Our affinity towards Chinese takeout food doesn't entirely revolve around it being so cheap — we cannot get over how delicious it (usually) is. However, one of the best things about Chinese food is that you can easily make plenty of dishes at home, and that includes chow mein.
First things first. Chow mein can mean different things depending on where you're from. On the East Coast, you might be served crispy, deep-fried noodles, but on the West Coast, the noodles are steamed and stir-fried. "Chow mein" translates to "fried noodles." In mainland China, the dish is stir-fried.
Stir-frying noodles with some vegetables, aromatics, and protein doesn't seem challenging, but making it taste just like takeout can be a bit difficult, even when you follow a recipe step by step. The devil is in the details, and in this case, they're in a bottle of Chinese cooking wine. Also known as Chinese rice wine or Shaoxing wine, Chinese cooking wine imparts a briny flavor with a hint of sweetness and gives chow mein that unmistakable takeout flavor.
Other Important Ingredients
You can use as much Chinese cooking wine as you want in your chow mein recipe, but to make it taste delicious and takeout-authentic, you will need a few other ingredients, including soy sauce. Regular soy sauce will give the noodles a flavor boost, and dark soy sauce will give it a nice brown color. Depending on your preference, you can also add other ingredients like sesame oil and oyster sauce.
Some people also like to add chicken stock or MSG to bring out an umami flavor. In any case, don't be shy to use sauces and seasonings in your chow mein. As for the pan, you can also use a regular one to make chow mein, but a wok is ideal for stir-frying since it heats up quickly and has enough space for you to toss the noodles. Carbon steel woks are known to impart a smoky, caramelized taste, but any wok works fine as long as the frying technique is right. To give your chow mein a smoky flavor, drizzle soy sauce around the edges of the wok as you fry the chow mein, making sure the surface is a little oily so the sauce won't burn.
Read the original article on Mashed.