Street Style Chowmein
Chow mein or Chinese stir-fried noodles is one of the most prominent Chinese recipes that has gained popularity the world over. The round noodles stir-fried with vegetables and meat or sometimes tofu is such a delicacy that it appears on the menu of most Chinese restaurants abroad. Thinking about Chinese food without mentioning Chow mein is kind of impossible. In this recipe, we will explore the Indian variation of Chow mein, particularly one from Kolkata.
What is Street Style Chowmein?
Chowmein, a street food is ubiquitously found on almost every Street corner in Kolkata, my hometown. At its heart, it’s just basic steamed noodles initially boiled in water and then stir-fried while being tossed with veggies, meat, and sauces. Even though it has thousands of variations throughout India, the recipes from Kolkata are deemed to be more authentic due to the large Chinese immigrant population in Kolkata’s Chinatown.The use of stir-frying techniques paired with Indianised spices mix to form a dish that is distinct from a normal wok-fried Chow Mein. Kolkata itself has many more variations of this recipe to offer including the Wok-fried chow mein that one would find in Tiretta Bazaar and many more.
Notable Ingredients at a Glance
Noodles – Usually Chow Mein noodles are long round noodles found in the Indian market. However, in a pinch, you can use normal instant noodles as well. You will need one packet of noodles for one portion. In this recipe, I have used Top Ramen vegetarian noodles.
Spring Onions– 1 cup Finely chopped spring onion Greens.
Carrots – 1 medium-sized carrot thinly sliced or julienned.
Bell Pepper – You will need 1 cup of thinly sliced bell peppers of various colors to make the dish look more appealing. In this recipe, I have used red, yellow, and green bell peppers.
Note: You can use any vegetable of your choice like French beans, cabbage, or even mushrooms.
Onion – 1 medium-sized onion thinly sliced either into rings or lengthwise.
Ginger – You will need a 1-inch knob of finely chopped Ginger
Garlic – 8 to 9 cloves of finely chopped Garlic should be enough. You can maximize the flavor by finely chopping the cloves lengthwise to maximize the surface area of the garlic.
Green Chilies – You can substitute green chilies with Red Chillies if they are available to you. You will need two of them slit lengthwise. You can get rid of the seeds to reduce the heat of the dish.
Red Chili Sauce – This can be substituted with the hot sauce of your choice. But do keep in mind the overall tanginess that you’d like in the dish. You will need one tablespoon of this sauce.
Green Chili Sauce – This sauce is also sour but it brings a characteristically Kolkata flavor to the dish. Try not to skip this ingredient. You will need a tablespoon of this sauce.
Soy Sauce – A decent quality soy sauce would make a very big difference to the final flavor of the dish. You will need 1teaspoon of this sauce. Additionally, you can add a teaspoon of dark Soy Sauce which will give the noodles a rich dark color and an authentic Chinese flavor.
MSG – MSG is used in cooking as a flavor enhancer with an umami flavor that increases the meaty, savory flavor of food, similar to how naturally occurring glutamate does.
Oil– 2 tablespoons of neutral-flavored oil.
How to prepare Street Style Chow Mein
First, we need to cook the noodles as per package instructions.
In a pot of boiling water, add the noodles without any included tastemakers and let it steep for 3 to 4 minutes or as per package instructions. Drain the water and rinse the noodles under running tap water. Add a little bit of oil to the noodles and toss to coat them evenly. This will prevent the noodles from sticking to each other. Keep them aside.
Next, heat up a Wok or Kadai and add oil. Heat the oil on medium flame and add the chopped garlic and ginger. Saute them for a minute.
Now you can add in your green chilies and onions and saute them on high heat for the next 4 to 5 minutes. At this point, you can add in your salt, MSG(Ajinomoto), and Soy sauce and stir well.
Now you can add in your green chili sauce, red chili sauce, and veggies. Saute the spring onions and carrots on high heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers in and saute for 25 minutes again on high heat.
Finally, add the boiled noodles back in and mix very well and stir fry on high heat. Toss the noodles to make sure the sauces coat all of the noodles very well.
Serve hot and enjoy!
Some expert tips for preparing Street Style Chow Mein.
- You can add in a protein of your choice like chicken or pork. This is also authentic to the original dish which is very popular in Kolkata.
- Use any vegetables that you may have lying in your refrigerator. It is a stir fry after all.
- Pair the chowmein with other Chinese dishes like Chilli Chicken or Chicken Manchurian.