetables, spices and meats. My seafood version is an unconventional variation of Funchoza, as prawns aren’t native to land locked Northwestern China, but this is perfect for a hot Australian summer’s day (It’s my Aussie version of Funchoza).
I love the freshness of the cilantro and the prawns, yet the familiar flavour of Funchoza with a hint of black Chinese vinegar. I found a spicy sesame oil which I add at the very end for a spicy kick. I also love the addition of garlic chives or джусай. As a child, none of my friends knew what джусай was, it definitely wasn’t easily available at the grocery stores at the time. I loved making scrambled eggs with джусай, my favourite Saturday morning meal.
Adding джусай to Funchoza not only adds a nice visual contrast to the dish, but most importantly a great flavour. I like to add some spice, but that is completely optional. Traditional Funchoza with Beef or my Funchoza with Chicken and Prawns can both be eaten hot or cold, but I prefer it warm. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Funchoza with Chicken and Prawns (Фунчоза)
Funchoza is a colorful salad, delicious cold or warm. A Central Asian Classic, made with chicken, vermicelli, cilantro, red peppers, cilantro, updated with prawns, a perfect combination! - Bean Vermicelli Noodle Funchoza with Chicken and Prawns (Фунчоза)
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts sliced into thin strips
- 1/2 kilogram of raw prawns peeled and deveined
- 2 large onions
- 5 carrots peeled and julienned
- 1/2 daikon radish peeled and julienned (optional)
- 1 red bell pepper julienned
- 1 cup of chopped garlic chives джусай
- 350 grams of Bean Vermicelli noodles*
- 3 cloves of garlic crushed
- 2 hot chili peppers (optional)
- 1 bunch of fresh Cilantro about 1/2 cup
- 1/3 cup plus 3 teaspoons of Soy Sauce
- 6 teaspoons of Great Wall Black Chinese vinegar
- vegetable oil
- sesame oil
Heat a large frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil on high heat and cook the onions until they become translucent - approx. 5 minutes.
Add the chicken and cook together until the chicken is browned and the onions are caramelised, on medium high heat. There will be a point where the juices from the onions and chicken will make the frying pan quite juicy, but continue frying until the onions caramelise. (8-10 minutes) Set aside the cooked onions and chicken.
Heat the same frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil on high heat and add julienned carrots. Fry on medium high heat for 8-10 minutes until carrots are soft and caramelising. Set aside.
Heat frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil on high heat and add the julienned red peppers and julienned daikon. Cook for approx 5 minutes and set aside. The daikon and peppers will have a slight crunchy texture in the Funchoza. If you prefer they are fully cooked, then continue to cook until soft and caramelised. (approx 10 minutes)
Heat frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil on high heat. Add crushed garlic and chopped chilli peppers and garlic chives. Add the raw prawns and cook until the flesh is bright pink and opaque white. (approx. 5-6 minutes)
Prepare the Bean Vermicelli according to package directions. Cut noodles using kitchen shears into 6" pieces. Drain from the water and put inside a large mixing bowl.
Add the chicken, onion, carrots, daikon, red peppers, prawns, cilantro, chilli, garlic chives into the large mixing bowl of vermicelli and mix thoroughly. I wear disposable kitchen gloves to mix, as it's quite oil and messy. Add the soy sauce and Chinese vinegar and sesame oil to taste. I love adding more black vinegar, but be sure to adjust to taste in small amounts ie. 1 teaspoon at a time. The ratio of soy to vinegar is 3:1. Be careful not to over flavour, be sure to taste the funchoza as you add the final flavours.
* Do not use Rice Vermicelli. Although they look the same, Bean Vermicelli absorbs flavour better and has better texture in the dish (will not fall apart as easy).