Retro Chow Mein

ImageIf you follow food blogs, you already know that anything “retro” is currently popular. I just saw a recipe for a tomato soup cake on Food 52 that I remember vividly from my childhood. Here’s my addition to this current trend.

This recipe came from a Betty Crocker Cookbook that was popular in the 1950’s. Hardly Chinese! To be fair, I don’t think that Chow Mein is authentic either. It was something that Chinese restaurants developed to appeal to Americans.

This is a classic remembered taste of something you might have had years ago on your first trip to a Chinese restaurant. It requires a bit of slicing and dicing, but it’s easy to pull together and tastes great.


1/4 C vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 C sliced Chinese cabbage (Bok Choy)
3 C sliced celery (I use half onion; half celery)
bean sprouts (small package of fresh)
1 can water chestnuts (rinse them well)
2 tsp sugar
2 C chicken broth
2 TBS corn starch
1/4 C soy sauce
1/4 C water
2 C diced cooked chicken


1. Heat oil, salt and pepper in a deep pan.
2. Add the cabbage, onions, celery, bean sprouts, water chestnuts and sugar, Stir to combine.
3. Add the chicken broth; cook approximately 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
4. Mix the corn starch, water and soy sauce; add to the vegetables. Stir until thickened.
5. Add the chicken and heat through.
6. Serve with rice or crispy chow mein noodles. Keep the soy sauce handy if anyone wants it a bit saltier.

In general, I prefer spicy Szechuan or Hunan style Chinese food, but there’s something about this inauthentic dish that’s a throwback to a simpler time. Sort of like Campbell’s tomato soup. I routinely make my own soup, but there are times when there’s nothing better than good old Campbell’s tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. Chicken Chow Mein is the Chinese equivalent of that for me.


About Mary Jane

I am a retired English teacher. My husband, Frank, and I have lived on Cape Cod since 2000. I am a lifelong bread baker and writer and have been posting a blog on Falmouth Patch for the last few years. Savory Seasons has been largely devoted to recipes and food in general. I am hoping to expand my focus in this new blog.
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