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liuzhou

"Chinese" food as it appears in different countries

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Posted (edited)

Host's note: this discussion began in the Food in the Time of a Pandemic topic.

 

10 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:

chow mein noodles are completely non-existent

 

What are chow mein noodles? (Serious question - "chow mein" means fried noodles. Fried noodle noodles?)


Edited by Smithy Added host's note (log)

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38 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

What are chow mein noodles? (Serious question - "chow mein" means fried noodles. Fried noodle noodles?)

 

I do not partake, myself.  However I believe they are noodles labeled "chow mein".

 

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2 minutes ago, robirdstx said:

 

 

Thanks. Never seen anything like that before. Must be American-Chinese.

 

Chow mien (炒面 - chǎo miàn) is a thing here, but never crispy and can be many different types of noodles - although always wheat Fried rice noodles are  炒粉 - chǎo fěn.

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54 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

What are chow mein noodles? (Serious question - "chow mein" means fried noodles. Fried noodle noodles?)

 

Chow mein, IMO, is a staple in American (U.S.) Chinese food. Not usually deep-fried, not usually crunchy. The thickness is approx. the same as spaghetti or ramen noodles. The shape of the noodle is like spaghetti but more irregular. Served with cut-up vegetables & meat.

 

The product (La Choy crispy noodles) that @robirdstx posted is popular, too, but it seems more like a topping or a heavy garnish.

 

Here is the Panda Express (American chain of Chinese takeout food) version of chow mein.

panda-chow-mein.png

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2 minutes ago, MokaPot said:

 

Chow mein, IMO, is a staple in American (U.S.) Chinese food. Not usually deep-fried, not usually crunchy. The thickness is approx. the same as spaghetti or ramen noodles. The shape of the noodle is like spaghetti but more irregular. Served with cut-up vegetables & meat.

 

The product (La Choy crispy noodles) that @robirdstx posted is popular, too, but it seems more like a topping or a heavy garnish.

 

Here is the Panda Express (American chain of Chinese takeout food) version of chow mein.

 

 

Thanks. Here chao mian is often a flat noodle more like tagliatelle, but as I said above, it can any of many types of wheat noodle. In fact, in many places, if you ask for a noodle dish, you will be asked if you want flat or round. I usually go for flat.

 

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6 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

What are chow mein noodles? (Serious question - "chow mein" means fried noodles. Fried noodle noodles?)


Where I live, in the store where I shop, they are this...

chowwhat.jpg

I can't give you any further helpful information, I've never purchased them.

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8 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

 

Thanks. Now I'm baffled. Never saw anything like that before, but they sure ain't Chinese!

The recent culinary grad who worked for me at my restaurant was from mainland China (I forget the name of the place, but IIRC it's where they'd held the rowing events during the Beijing Olympics). He was truly shocked and appalled at some of the stuff sold as "Chinese food" here.

The one that seemed to really rankle, in his instance, was a local buffet staple known as "Chinese chicken balls"... a tiny nugget of chicken, deep-fried in a ball of stodgy batter that's about the size of a Mandarin orange, and served with generically red sweet-and-sour sauce. Roughly a 5:1 ratio of stodge to chicken.

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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5 minutes ago, chromedome said:



Ta tiny nugget of chicken, deep-fried in a ball of stodgy batter 

I leaned a new (to me) usage of this word today.

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I believe (but have not bothered to verify) that the use of it to describe a person, or said individual's frame of mind, is derived from the culinary adjective.


“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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A hugely popular one in the US is "Chinese chicken salad". 

Madame Wu's in Santa Monica, California often claimed the recipe.

"Legend has it that in the 1960s, Madame Wu, of the famous and beloved Madame Wu’s Garden in Santa Monica, claims to have made the first Chinese chicken salad for Cary Grant"

This is a good overview of its very "non Chinese" basis   https://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/article/history-chinese-chicken-salad

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I've taken to using the term "vaguely Asian" for anything I come up with in the kitchen that uses any combination of traditionally Asian ingredients: ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, miso, mirin, lemongrass.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

 

Thanks. Now I'm baffled. Never saw anything like that before, but they sure ain't Chinese!


It is ubiquitous in Hong Kong. Chow me(i)n is available from most older mom & pop food stalls throughout all districts ...

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, chromedome said:

I believe (but have not bothered to verify) that the use of it to describe a person, or said individual's frame of mind, is derived from the culinary adjective.

 

Without wishing to get too off-topic, it's the opposite. 'Stodgy' originally meant 'muddy' and the culinary usage followed a short time later. Its use to describe a person's thinking came from the earlier meaning.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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29 minutes ago, Duvel said:


It is ubiquitous in Hong Kong. Chow me(i)n is available from most older mom & pop food stalls throughout all districts ...

 

Sure, chao mian is available in every almost food stall on the mainland too, but is nothing like what has been pictured above. And the concept of "chao mian noodles" is linquistic nonsense in any variety of Chinese, given that mian (or mein) means 'noodles', specifically wheat noodles.

If I were to go into any store or supermarket and ask for chao mian, they would think I'd lost my mind.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, kayb said:

I've taken to using the term "vaguely Asian" for anything I come up with in the kitchen that uses any combination of traditionally Asian ingredients: ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, miso, mirin, lemongrass.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes. A lot of my cooking is “vaguely Asian“. I just get irritated on the internet (especially YouTube) when I see things labelled as “Chinese” when someone has decided to add a drop of soy sauce to their shepherd's pie or the like.

 

Or even worse when things are described as “Chinese“ because they contain Japanese ingredients!

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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3 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

Yes. A lot of my cooking is “vaguely Asian“. I just get irritated on the internet (especially YouTube) when I see things labelled as “Chinese” when someone has decided to add a drop of soy sauce to their shepherd's pie or the like.

On which note... the French-Canadian term for shepherd's pie (or cottage pie, more accurately) is "pâté chinois," which has always mystified me. It's hard to imagine anything less Chinese.

Hmm. Wikipedia has an explanation, tenuous (and probably apocryphal) though it may be.

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I am a big fan of Chinese-American food.  I am not a big fan of badly cooked food of any kind.  I think that sometime people criticize ethnic-American foods on a basis of "authenticity" and sometimes they just get crappy food.  We have a few "Chinese" buffets in town and the food is horrible.  It is owned and staffed by Asian people.  The times that we've been in (it was a good place to take my mother who has dementia - menus were incredibly hard to get through for her, but I could walk around a buffet with her and she could get a little of everything she liked the look of), many of the customers were also Asian.  I can't explain that because the food is awful and not at all fresh.  But the Chinese-American restaurant that we have been going to for 25 years is nothing like that.  Fresh, hot and carefully prepared.  

 

I grew up in the Washington DC area and we spent a lot of time in DC's Chinatown.  My mom was very picky about the quality and there were ones that we frequented and ones that we never went to more than once.  

 

As far as chow mein noodles go, there are a few different variaties available.  These are about the width of fettuccine and "bubbly", these are about the size of a thick spaghetti noodle, and these are tiny and labeled "rice noodles", but have wheat flour in them, too.  They are extremely thin and crisp and I actually use them on  my salads in place of croutons sometimes.  These are a different thing altogether - they are never found in stores, even Asian stores, in my experience.  They are made of egg roll wrappers and come with soup in Chinese-American restaurants.  

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20 minutes ago, IowaDee said:

Does anyone remember these odd things.  They were quite the fad to make years and years ago.

 

https://homecookingmemories.com/no-bake-chow-mein-noodle-cookies-recipe/

I still get them at Christmas in goody baskets that folks make.  Some folks use really good chocolate and toasted nuts and they are actually good.  But some folks use that weird almond bark or candy melts and then they are horrible.  

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Probably be a good recipe to drag out now that so many are stuck home all day with bored kiddies.  I recall making lots of no-bakes when mine were little.  Good, messy fun.  Guess I've never had a classy version of the chow-mein cookies.  Too many I remember had peanut butter which I do not like .  

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One of the things I admire about exported Chinese food is how it adapted to local ingredients. I don't think baby ears of corn were exactly indigenous. I also think that Chinese-xxx food is always evolving.

 

That doesn't explain "chow-mein" noodles, though. Maybe those uber-crispy noodles were some fusion of Chinese and deep frying. Then they were packaged for grocery stores as people started to want to cook Chinese-style at home. I always disliked the things, not to mention the slimy celery-heavy sauce that usually was slopped on top.

 

Until recently, the hotel near me called the British-American Hotel had a sign out front advertising Chinese and Australian food. Four country fusion.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Significant numbers of Chinese have been in both the USA and Australia since their respective Gold Rushes, despite shameful efforts in both countries to get rid of them. That's six or seven generations ago. It's no surprise that the food has evolved significantly locally. I hesitate to say that is fusion, it's possibly more an evolution in response to a different environment (think culinary Darwinism). 

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Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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On the chow mein topic, from the takeouts I've known, it's referred to less a noodle and more a dish with crispy chow mein on the side as noted above. How it got this name when the noodles aren't even in the dish I don't know.  Aside from texture, they don't add much esp given rice typically comes on the side.  I don't know why it became a thing.  It's funny because if you google the recipe mostly all are using the soft noodles, also considered chow mein, just not fried/dry.  


That wasn't chicken

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