kales asked in Food & DrinkEthnic Cuisine · 10 years ago

How was Chow Mein used in history?

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  • 10 years ago
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    chow mien was inveSomewhere in America right now, noodles are frying. The chef is preparing chow mein, which simply means “fried noodles" in Chinese. But not all fried noodles are alike. In China, the varieties of chow mein are as numerous as the regional cuisines. Some are lightly heated in the wok, while others, particularly in Guangdong province and Hong Kong, are fried in bunches in oil until they’re browned and crispy on the outer edges but still soft in the middle. It was this southern style of chow mein that was carried to the United States by the Chinese immigrants.

    Back in the 19th century, America was introduced to chow mein after it had already fallen for chop suey. The setting was Mott Street in New York’s Chinatown, in the 1880s. While New Yorkers were wolfing down bowls full of chop suey, they began to notice something on the menu called chow mein, described as “fried vermicelli with strips of pork, celery, onions, and spices.” Notice the celery and onion on the ingredient list; those are also two of the key components of chop suey, providing a base of flavor and sweetness for the dish. In fact, what New Yorkers came to like about chow mein was both its resemblance to chop suey and a special quality of those

    fried noodles. In Roy L. M’Cardell’s humorous column “Conversations With a Chorus Girl” (1903), his attractive but ditzy protagonist touts the wonders of chow mein: “Gee! I like it. You’d think the vermicelli was Saratoga chips cut into strings.” (Saratoga chips was the original name for potato chips.) The resemblance to potato chips would make chow mein a star.

    In southern China, chefs tried to balance the crisp and the soft parts of the noodles. In the United States, we only wanted the crunchy parts. In the Mandarin Chop Suey Cook Book from 1928, the author tells us how to prepare the egg noodles: “Put five cups pure lard in a large pan on the stove--have lard hot, then add noodles; fry until brown (like one fries shoe-string potatoes). Spread a large sheet of white paper on the table, then take noodles from pan, spread on the paper, let cool.” Or you could just reach into the cupboard for a can of La Choy Chow Mein Noodles, which gave you the crispy bits without the work.

    In fact, La Choy (founded in 1922 by two University of Michigan graduates) also sold you the rest of a Chinese-American meal in a can. To make chop suey, just open and heat a can of La Choy Chicken Chop Suey and pour it over rice. To make chow mein, just open and heat the same can and pour it over La Choy Chow Mein Noodles. La Choy later erased any possible confusion by labeling their cans “Chicken Chop Suey or Chow Mein,” promising that their preparation was “Chineasy!”

    Crispy noodles migrated in ways that no South Chinese chef would have imagined: as a pre-meal appetizer to be dipped in sweet plum sauce, as a textured mix into dishes like creamed tuna chow mein, and blended like Rice Krispies into all kinds of cookies and other sweets. Because cooks could buy crispy noodles in bulk from the nearest Chinese noodle manufacturer, chow mein became the most popular dish in the Chinese-American repertoire. If diners wanted to show off, they would order the "subgum chow mein", containing the usual sprouts, celery, and meat as well as a water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, almonds, Chinese cabbage, and so on, most of it from a can and all of it cooked until soggy and flavorless.

    Luckily, immigration has the power to reverse culinary trends, at least in part. Today, you can find many Cantonese restaurants in the nation’s various Chinatowns where the chefs know how to prepare chow mein South China-style: crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. But in the vast majority of Chinese restaurants (there are now over 40,000 in the US), tradition still rules. Chop suey is quickly disappearing, except in the Midwest, but American-style chow mein is available almost everywhere. Considering the usually minimal difference between the two dishes, it must be the noodles.

    nted in america to feed americans, it is based on Cantonese cuisine

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    not that simple. chinese is many different cuisines. Anhui (Hui 徽) Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild herbs, both land and sea, and simple methods of preparation. Cantonese (Yue 粵) Classic Cantonese sauces are light, mellow and perhaps bland compared to the thicker, darker, and richer sauces of other Chinese cuisines. Fujian (Min 闽) Fujian style cuisine is known to be light but flavourful, soft, and tender, Hunan (Xiang 湘) well known for its hot spicy flavor, fresh aroma and deep color. Jiangsu (Su 苏 or Yang 揚) Shandong (Lu 魯) Shandong cuisine is considered the most influential in Chinese cuisine, with majority of the culinary styles in China having developed from it. Modern day schools of cuisine in North China, such as those of Beijing, Tianjin, and Northeast, are all branches of Shandong Cuisine. Also, the typical dishes in most North China households' meals are prepared in simplified Shandong methods Szechuan (Chuan 川) yum! famed for bold flavors, particularly the pungency and spiciness resulting from liberal use of garlic and chili peppers, as well as the unique flavour of the Sichuan peppercorn. Peanuts are also a prominent ingredient in Szechuan cooking. Zhejiang (Zhe 浙)

  • 10 years ago

    It was first made in the 19th century in Brazil, using Chinese cooking techniques with locally available

  • 10 years ago
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