Chow Mein - One Pan on Stovetop
Both of them are gone now. Mom died in 1988, and her mother later in 1995. Grandma was an experimental cook. She loved to dabble and there was no one in the house to criticize, and mom used to try to imitate her mother, sometimes successful. There were more stories than not of failed copies. The chow mein or chop suey or whatever it is, was almost impossible to mess up.
If it tasted good, it was good. If it tasted wrong, who knew better. We just ate it in silence. [We were that generation that believed that if there was food on your plate, you better just eat it and not say a word.]
Today, I just know that I'm hungry for it, and I searched through the recipes that I own that belonged to the two women, and, happy day - I located two recipes that were what it was.
Converting to Now
Back in the day, they baked a lot of things. A hotdish was thrown together in a casserole and baked until it merged. I find that I can do the same thing on the stove-top in a covered frying pan.
And, today, that is exactly what I did. I knew I needed chow mein noodles, and I found a bag of them. I found some chow mein seasoning in the packets aisle. I bought bean sprouts and chop suey vegetables. I had a snack size bag of frozen shredded carrots. I cut up some onion and two stalks of celery. Plus, I had leftover steak from the other night, so I sliced that up into pieces as well. I retained all the water from the vegetables and the can of mushrooms. The original recipe called for Chicken and Rice Soup, but I substituted with Rice A Roni Chicken and Garlic. I felt that I wouldn't notice the difference, plus the rice comes with a seasoning packet and it thickens up. I added a can of Cream of Chicken soup as well.
Tossed the bag of chow mein noodles over the top and closed the lid of the pan. Brought to a boil and let it boil for 20 minutes, as per the directions on the box of rice.
Yes. It turned out just as I remembered. The noodles softened up and retained a small amount of chewiness. The cream soup merged with the sauce packets and the vegetable water and created a sumptuous gravy. The vegetables, well the vegetables did as vegetables do and just added their flavor to the mix.
I had two bowls full.
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 1 5.9 ounces package rice a roni, chicken and garlic flavor
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1 package chow mein noodles
- 1 package sunbird chow mein seasoning mix
- 1 can chop suey vegetables
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can bean sprouts
- 1 can mushrooms
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 8 ounces sirloin steak, chopped
- Heat your pan on medium. Melt half a stick of butter in frying pan. Add onions and celery. Once onions have started to turn brown, add rice a roni. Add carrots. Add meat.
- Retain all the water from the vegetables, mushrooms, bean sprouts and add soy sauce to the water. Add 2 1/2 cups of additional water for the rice, and put all wet ingredients in pan. Add cream of chicken soup, stir, and put chow mein noodles on top.
- Put a cover on the top, and wait for the mixture to come to a boil. Set your timer for 20 minutes after it comes to a boil. You will have to stir in 10 minutes, and don't be alarmed if your ingredients are sticking to the bottom. Just un-stick them by stirring.
- As the mixture boils, all the mixed sauces and waters will merge into a gravy that will thicken.
- After your timer goes off, eat and enjoy!
Beef Chow Mein or Tuna Chow Mein
My mother was one of those creatures that would call something or a recipe by a certain name, but when you came to eat it, it didn't quite match the initial description.
Beef Chow Mein had hamburger in it. If mom got a wild hair, she'd put tuna in it instead. As you can see, the recipe for tuna Chow Mein is called Chopstick Tuna. Instead of burger, she would put a can or so of Starkist tuna.
It didn't taste bad at all.
But, there was no point in being a picky eater around her.