RECIPE: Seeking authentic chow mein recipe

mangomoonFebruary 12, 2008

I have tried a couple of recipes I found online, but somehow, they are missing the 'kick'. Does anyone have a close to authentic Chinese recipe for chow mein?

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Well, to a Chinese, chow mein is rather like spaghetti is to us...everyone has their own recipe.

One of the problems with trying to make chow mein or many other stir fried dishes is that most people don't have a restaurant stove. Stir frying in a wok takes a high, very hot flame. The ingredients are kept in constant motion, being scooped up from the bottom of the wok and tumbling down the sides again, which allows the ingredients to be sear-cooked very quickly without burning. Most modern home stoves don't provide the high flames necessary for this method of cooking. Attempting to stir fry the noodles in a flat frypan tends to either end up simmering them or burning them.

That said, I can't tell how authentic your recipe is without looking at it, but there is quite a range of flavors in soy sauces, which might be part of your problem. Ask the waiter at your favorite Chinese restaurant what brand they use in their cooking. Another thing is that restaurants almost always cook their noodles well ahead of time, so when they are tossed into the wok, they have been cold in the refrigerator. The same thing holds for fried just cannot get the proper texture using freshly cooked rice, it must be cooled completely and then refrigerated overnight.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 6:59PM
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Seems like I read somewhere that Chow mein is an American dish, not a Chinese dish. But I do agree with the cold noodles and cold rice.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 7:51PM
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lindac are thinking of chop sui.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 12:09AM
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Linda, you're thinking of chop suey. Chow mein IS Chinese-American. From Epicurious:

chow mein
[chow MAYN]
A Chinese-American dish that consists of small pieces of meat (usually chicken) or shrimp and vegetables such as bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, mushrooms and onions. The ingredients are usually fried separately, then combined at the last minute and served over crisp noodles.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 4:08AM
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LOL! What can I say? I was thinking of sui generis....and it was late!
Remember those "Chow Mein kits"? With the can of chicken, the can of veggies and the can of fried noodles? Can you say salty!!
I can't even think of what chop suey is.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 10:32AM
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rachelellen: Very well said, could not have said it better myself. The recipe is from a regular site. While it wasn't bad, I did buy noodles meant for chow mein and not spaghetti, which I hear can be used as a substitute. I have a variety of authentic Asian items in my cupboard (Oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, etc...), but the recipe did not call for any of the above, but I think I will try the Oyster sauce. While I agree 100% that it takes tending to over the stove so it is properly cooked, I did not use cold noodles, but I do use a large wok! Duh! I should have figured that one because I make fried rice and I always make the rice (Jasmine brand only), ahead of time, refrigerate and make the dish the next day. I should have used cold noodles.

I just need to 'dress' it up some, not so much with soy sauce because like regular hot sauce, it flavors the the top, and doesn't season the way other sauces and spices do.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 12:34PM
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I usually just "wing" Chow Mein, therefore I am not sure how authentic mine is.

Here is a recipe I have not tried, it's from a very old cookbook my mom gave me back in the 70's.

Chow Mein with Pork and Shrimp
from Madame Won's Long Life Chinese Cookbook

1/2 lb Chinese fresh water noodles
9 T oil
4 oz fresh shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut into pieces
1-1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 lb lean pork, shredded
1 T sherry
2 T light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 lb bok choy
2 dried black mushrooms, soaked in boiling watr 20 min., stems removed , shredded
2 T chicken stock
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp water

Drop noodles into boiling water, boil 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water, drain. Mix noodles with 1T of oil.

Mix shrimp with 1/4 tsp salt and cornstarch. Heat 1 T of oil in wok to 400F and stir fry shrimp until they turn pink, about 1 minute. Remove, set aside.

Heat 2 T oil in wok to 400F. Stir fry pork until color changes. Add sherry, 1 T soy sauce, and sugar. Stir fry 1 minute. Remove, set aside.

Heat 2 T oil in wok to 400F. Stir fry bok choy 1 minute. Add pork, mushrooms, 1 tsp salt, 1 T soy sauce. Add stock, cook 3 minutes. Thicken with dissolved cornstarch. Add shrimp, bring to a boil. Remove, set aside.

Heat 3T oil in wok to 350F, stir fry noodles (they will form a cake) until outside is golden brown but inside is soft. Cook 5 minutes on each side. Remove to platter, place shrimp/pork mixture on top of noodles. Serve


    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 10:26PM
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This is a chow mein recipe that approximates the delicious piquant chow mein from my favorite dive in LA's Chinatown from 30 years ago. It has a wonderful balance of vinegar and the sweetness of the tomatoes. Some people add curry to this. This is especially good when tomatoes are at their peak. One of my favorite Chinese dishes.

Tomato Beef Chow Mein
1/2 lb. flank steak
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper, any color
2 medium ripe tomatoes
1 lb. thin mein noodles
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 T. sugar
1 T. vinegar
2 T. sherry
1/2 t. salt
1 T. catsup
1 c. beef broth

Cook mein noodles and drain. They cook fast, only 1-3 minutes. Rinse well with cold water and drain. Toss with 1 T. oil so noodles wonÂt stick together.

Heat large nonstick skillet, glaze with oil and pan fry 1/4 of the noodles at a time. Put in oven to keep warm.

Thinly slice beef. Mix marinade and add beef. Thinly slice onion, pepper. Cut tomatoes into 1/2" wide wedges. Mix sauce ingredients.

2 T. soy sauce
1 T. Sugar
2 T. minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. sherry
1 T. oil
2 t. cornstarch

Heat wok. add 1 T. oil, swirl and add onions and peppers. Stir fry 2 min, then turn out of pan. Drain marinade off meat. Add 1 T. oil to wok, swirl, add meat. After 1 minute, add tomatoes and stir fry w/meat gently. Return vegies, add sauce and cook, stirring until it thicken and boils. Pour over noodles. The sauce should glaze, not drown, the noodles.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 7:21PM
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