What a long week it's been!!
I've been just dead exhausted. Driving to work half awake and the same driving home. By that I mean, halfway thru my drive I just become so tired that I have to force myself to stay awake by turning off my audio book and switching to music, or turning off my music and switching to my audio book. My drive is very long. 60 miles, and here in SoCal that is a pretty ugly drive.
I cooked the first half of the week and we had leftovers for the last half. Yesterday, because everyone heated up whatever leftovers they wanted, I had extra time so did some of my chores- and then I forgot to eat dinner. PB&J at bedtime, after figuring out why I was so hungry... and then to bed.
I did have one really great food WIN this week. I made chow mien. Now I am Dutch-Indonesian and growing up we had Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng) or chow mien (Bahmi) as a side for most meals that would take a side. Oddly I never grew to hate these foods but I never learned to make them either. SR loves Chinese food, and we usually go to Panda Express at least twice a month because he loves their chow mien. I do not LOVE Chinese fried rice or noodles, because there is a difference in the flavor between Chinese rice and noodles and Indonesian rice and noodles. For one, growing up my mother did not put peas and carrots in the fried rice. She does now on occasion, but growing up, this isn't something I remember. Also there is a different taste. Until this week, I didn't know what that taste was.
SR wanted Panda Express this week, and while I am usually down for food I don't have to cook, it gets pricey with the two of us and three kids. So I decided to look up a recipe for chow mien. Specifically Panda Express Chow Mien. I love the internet. So I found a few and this one caught my eye. My first thought was "PLEASE tell me those are not Top Ramen noodles." Turns out they are not exactly, but once cooked, they may as well have been.
First, what is white pepper? I thought jokingly that maybe it's salt- but I made a safe assumption that it probably wasn't. Unable to find any, I used ground black pepper instead.
Second, I have never used ginger root before. It is not easy to get freshly grated ginger because it's all very pulpy. I used the smallest holes on my cheese grater and had to scrape the ginger pulp out of the inside of the grater to come up with two teaspoons. Do NOT rub your eyes until you have washed them after grating the ginger.
I think 2 cups of shredded cabbage was a bit too much. I will use a little less next time.
Once all the grating and slicing and mixing and noodle boiling was done. It all came together pretty fast. The first thing I noticed was that this chow mien was not as dark as Bahmi usually is. At first taste though, it was pretty decent. I let SR taste it and he said it needed more soy sauce. I gave it just a little bit more, because Americans have a way of over soy saucing their rice and noodles. I figured if he wanted more he could add it to his plate. It had a bit more kick than I wanted it to and I knew that the younger boys would complain about it. I think it was the ginger. However, SR and Jerkface thought it was FAN-tastic.
I sent a picture to mom, and she asked if I used sesame oil. I told her I hadn't. She said the difference between Indo and Chinese rice and noodles is sesame oil. Next time use sesame oil and soy sauce. Skip the ginger. I also found that the brown sugar and soy sauce makes what can be bought in stores as Kecap Manis, which is the Indonesian sweet soy sauce that we use as marinade for our satay. (kabobs). So next time I will skip the ginger and use sesame oil, garlic and kecap (or soy sauce and brown sugar). That makes it Indo. That makes it Bahmi. (I think that is what also makes it a little darker, but that could have been the noodles I used.) I know she also uses a little bit of shrimp paste and msg. Mom would sometimes scramble an egg and dice that up and throw it in. Sometimes adding leftover chicken, or shrimp. She would sometimes make it spicy, which was always my favorite. If I'm making fried rice, it's the same recipe, but adding cooked rice instead of noodles.
I'm really excited to make this again. I doubt it will ever be as good as my moms. However, my kids and SR will love it just the same as I did.