Bite Of Minnesota: Subgum Chow Mein

I’ve long been a fan of chow mein. When we were younger, my brother worked at Chung King Garden in Burnsville and our family would devour big containers of chicken chow mein and egg rolls after his shifts. It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned about other menu items like sesame chicken, kung pao shrimp, and cream cheese wontons, but I still gravitated towards chicken chow mein.

Since Chung King Garden closed years ago, I haven’t been able to find a chow mein to my liking. Some were too plain, consisting mostly of celery, while others had questionable ingredients, making it unappetizing. I never thought of making it myself until a St. Louis Park restaurant, Wok in the Park, posted their recipe for Subgum Chow Mein. This recipe comes from the longstanding Nankin restaurant that served many Minnesotans over its 80-year history until it closed in 1999.

After a quick run to the grocery store, I put this recipe together and have to say that it was so fantastic that I packaged up a few servings for my brother who shared in my excitement. So here’s the Subgum Chow Mein recipe courtesy of Wok in the Park.

Subgum Chow Mein
Wok in the Park
(serves 4-6)

Note: I used tofu in my dish and used a mix of hoisin sauce and Worcestershire sauce instead of oyster sauce. I highly suggest prepping all the ingredients before cooking and the process will flow smoothly.

2 cups diced chicken (or protein of choice)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (2 tbsp if only using veggies, seafood or steamed tofu)
4 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
2 cups celery
½ cup onion
½ cup bell pepper
½ cup water chestnuts
½ cup bamboo shoots
½ cup snow peapods
½ cup green cabbage
½ cup carrot
½ cup white mushrooms
½ roasted cashews

4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp mirin rice wine
2 tbsp brown sugar
¼- ½ tsp white or black pepper to taste
4 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 6 tbsp cool water

Chopped green onion, for garnish
Chopped cashews, for garnish

To prepare, cut all veggies diagonally into 1/2 –inch pieces and and mix together sauce ingredients in a bowl.

Heat oil in wok until bubbly, toss in protein of choice, stir fry until just cooked. Remove protein from the pan and reserve on a plate.

Discard excess oil, leaving a small layer in the pan. Sauté garlic and ginger over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds, return protein to the pan and toss to coat. Remove protein, garlic, and ginger, and set aside.

Add broth to the pan and increase heat to high. When broth is rapidly boiling, add celery, onion, bell pepper, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, peapods, cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms and return to a rapid boil and add sauce. Return to a boil yet again and add cornstarch/water mixture. Cook for 1 minute and return protein, garlic, and ginger to the pan with the veggies. Add cashews and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are to desired doneness.

Serve over steamed rice and with crispy chow mein noodles. Garnish with chopped green onions and additional chopped cashews if desired.

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