Introduction: Chow Mein
Chinese invented the noodles and changed the way we eat, that’s not an overstatement. As a Chinese, noodles and rice are something I can’t do without. I use Chinese noodles a lot in everyday cooking and can’t even begin to think how my culinary experiences would have been, if noodles were never invented.
Chinese noodles are versatile and there are so many ways to prepare them–stir-fry, pan-fry, boil, blanch, soup, gravy, or dry. I could never get bored of noodles. It’s one of the easiest foods to prepare at home, and the end results are always satisfying.
One of the most popular Chinese noodles in the US is chow mein or literally “fried noodles” (炒面) in Cantonese dialect. Chow mein is also a favorite Chinese take-out item. Some shredded vegetables, some protein–either chicken, pork, beef, seafood, or combination–and you will have a perfect chow mein that is cheap, filling, and sinfully gratifying. Yeah, I am talking about that grease at the bottom of the chow mein…
Making chow mein or any Chinese noodles at home doesn’t have to be complicated, if you know which noodles to buy (which according to many non-Asians, it’s the toughest part of it all). I have to say that the varieties of Chinese noodles available in the market are rather overwhelming; however, if you narrow down your selection, things would get a lot easier–and manageable. So, let’s start with chow mein, which is also the name used for fresh noodles.
I did some research over the weekend and found that there are two kinds of chow mein sold at the market: 1) steamed chow mein (pictured below), and 2) pan-fried chow mein. They are practically the same Chinese noodles, but the latter tends to be dryer and hence it’s for pan-fried purposes. I prefer steamed chow mein.
Now that you have narrowed down your Chinese noodles selection, the cooking process is really easy. In Asia, chow mein are mostly cooked with bean sprouts, but I noticed that fried noodles served at Chinese restaurants in the US usually come with shredded cabbages and carrot, which are great, too.
For the protein, you can use any meat or seafood or any combination of your choice. Chicken chow mein is always safe with most people, but combination is always pleasing and exciting.