Chow Mein, Lo Mein and more Chow Mein

Lo Mein/Chow MeinSo many Choices

Do you know the difference between Lo Mein and Chow Mein?  What about the difference between Chow Mein and Chow Mein? Ah, you didn’t know there are two different kinds of Chow Mein?  If you do that’s great, but most people don’t.  I didn’t.  Well at least at the time I was ordering it from a menu and got something I thought was entirely different and not what I was expecting at all.  That experience was years ago but it was the day that I learned the difference between Eastern and Western Chow Mein.

Eastern Chow Mein is what I got when I was expecting something different.  Apparently Western Chow Mein is what I was expecting and if that’s what I wanted from a place that serves the “Eastern” version of Chow Mein, rather, I should have ordered Lo Mein and it would’ve been the same thing.  Are you confused yet?

Western Chow Mein and Lo Mein recipes are virtually the same thing; lots of oily soft noodles with minimal vegetables.  Eastern Chow Mein is practically the opposite with a few variances, but basically lots of vegetables and minimal crispy noodles.  Western Chow Mein is my favorite, though I’ve come to love the Eastern version and often crave that recipe from time to time.  Lo Mein, or rather, Western Chow Mein is what I’ll be focusing on in this recipe.

TopRamen_ChickenNoodles, Noodles, Lo Mein Noodles

Never use Spaghetti noodles unless you want to fit in with all of the other yahoo’s out there that really don’t know what they’re doing.  You may not know either, but with this Lo Mein/Chow Mein recipe, you’ll be able to wing it like the pros and no one will be able to tell the difference.  You can, however, pull this off with Angel Hair Pasta, but I’m still not recommending an Italian noodle for a Chinese dish.  If you can pick up a soft noodle, something doughy or already cooked near the Tofu and egg roll wrappers in your grocery store, then that’s as good as it’s going to get, unless you make your own.  Though today, I’m going to show you how to do this with an all time very inexpensive favorite of mine, Ramen!  Nissin Top Ramen is what I’m using, with the chicken flavored seasoning packet.  You can literally use any flavor you prefer, but most Restaurants use a chicken or vegetable stock in their kitchen.  So trust me with this one because you’re going to need the broth even after you cook your noodles.

Cook The Noodles Al Dente.  This just means that you need to slightly under cook the noodles.  The reason for this is because they need to be cooked a second time when they are tossed with the vegetables, and this will keep them from getting over cooked and sticky.  Another important tip you need to know is the oil.  I have found that Peanut oil gives a more professional taste to the flavor of the noodles.  Don’t ask me why, because Chinese Restaurants will use Canola and even Soy Bean oil for their noodles, but I just don’t think they bring out that delicious fast food street vendor style of Lo Mein we’ve all grown to love.  For all I know, peanut oil is what the street vendors use.  I can’t be certain but it sure tastes right!

Ingredients:

1 pkg Noodles
4 ounces of Broth from the Noodle bouillon
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Hoisin or Oyster Sauce
1/3 cup Peanut Oil
1 chopped Garlic Clove
1 1/2 Mixed Vegetables

Vegetables should include Cabbage, Onion and Carrot at a minimum, but can also contain Mushroom, Celery and Bean Sprouts.  Feel free to add any precooked meats like, Shrimp, Chicken or Beef.  Rob the 4 ounces of Broth from the Noodle bouillon and mix the sugar and your choice of Hoisin or Oyster to make the Secret Sauce.  Both are good but add a completely different taste so just choose your favorite.  Cook the noodles Al Dente and strain, then cook the vegetables in the peanut oil and garlic for 30 seconds, add the noodles and toss, then poor the “Secret Sauce” into the noodles and stir until the coloring is even through out the noodles.  The whole cooking process, tossing the vegetables and then combining with the noodles, shouldn’t take you more than 1 full minute to complete.  Serve the Lo Mein Family Style, on one plate, then dish out separately.

Sushi Hand Roll

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Sushi, sushi, Sushi Hand roll!

Oh my god I love a Sushi Hand roll!  I’m not even playin’.  I honestly don’t remember the very first time it was really introduced in my life, but I do know for certain that it wasn’t something I grew up with.  I didn’t try Sushi until I was a grown man.  I’d even go a step further and say that I might have even been a grown drunk man.  This was late night food for me when I had the munchies.  At least that’s how I remember it.  In my mid twenties I picked up some work that was paying a lot of money; a lot of money for me anyway.  Plus I was single, and I was traveling to different jobs all the time, so I got to meet a ton of new faces that helped me pay out my ass with a ton of fresh experiences.  One of my favorites was a club in Denver called, “The Church”!

The Church was an old Cathedral, Roman Catholic style building that was turned into the hottest club in town.  Oh yeah, not to mention Sushi.  Crazy Right?  I’m telling you, nothing was a bigger surprise to me than to find a small Sushi bar in the very back of a 3 level floor, wall to wall, shoulder to shoulder college fest of drunken dancers.  However, in the condition I was in at 1:00 in the morning, NOTHING could’ve made me happier either.

If you don’t know by now, there are all forms of Sushi Rolls, and these days, every bar out there pretty much makes up their own rolls.  Sure there are many traditional’s with the same basic ingredients, but there always seems to be a little tweak here and there in the way they’re prepared.  I never have the same roll made exactly the same at different restaurants.  But one thing I have found, is that any true not in it for the hype Sushi lover, will order Sushi Hand Rolls.  So breaking it down simply, I’ve chosen the Spicy Tuna Hand Roll to demonstrate how easy this can be for you to do on your own at home.

Sushi Ingredients

1 Ahi Tuna Steak
1 cup Sushi Rice
1 Green Onion (chopped scallions)
1/4 Sliced Cucumber
1/4 cup Mayo
1 tsp Sriracha (rooster sauce)
6 Half Sheets of Nori (seaweed)

Spicy Mayo Mix is just combining the Mayonnaise and Sriracha rooster sauce.

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All good Sushi boils down to proper preparation of the rice.  It is said that most chefs wash rice for months and sometimes years before they are ever trained to cut and roll sushi.  The rice must be properly rinsed and washed, soaked, then brought to a boil, reduced to a simmer for twenty minutes, cooled, then mixed with salt, sugar and rice vinegar.  The mixture and recipe for perfect Sushi rice can be found all over the web if you want a professional opinion from a Sushi Chef.  Just know that if you decide to skip this step, or even purchase the wrong rice, the flavor of your rolls will MOST DEFINITELY suffer.

Instructions

1) Lay down the Nori smooth side down, texture side up, length wise left to right.
2) Wet your hands with water and grab 1/3 cup of Sushi rice.
3) Place the rice in the center of the left hand side of the Nori and press diagonally from the top corner until the rice is 3/8″ thick.
4) Make a Diagonal indention in the rice by pressing your index finger in the center of the rice, then garnish with cucumber.
5) Then spread one heaping tbs of spicy tuna over the cucumber leaving the bulk towards the top left corner.
6) Using two hands, pull the Nori to the edge of the table with the right hand, then use your left hand to catch the rice side.
7) With your right hand, roll the rice side first starting with the bottom corner of the Nori, rolling over the rice in a funnel like fashion.  Make sure that the bottom of the roll goes to a point as you turn the roll in your left hand, leaving the top exposed like an ice cream cone.  Continue all the way around until you reach the last corner from the end of the Nori.  Stop there and place one or two pieces of rice on the corner and close the remaining Nori to the roll by sticking the rice corner to the cone.
8) Top off the Spicy Tuna with Scallions and Tempura crumbs if you’ve got them.  Enjoy your Sushi Hand Roll!