(Note: I’ve changed the transliteration of the name of the dish since the original version of the post. I think it’s now the correct pinyin transliteration. Please correct me in the comments if you know, and it’s still wrong.)
Today you get the recipe for one of my very favorite dishes. Since I
married a Chinese woman 14 years ago, I’ve learned a lot of chinese
cooking, and of all of the things I’ve learned to make, this is probably
my favorite. It’s called Shanghai Xu Chao Mien. It’s a variant of
what’s called Lo Mein in the US, except that it’s actually authentic.
And as is typical of authentic dishes, it’s much better that
the crap you get at a typical chinese takeout in the US. (Chow mien is a
traditional chinese dish, but it’s got nothing to do with what we call
Chow Mien in the US; “Chao” means “stir fried”, and “mien” is noodles –
chow mien is stir-fried noodles.)
This is the shanghai variant of the dish. It uses a different kind
of noodle, and a very different sauce. You’ll have to go to a chinese grocery store for the two key ingredients. Finding them can
be a bit of a problem, because they’re typically not well-labelled in english, but they’re well worth the trouble.
First, you need a kind of shrimp paste which is the base of the sauce. It’s called sha-cha, and it’s made from a mixture of chilis,
garlic, fermented brill-shrimp, and oil. It’s usually sold in small glass jars, labelled “barbeque sauce” in english. It’s a dark paste, which has red chili oil floating on top of it. Thanks to a commentor, a picture of a jar of the brand I use appears to the right.
The other is the noodles. The typical lo-mein noodle is a sort-of square-profile yellow egg noodle. Shanghai Shu Chow Mien uses a plain flour noodle, which is thicker and wider – the noodles are between 1/4 and 1/2 an inch wide, and they’re a sort of pale-tan white. They’re sold fresh in the refrigerator case, not dried. They’re usually labelled “shanghai noodles”. Thanks to Google, you can see a picture of the kind of noodles I use to the right.
- Sha-cha sauce.
- Two chicken thighs, cut into thin strips.
- Soy sauce.
- One full package (1 lb) shanghai noodles.
- 12 baby bok-choi, cut in half, or an equivalent quantity of some other nice leafy green vegetable.
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced.
- One half of a large onion, thinly sliced.
- Bean sprouts – about 1 cup, or more if you really like them.
- Soy sauce
- Green parts of two scallions, finely minced.
- Mix the chicken with about 1 teaspoon of sha-cha and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and let it marinate for about 10 minutes.
- Boil the noodles for one minute, then rinse with cold water, and
toss with enough oil to prevent them from sticking together.
- Boil the bean sprouts for about one minute, then rinse them in
- Put the wok on high heat, and add enough oil to stir-fry the chicken. Then add the chicken, and stir fry until it’s just cooked through, and then remove it and put it aside.
- Add a bit more oil to the wok. Then add the onions and stir
until they start to turn brown around the edges.
- Add the garlic, and stir around for 20 or 30 seconds.
- Add the green vegetables, and stir until the leafs start to wilt.
- Add the bean sprouts and the chicken back to the wok. Stir until
everything is hot.
- With a spatula, pull all of the cooked ingredients up the side of the wok, leaving an open area in the center. All of the liquid from the stuff cooked so far should accumulate in the bottom of the wok. Let
most of it evaporate.
- Add a bit more oil, then put a teaspoon of sha cha sauce into the oil, and stir it around for about 10 seconds. Then pull everything else
in the wok back down, and mix it together, so that the sauce covers everything.
- Add the noodles, stir around to mix everything together. Add a
tablespoon or two of soy sauce (to taste), and stir until everything is
- Add the scallions, give it one last stir, and then remove from the heat and serve.