Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chow mein

Indo-chinese style chow mein is a very popular street dish in India. We tried it for the first time and it turned out very good. Green-chilli soaked vinegar on top added the nostalgic touch. We went to a Lion supermarket in San Jose to get the noodles and the lady there helped us pick one that's good quality and doesn't get sticky. We also bought super-cheap ginger and thai chilli peppers there and some MSG.

First soak chilli peppers in a little vinegar and keep it on the table. You can add this on top of chow mein.

Boil water with a little bit of salt and oil and put dry noodles in the pot and gently stir with a fork. Cook on high for about 2 minutes and then on lower heat for another 2 minutes or so. When the noodles are just a little firm, but mostly cooked, put them in a colander and run cold water through them to cool them down and stop further cooking. Get ride of excess water from the colander and spray just a little oil and spread the noodles on top of a few paper towels/cookie sheet.

Next heat up oil in a wok (or big pan) and cook the vegetables one-by-one. Make sure to cut the vegetables thin and small and similar sized, so they cook evenly. Goal here is to cook them on high heat for just a few minutes, so they stay crispy and don't get soggy. We first cooked onions for a minute or 2, then removed them and cooked carrots and bell pepper, and then mixed everything together with cabbage, ginger, garlic and green chilli peppers and cooked for another minute or two on medium-high heat until vegetables were slightly charred and you can smell the aroma of ginger. Afterwards lower heat to medium/medium-low and add salt and stir for a few seconds to get rid of excess water, then add soy sauce, a little MSG (this is optional, but we wanted to try), sesame chilli oil if you have it and then noodles. Stir the noodles gently, but make sure to move the pan a lot, so things don't stick to the bottom much (there will be some collateral damage, but that's ok). Turn off the heat and add soy-suace/salt to taste and make sure noodles are well coated with the mixture.

Serve hot and add a little bit of vinegar mix on top!

Things that made a difference in our opinion:
* Excellent quality dry noodles
* Crispy and charred vegetables.
* Cabbage, ginger and green chilli peppers are crucial.
* Soy-sauce should cook for a few seconds before you add noodles and lower the heat (not sure if this is really true, but soy sauce that we later added on top tasted a bit raw compared to what was already mixed-in earlier during cooking).
* Chilli-oil added nice complexity to the flavor.
* And of course, vinegar on top!

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