It's easy to lose track of time when you're busy. This afternoon I had planned to cook rice, but I forgot. When my stomach started complaining vigorously, I had no mind to cook the rice or even cut the veggies. T_T The quickest way to satisfy my hunger? Chow mein. And because I keep a bag of ready-to-use frozen mixed veggies on reserve, I didn't even have to wash or cut.
Speaking of chow mein, I guess it's the most popular "Chinese dish" in the West. But I feel a bit uneasy every time I think of this: Why should sushi from Japan be so expensive, while Chinese jiaozi and chow mein are so cheap? Perhaps one of the reasons is the presentation of the food. Sushi are always nicely packed, beautifully laid out on a wooden plate or graceful china dishes, so pleasing to eyes. You are willing to pay for your visual pleasure. Chinese dishes are piled up together on the plate or bowl, giving you the feeling that the looks don't matter; you can eat anything when you're hungry. And at the moment I made this, I was indeed really hungry but I did still take a few seconds to consider the appearance of the dish, at least the colors.
By the way, since I made the spice bread, I've started experimenting more with the spices in cooking and added some here. Unexpectedly it was very yummy. ^_^ So, all you guys (and gals) who are still eating fangbian mian, grab a spatula and give it a try now !
Yields 1 serving
200g frozen mixed veggies
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ginger powder
Dash of star anise powder
Dash of anise powder
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp yacai (芽菜, pickled condiment available at any market in small pouches)
100g dried noodles
1. Heat the oil in the pan on high, add the spices and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds or 1 minute.
2. Add the veggies; turn the flame to medium, and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
3. At the same time, bring the water to a boil. Add noodles and boil for 4 minutes. Drain.
4. Pour the cooked noodles immediately into the pan of veggies, stir-fry for 10 seconds. Turn off the flame and continue mixing for a while until the noodles are evenly coated with oil and veggies so they don't stick together.
Then you could say: いただきます! ^_^
Tip: The chow mein served in restaurants usually is coated in a lot of oil so that they don't stick together, but I think the homemade version should be healthier. The secret is to time it really well: The veggies should be almost ready when the noodles finish boiling, so that you can the drained noodles to the veggies before they have time to stick together. Also, don't overcook the noodles; if they are too soft, they will easily stick together. If your timing is bad, add one tsp olive oil to the noodles after draining them; toss them to coat with oil so they don't stick together.
Sichuanese native and Chengdu resident Annie blogs about her adventures in cooking vegetarian meals, adapting recipes from around the world. Recently she has translated some of her favorite posts into English for GoChengdoo readers to enjoy. The original, Chinese-language version of this post can be viewed here. Photo by Annie Chen.