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Trying to make authentic, restaurant-style Shanghai noodles... please help?

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http://www.meltingwok.com/2007/07/sti...
I made this recipe tonight.
I was missing:
-fish sauce (substituted soy sauce for it because I am vegetarian
)-chinese mustard greens
-white pepper

and I was unsure of the difference between "sweet" and "thick" soy sauce because I googled them and they seem to be the same thing, so I used the sweet soy sauce I had for both.

Overall, it turned out well, but it just lacked that addictive quality that restaurant ones seem to have.

My favourite Shanghai noodles are from the Pacific Mall food court and Kom Jug Yuen- those are what I would like my noodles to taste like. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to make my noodles taste more authentic and restaurant quality? Are there specific ingredients I'm lacking that will make my noodles better, or is experience the key?

Thank you!

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  1. There isn't one recipe for Shanghai noodles, everyone has their own take. You might want to try adding a little hoisin sauce and oyster sauce (sorry-you said you were a vegetarian), I find adding a little of both to most Chinese dishes does the trick.

    Emeril Lagasse recipe for Shanghai fried noodles:
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...

    1. You answered your own question. The recipe calls for fish sauce and while the mall court probably uses the cheapest kind they are probably not subbing soy sauce.SS and FS are very different yet salty/savory flavors.

      3 Replies
      1. re: just_M

        Okay, thanks for the tip- I assumed fish sauce wasn't important because Shanghai noodles had no fish taste to me (which is a stupid assumption, I know). Thing is, I don't know what fish sauce tastes like because I am a vegetarian. Can you describe what it tastes like at all?

        1. re: billfrist

          Fish sauce doesn't have a fish flavor or discernibly fishy scent. I just went down to the kitchen and sniffed soy, Worcestershire and fish sauce. The soy was richly scented like coffee, the Worcestershire was less rich but with a bit of funk, and the fish sauce is light like a broth but with a good bit of funk like brewers yeast. Taste wise they are also very different the soy was rich like coffee and sharply salty, the Worcestershire was less rich, less salty and a bit of toe jam funk (no I have not to my knowledge tasted toe jam ;-?) the fish sauce was clean like a clear broth but salty and pretty funky again brewers yeast comes to mind but fish sauce is a more concentrated funk. I'm pretty sure they have a vegetarian version of fish sauce. Another thought I had was steeping seaweed, actually you should probably boil it as I was told never to boil seaweed as it would make the broth fishy. Perhaps after steeping the broth it could be reduced to up the funk and then add some sea salt if its not as intensely salty as soy. Sounds like a pain but seaweed does have a high mineral content so you'd get extra nutrition .

          1. re: just_M

            Thanks for the extensive reply and for going out of your way to help. You seem to be one of the rare people in the wold who can actually TASTE, which is a huge relief.
            I'll try both the vegetarian fish sauce and the seaweed idea- I want to get this perfect!

      2. Perhaps you could clarify. Do you want to make the noodles themselves or the particular dish?

        3 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          The dish. The noodles themselves turned out quite well.

          1. re: billfrist

            How did you make the noodles?

            1. re: c oliver

              I got a package of pre-cooked shanghai noodles and softened them in hot water as directed on the package.

        2. You need, in combo, a nice seasoned wok and a nice gas stove, which when combined will result in a nice f-cking hot wok.

          That's what you're missing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Thanks- I'm planning to pick up a good-quality wok soon (I have a shitty fake one at home) and that will probably make a huge difference. A better stove isn't something I can do at the moment, unfortunately.

          2. Forget the thick soy sauce, I don't even use it at home. Just plain old soy sauce and some sugar. Found that secret from a Cantonese restaurant I frequent.

            4 Replies
            1. re: monku

              What is the sugar/soy sauce ratio you use?

              1. re: billfrist

                No ratio, maybe 1/2 tablespoon of sugar at the most to a couple tablespoons of soy sauce. I don't want it "sweet" just enough to take the edge off the saltiness a bit. Try some hoisin sauce. I'm not a fan of fish sauce, but it takes very little, maybe 1/2 teaspoon is all I ever use.
                Don't get hung up on the soy sauce brands. I see you trying to hunt down that ABC brand. Your favorite restaurants are probably using the cheapest brand they can.

                1. re: monku

                  Thanks, I'll try both of those recommendations and keep in mind that those restaurants are probably not as perfectionistic as I am.
                  Do you just mix the sugar and soy sauce, or heat them at all?

                  1. re: billfrist

                    No need to pre-mix. Just add while you're stir frying.
                    If you ever watch chefs in a Chinese restaurant they have containers next to the wok and they dip the corner of the spatula in for dry seasonings like sugar, salt, MSG, pepper. They'll use the ladle for stuff wet stuff like soy sauce, stock and corn starch slurry.

                    One day you will achieve "wok hay"...

            2. Would Shanghai noodles have fish sauce in them though? I think of it as more of a SE Asian ingredient as opposed to a more northerly Chinese one. I'm always trying to nail Shanghai noodles too (love them) so read every recipe that crosses my path and I've never seen fish sauce listed.

              There should be a touch of sweetness which the posted recipe is lacking, so either 1/2 - 1 tsp of sugar or a good blob of hoisin would be good (as mentioned by Monku). Also a bit of chili paste and a tbsp or 2 of Xiaozing [sp?] wine or sherry would perk it up.