Skip to content

Chow mein (approximately)

As I mentioned in the previous post on Polish pierogi, if you can’t make things authentic, at least you can make things good. The fact that we don’t have either the skills or the ingredients to do exotic cuisines authentically doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take inspiration from those cuisines and do the best we can. There’s an analogy to musicianship. The fact that we’re not all professional musicians and didn’t go to Juilliard should never stop us from making the best homemade music that we can make.

But back to the kitchen.

For the chow mein, I used whole wheat linguini for the pasta. The vegetables are broccoli, carrots, cabbage, onion, red pepper, celery, and garlic. The sauce is a combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, vegetable bouillon paste, and harissa sauce, which is a Tunisian pepper sauce that I always stock. I always have soy sauce and rice vinegar, but that’s about all I ever have that’s specifically Chinese.

No wok? A big skillet will do.

Just from experimentation, I think I have at least partly figured out the secret of wok cooking (using a big skillet). The reason you need high heat is to quickly boil away the water that leaks from the vegetables. The presence of water being converted to steam greatly lowers the temperature. But once the vegetables slow down on leaking water, you must be very careful and work quickly lest things get too hot. Once the wok starts to dry out, the browning process begins. You want the vegetables as dry as you can get them without overcooking them, and you want as much brown as you can get, because that’s where the umami is. Practice is required. It alls happens very fast. But this chow mein left no vegetable water in the bottom of the plate (or in the wok). The shiny brown color comes not only from the brownness of the sauces (which also must be largely boiled off by high heat), but also from the browning of the vegetables. The cooking oil makes everything shine.

Tofu would have gone very nicely with this. But I had roasted peanuts as a second course.


  1. frigast wrote:

    Yam-yam ๐Ÿ™‚
    LOVE it … together with a glass of the best ๐Ÿ™‚
    Will sing along (my music these days)
    Used to sing duo with Rudy ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 5:29 am | Permalink
  2. Jo wrote:

    The man can COOK! Dishes always look awesome.

    Friday, April 6, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *