FRIED NOODLE HERESY
Chow mein should be wheat noodles barely boiled, added to a roomy fry pan after sliced scallion and ginger have been gilded and another ingredient has been added. High heat, frazzle, splash of liquid, with or without stock and sauce-type additions. Served glistening, NOT crisp.
A minor inclusion of vegetables -- tiny bokchoy, gailan, celery, or even carrots if you are peculiar -- is also acceptable. Even welcome.
Think of it as a noodle dish that is lightly dressed.
Not bollixed up to a fare-thee-well.
If you cannot even smell the scallion and ginger, that isn't chow mein. It is something, I shan't try to guess what, but it may not be quite edible.
If you are a New Yorker, from New England or the Midwest, or Indian (subcontinental), you probably do not know this.
The "other ingredient" mentioned above is usually pork, sometimes beef (mostly in America), rarely shrimp. Small pieces, so that they cook fast.
A total exception being made, of course, for a pork chop. Liquid additions to reduce and slightly glaze the amalgam being water, stock, sherry or rice wine, and soy sauce in a minute quantity. Yes, I know that everybody outside of Chinatown wants to add enough soy sauce to float a battleship, but mahogany-hued noodles are not chow mein. That's crap that you serve in a school cafeteria or at a church supper in Minnefriggingsota.
Chili paste can also be added during the cooking process, but is better thought of afterwards, when the waitress brings a steaming plate of goodness to your table, and you ask for the bottle of Sriracha.
Serve me something else and I may scream.
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Labels: 唐人街 Chinatown