In American Chinese cuisine, it is a stir-fried dish consisting of noodles, meat (chicken is most common but pork, beef or shrimp can be used), onions and celery. It is often served as a specific dish at westernized Chinese restaurants.
There are two main kinds of chow mein available on the market: 1) Steamed chow mein, and 2) Crispy chow mein, also known as Hong Kong style chow mein. The steamed chow mein has a softer texture, while the latter is crisper and drier. Crispy chow mein uses fried, flat noodles, while soft chow mein uses long, rounded noodles.
Crispy chow mein has either onions and celery in the finished dish or is served "strained", without any vegetables. Steamed chow mein can have many different kinds of vegetables in the finished dish; most commonly including onions and celery but also sometimes carrots, cabbage and mung bean sprouts as well. Crispy chow mein is usually topped with a thick brown sauce, while steamed chow mein is mixed with soy sauce before being served.
There is a regional difference in the US between the East and West Coast use of the term "chow mein." On the East Coast, "chow mein" is always the crispy or Hong Kong style. The steamed style using soft noodles is a separate dish called "lo mein". On the West Coast, "chow mein" is always the steamed style, the crispy style is "Hong Kong style".
The crispy version of chow mein can also be served in a hamburger-style bun as a Chow mein sandwich.
Chow mein is mentioned as early as 1920, in the novel Main Street by Sinclair Lewis.
Quick and easy main dish.
Easy Chow Mein
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker
1 pound ground beef
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 (12 oz.) bottle teriyaki baste and glaze
1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts, drained
2 cups coleslaw mix (bag shredded cabbage & carrots)
3 cups chow mein noodles
In skillet, cook beef over medium high heat, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until beef is cooked through and no longer pink. Stir in celery and bell pepper. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender, drain.
Stir in teriyaki baste and glaze and water chestnuts. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until heated through.
Remove from heat. Stir in coleslaw mix. Serve over chow mein noodles. Enjoy!