‘Mayonnaise’ is the first French word most Americans learn; ‘chow mein’ are their first Chinese words. In either case, one could do worse in terms of cookery.
This familiar and all-encompassing Chinese dish appears on the menus of coundess Chinese restaurants – I am tempted to say that every Chinese-American restaurant is required by culinary law at least to list it. Only sweet-and-sour pork matches it in popularity.
Chow mein entails a smart and very efficient marketing ploy on the part of Chinese restaurant owners. Simply take the same ingredients as for chicken subgum, stir-fry the mixture with noodles and you have something completely different – or so it pleasingly seems.
Cut the chicken into 2.5 cm (
Blanch the noodles in salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and toss immediately with sesame oil. Set aside.
Heat a wok until it is very hot, and then add the groundnut oil. When the oil is very hot, remove the wok from the heat and immediately add the chicken pieces, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. As soon as the chicken pieces turn white, in about 2 minutes, quickly drain them in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl to catch the oil. Reserve
Reheat (or heat) the wok or a large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the reserved
If you choose to use water instead of oil, bring it to the boil in a saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add the chicken pieces, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the chicken pieces turn white, in about 2 minutes, quickly drain them in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl. Discard the water.
© 1998 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.