Believe it or not, it’s so easy shopping for ingredients for Oriental recipes. I’d dare say, it’s even fun. You get so much culture in such a little place and sometimes its just really nice to get out of my comfort zone only to realize it can be just as comfortable somewhere else.
The folks at this 1st Oriental Market are amazing people. They’re so eager to help with all your needs. And I find that this is common just about anywhere I go when it comes to foreign food. People like to share their experiences and culture. I find that it isn’t any different here and the owner, Earl and his wife, make it a real pleasant experience.
Most Oriental Cooking, these days, is very simplified because almost all of the guess work has already been cut out for you. I don’t have to make every individual sauce that is used to combine with other sauces to make one great recipe. For example: when a recipe calls for Hoisin Sauce, you don’t have to make you’re own Hoisin Sauce from scratch(which would require several other ingredients), you just crack open a bottle. And what about Plum Sauce… could you imagine having to make that beforehand too? Both of these ingredients are in my Chinese Barbecue Sauce recipe, which only has 5 or 6 ingredients: Hoisin, Plum Sauce, Ketchup, Sugar, 5 spice powder etc., and that makes it really simple just buying each one of those premade bottles. But, could you imagine having to make all of those ingredients as well? You’d be making ingredients for your ingredients.
That being said, I would just like you to understand and realize that you don’t have to learn translations of ingredients you’ve probably never heard of in the first place. Because, most of the basic ingredients I show you in this video are very versatile to most of the popular Americanized Oriental recipes that you’re likely familiar with anyway.
So get familiar with the few I show you now and I’ll introduce more as we go and you’ll be a pro before you know it!
The Dan Dan Noodle is originally a Scechwan recipe, which in my opinion translates, “Hot and Spicy”! But the heat can literally be thrown out all together if you’re not really into that much of a kick. This recipe is a perfect example of how I “dumb it down” for my girls. Mostly because the flavor still exists, I just extract the spice so that their little mouths won’t set on fire. But if you want it in there for your self, feel free to throw in some chili flakes or some chili oil to pep it up a bit and you’ll love it. Aso, you need to decide if you want to use Ground Pork or Chicken. In this recipe I’m using Pork but it can very easily be substituted and it won’t change the recipe at all what so ever. In fact, I personally prefer Ground Chicken.
Now, that we’ve covered the basics, all you have to decide now is whether you want the Dan Dan Noodle on a plate or in a bowl as a soup. Just like deciding if you want it spicy or not, it’s just a simple additive of chicken stock if you want it to be a soup. Nothing to it, it’s that simple. On a side note, you can add some peanuts to this dish as well because it gives it a little crunch. I only mention it because you’re going to find that ingredient in other versions of this recipe if you’re doing some investigative research on the Dan Dan Noodle. I think here in America, P.F. Chang’s is ultimately responsible for bringing this dish to light. Other restaurants in the corporate chain like Typhoon’s and the like have added it to their menu as well because it’s a great gourmet Noodle dish.
Dan Dan Noodle Ingredients:
8 oz Noodle
8 oz ground Pork or Chicken
1 chopped Green Onion
2 tbsp chopped Red Bell Pepper
1/2 tsp minced Ginger
2 tbsp Black Bean Garlic Sauce
1 tsp Hoisin Sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 tsp Chili Flakes or Chili Oil (optional)
1 tsp Corn Starch (deluded with 2 tbsp water)
Garnish with Grated Cold Cucumber and Bean Sprouts
If you’re preparing a Dan Dan Noodle soup, just add 1 cup Chicken stock over the top.
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.
Noodles, 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!
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.