26 May 2008

Milk Calendar Mondays: Faster-than-Take-Out Chicken and Veggie Chow Mein

Hmmm...this month's Milk Calendar recipe, "Faster-than-Take-Out Chicken and Veggie Chow Mein," seems to have unleashed my not-so inner snarkiness.

Let's start with the title.

Could it be any longer?

Well, yes it could be.

It could be something like "Here's another excuse to use some perfectly good milk in a recipe which would be better off without it, but we can't admit it because this is the Milk Calendar, and we need to encourage people to cook with milk, so stirfries are fast and easy so we'll get people to use milk in their stirfries and cook at home instead of getting a greasy takeaway which actually tastes better but again, we can't admit to that either."

Like most marketing ploys, the title was more spin than fact. It took me longer than the indicated 20 minutes (prep and cooking) to get the meal on a plate. Granted, I'm not the speediest slicer or shrimp peeler and "deveiner," but I don' think I'm *that* slow.

"Wait a minute. Shrimp? I thought that was funny looking chicken." I hear you think (warning: I've gone back to reading your minds).

Yes, you are correct. That is shrimp.

Which brings me to snarkiness fodder number two:

I decided to go with the "adventurous" suggestions of using shrimp instead of chicken, and add hoisin sauce, soy sauce and Chinese cabbage to the wok.

Woo. That's really adventurous, isn't it? I mean, if I were allergic to shrimp or Chinese leaf, I suppose it would be, but I'm not allergic to those things.

The thing is...I don't know anyone who's never made a stir-fry...which is what this really is. I've always treated such edible beasties as kitchen sink suppers: slice up whatever's lying around, toss them into a hot wok with onions, garlic and ginger, stir it about and add spices and sauces before tipping onto some steaming noodles et voila! Stir-fry.

But I guess, technically, this isn't a regular stirfry. It's a chow mein. According to a non-Chinese friend it means slice up whatever's lying around, toss them into a hot wok with onions, garlic and ginger, stir it about and add spices and sauces before tipping onto some steaming noodles et voila! Chow mein.

The recipe itself wasn't too bad, and unless you're feeding a professional hockey player, the recipe provides ample portioning for six...or gargantuan portioning for the recommend four people.

Again, I didn't see the point of the milk in the saucing. I'm convinced it contributed to an odd nursery food-like smell: sort of sickly sweet and reminiscent of the smell emanating from children who are fed far too many processed foods by parents who either don't know how to properly feed their wee ones or are too self-obsessed to spend more than the minimum amount of time in the kitchen, with anything that vaguely resembled food untouched by food scientists and marketers. You know the smell.

So...the verdict? It's not a bad recipe (well, it's not a truly great one--but it's not in the running for the worst). If I were to categorise it, it would fall into the "with a few tweaks it could be more palatable" category. But then, it's a food that doesn't really need a recipe...does it?


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glamah16 said...

Looks way better than takeout. I bet it was goo too!

Mama Squirrel said...

Can't wait to see how you deal with next month's curry. Grin.

glamah16 said...

OK. Now reading about it , the milk bit is a turnoff.But the picture still looks good.I'll take all the ingrediants minus the milk.

K and S said...

I agree with Glamah! :)

Gigi said...

i agree with glamah16, this does look better than take out! do you think if i left out the milk it would be better?

Thistlemoon said...

Nice post! I really agree with you about things like this not needing a recipe, but I guess it is a good way to show people not very adpet in the kitchen, how to just throw things together?

But I too get really annoyed with marketing ploys that add ingredients to things that are so unecessary!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I once was going along with a recipe the last part was a second topping and asked the kitchen 'why', the kitchen answered 'no reason' left it off and the dish was great without.
Guess I'd just leave the milk out. But in this case I'm glad it was in the recipe because we'd not have gotten your humor without.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

My instant reaction was -- milk? In a stir-fry? Seems a bit contrived.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I love your snark, but reading this made me miss having a wok. Yes, you read that right. I haven't had a wok since moving to Italy. It is now time to buy a new one, but I won't be using any milk ;)

Jenny said...

See this is why I use my milk calendar to write dates on, and not cook from! :-)
Thanks so much for sacrificing yourself for the rest of us, Jasmine.

Elizabeth said...

Aha. Now you're starting to sound like me. The first thing I said when I saw the recipe, was "what on EARTH is milk doing there?" and the second thing was to go directly down to the "adventurous" section to see what ludicrous suggestions were there.

More and more, the milk calendar offerings (for several years now) are reinforcing the punch-line to that joke about the definition of a Canadian: someone who finds Kentucky Fried Chicken to be a bit too spicy.

-Elizabeth (who me? ultra-snarky?)

P.S. I'm afraid to look at June's curry recipe

jasmine said...

Hello all

How many of us remember the song "She ain't pretty, she just looks that way?" That's what I think of this one...

Elizabeth -- I spy a gal after mine own heart.