Traditional chow mein is made with egg noodles which are boiled then strained and left to dry. They are then stir fried and finally left to sit at the bottom of the wok and pressed down, this crisps the noodles at the edges and underside. Chow mein is made with either seafood, often just prawns, chicken, beef or barbecued pork. Restaurants will serve a combination chow mein or a single type. Chicken and beef are often softened with a little bicarbonate of soda. The sauce is made from garlic, rice wine, light stock, MSG, salt and corn flour. Vegetables are usually one green such as bok choy or choy sum plus a little chopped carrot, but also other green vegetables are acceptable. This stir fry is poured onto the noodles. Chow mein is unique as its noodles are both soft in part but also crispy.
Pastelarias and Asian restaurants serve it in the entire country. They generally are presented in chicken (the most common), beef, shrimp and pork versions, with vegetarian and egg versions being much rarer. Brazilian yakisoba is typically served much more al dente than the Japanese, being also heavy in soy sauce, sesame oil, and vegetables, almost always including at least carrot, cabbage, onion and at least one dark green species (usually other than kale, collard, spinach, chicory or mustard) such as Chinese cabbage, and less often either bean sprouts, broccoli/broccolini, zucchini, shiitake, bell pepper and/or cucumber.
Chow mein is also common in Indian Chinese, Bangladeshi Chinese, and Pakistani Chinese cuisine. In India, it was introduced by the Chinese of Calcutta. It is usually offered Hakka or with gravy. Catering to vegetarian diets, there is an Indian variant, vegetable chow mein, which consists of noodles with cabbage, bamboo shoots, pea pods, green peppers, and carrots. In the New Delhi area, chow mein can sometimes include paneer with the mixture of noodles and vegetables. Another non-meat Indian variant includes scrambled egg as a protein source. Kolkata has its own variant that is called Calcutta Chowmin that also includes green chilli, chilli garlic, or hot garlic.
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