Chicken Chow Mein Ingredients
Chow Mein Noddles (Yaki-Soba) I used two packs
1 lb. Chicken Breast
1/2 cup White Onion, diced
1/4 – 1/2 cup sliced Carrots
1 Celery stalk, sliced thin
5 Green Onions, green part cut into 2″ pieces
1.5 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 tbsp Garlic, minced
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
Chicken Marinade Ingredients
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp White Pepper
1/2 tsp Cornstarch
2 tbsp Water
A bit about Chow Mein
The words chow mein is the Americanization of the Chinese term chaomian (Chinese: 炒面; pinyin: Chǎomiàn). Its pronunciation comes from the Cantonese pronunciation “chaomin”; the term first appeared in English (USA) in 1906. The term Chow mein means ‘stir-fried noodles’, also loosely translating to “fried noodles” in English, chow (Chinese: 炒; pinyin: Chǎo) meaning ‘stir-fried’ (or “sautéed”) and mein (Chinese: 面; pinyin: Miàn) meaning ‘noodles’.
American Chinese cuisine
Chaomian was introduced from China into the US by Chinese immigrants who came from the Guangdong provinces in the early 1849s bringing with them their Cantonese style of cooking.
In American Chinese cuisine, it is a stir-fried dish consisting of noodles, meat (chicken is most common but pork, beef, shrimp or tofu sometimes being substituted), onions and celery. It is often served as a specific dish at westernized Chinese restaurants. Vegetarian or vegan chow mein is also common.
There are two main kinds of chow mein available on the market: Steamed chow mein, and Crispy chow mein.
The steamed chow mein has a softer texture, while the latter is crisper and drier. Crispy chow mein uses fried, flat noodles, while soft chow mein uses long, rounded noodles.
Crispy chow mein either has onions and celery in the finished dish or is served “strained”, without any vegetables. Steamed chow mein can have many different kinds of vegetables in the finished dish, most commonly including onions and celery but sometimes carrots, cabbage and mung bean sprouts as well. Crispy chow mein is usually topped with a thick brown sauce, while steamed chow mein is mixed with soy sauce before being served.
There is a regional difference in the US between the East and West Coast use of the term “chow mein”. On the East Coast, “chow mein” is always the crispy kind. At some restaurants located in those areas, the crispy chow mein noodles are sometimes deep-fried and could be crispy “like the ones in cans” or “fried as crisp as hash browns”. At a few East Coast locations, “chow mein” is also served over rice. There, the steamed style using soft noodles is a separate dish called “lo mein”. On the West Coast, “chow mein” is always the steamed style, and the term “lo mein” is not widely used.
The crispy version of chow mein can also be served in a hamburger-style bun as a chow mein sandwich.
There are also variations on how either one of the two main types of chow mein can be prepared as a dish. When ordering “chow mein” in some restaurants in Chicago, a diner might receive “chop suey poured over crunchy fried noodles”. In Philadelphia, Americanized chow mein tends to be similar to chop suey but has crispy fried noodles on the side and includes much celery and bean sprouts and is sometimes accompanied with fried rice. Jeremy Iggers of the Star Tribune describes “Minnesota-style chow mein” as “a green slurry of celery and ground pork topped with ribbons of grey processed chicken”. Bay Area journalist William Wong made a similar comment about what is sold as chow mein in places like Minnesota. A published recipe for Minnesota-style chow mein includes generous portions of celery and bean sprouts. Another Minnesotan variant includes ground beef and cream of mushroom soup.
Food historians and cultural anthropologists have noted that chow mein and other dishes served in Chinese American restaurants located away from areas without any significant Asian American population tend to be very different from what is served in China and are heavily modified to fit the taste preference of the local dominant population. As an example, the chow mein gravy favoured in the Fall River area more closely resembles that used in local New England cooking than that used in traditional Chinese cooking. The founder of the food manufacturer Chun King and the creator of canned chow mein admits to using Italian spices to make his product more acceptable to Americans whose ancestors came from Europe.
Chow mein was mentioned as early as 1920, in the novel Main Street by Sinclair Lewis.
It is frequently confused with chop suey, a dish incorrectly labelled as chow mein, sometimes served in American restaurants, drug stores, school cafeterias, senior citizens facilities, and military bases’ chow halls. In many of these cases, this particular dish was served over rice and did not include noodles.
In 1946, one of the first companies to market “chow mein” in a can was Chun King. The product’s creator was Jeno Paulucci, the son of Italian immigrants, who developed a recipe based mostly upon Italian spices that would be better catered to the food preferences of European immigrants and some Americans of similar ethnic origins. To keep costs down, Paulucci replaced expensive water chestnuts with lower-cost celery stalks that were originally destined for cattle feed. Paulucci’s company became so successful selling canned chow mein and chop suey that President Gerald Ford quipped, “What could be more American than a business built on a good Italian recipe for chop suey?” when praising Paulucci accomplishments with Chun King. After Paulucci sold Chun King in 1966, the company would be sold several more times more until it was dissolved in 1995.
By 1960, Paulucci described in The New York Times that “At Chun King, we have turned out a ‘stew-type’ chow mein. I’d guess this type has been around for thirty – maybe forty – years. To make it, all the meat, seasonings and vegetables are dumped into a kettle and stewed for hours – until everything is cooked.” At the time of the interview, “sales from restaurants ‘to take home’ are almost three times as great as in the food markets”. Paulucci wanted to increase market share by using more effective advertising.