Vegan Charlie Chan Pasta (Yellow Cab)

Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 5 Mins Cook Time: 15 Mins Total Time: 20 Mins

This fusion pasta is a headliner at Yellow Cab, a pizza restaurant chain based in the Philippines. The flavours are distinctively Asian, and the mix of the different sauces somehow work to produce this perfectly savoury and fragrant pasta dish. In our vegan Charlie Chan, we will use a mix of shiitake and button mushrooms, but you can use whatever. You can also add some vegan protein slices if you like!

The sauce list on this dish reads like a Lee Kum Kee commercial. Does Yellow Cab have a deal with Lee Kum Kee? First of, you have the vegan oyster sauce aka LKK vegetarian stir-fry sauce. Then, of course, there’s the sesame oil and the chilli garlic sauce. Finally, the original Charlie Chan pasta recipe uses char siew sauce which has honey and is not vegan. So, we will use the hoisin sauce which is!

What’s up with Charlie Chan?

I believe Yellow Cab named this pasta “Charlie Chan” because of the catchy name and the “Chinese” connotation. But, I want to take a minute here to talk about the origins of Charlie Chan.

Created by author Earl Derr Biggers in 1925, Charlie Chan was a fictional Chinese-Hawaiian detective. According to wiki, “the benevolent and heroic Chan was conceived of as an alternative to Yellow Peril stereotypes and villains like Fu Manchu.” Many films were made featuring Charlie Chan. In the beginning, he was portrayed by East Asian actors and the films were rather unsuccessful. The films began to be well-received only after a Swedish actor took over the role.

Despite his positive portrayal in the books and films, Chan was still positioned as an outsider. Some said that Chan was an important anti-sinophobic symbol. While others pointed out that while Fu Manchu’s evil qualities are presented as inherently Chinese, Chan’s good qualities are presented as exceptional. “Fu represents his race; his counterpart stands away from the other Asian Hawaiians.”1

As a Chinese person, Charlie Chan is a very strange creature that clearly shows the prevailing sentiment of that time period. I mean, the entire premise of the show was banking on his Otherness. I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing, but I am glad to say that general sentiment has (hopefully) evolved since then.

1 Ma, Sheng-mei (2000). The deathly embrace: orientalism and Asian American identity. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-3711-3.

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0/10 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
  • Sauce


0/7 Instructions
  • Lightly toast the peanuts. Slice the mushrooms and spring onions. Separate the white and green parts of the spring onions. Mince the garlic.
  • Cook your pasta al dente and drain.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat and fry the garlic and spring onion whites.
  • Add the mushrooms, pressing them with the back of the spatula to get rid of extra water.
  • Add the linguine to the pan, a quarter cup of pasta cooking water, and the sauce ingredients.
  • Mix well. Add the spring onion greens and toss to combine until the pasta water is gone.
  • Serve hot, garnish with sesame seeds.


#mushrooms  #noodles  #peanuts  

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