I don’t know how long Trader Joe’s has had Chicken Chow Mein in the frozen section. I want to say for over 10 years (as of 2019). It’s been one of those things I always look at and say, I should do a review of that!
Well, that day is today. I FINALLY, bought a bag of this after strolling by it for as long as I’ve been doing this blog. Obviously, it’s a very popular product because it’s always there and never seems to go away.
This is unfortunate because after trying it, I think Trader Joe’s should let their Chicken Chow Mein die and quick death and go to the Trader Joe’s graveyard of discontinued products.
Chow Mein is the Fried Rice of noodles. There really isn’t a single way to make this dish. It’s all over the map and from Korea to China to Japan to Indonesia, there is a type of stir-fried noodle dish with meat and vegetables in all these countries. This is very similar to fried rice which is a hodgepodge of things stir-fried with rice, except substitute noodles. Chow Mein in the USA means stir-fried meat and vegetables. There is a Hong Kong variant where they deep fry the noodles a bit before they stir fry. But most of the chow mein in the USA has been modified to local tastes.
I would say that Trader Joe’s Chow Mein is the middle-of-the-road boring type of chow mein. Chicken, noodles, and some vegetables that aren’t all that interesting. This is a single bag meal, just dump it in a pan and cover and stir fry until done then dump the sauce on it and serve when the sauce melds with the rest of the ingredients. It’s the ultimate bachelor food or food for a family that needs something quick for those hungry kids.
I followed the instructions using my nonstick wok to cook this up. A little bit of oil then dump the whole bag (minus the sauce packet) into the pan and then cover until things are thawed out and cooked.
Toss a few times then dump the sauce packet on and stir until all incorporated. I tasted the sauce and like Trader Joe’s Kung Pao chicken, it’s too sweet for my tastes so I only put half of the sauce in and then added about a tablespoon of soy sauce to give it a little more flavor. Everything got real sticky and when it was all done, I put it in a bowl to eat it.
I’m glad I didn’t use the whole sauce packet, it was pretty darn sweet. As for the rest of it, it was meh. There were limp noodles and hardly enough chicken and veggies to make up the difference.
I guess if your goal is to get some food in your belly as quickly as possible, this is it. If I was going to jazz it up a bit, I would dump some more vegetables in and make my own sauce out of soy sauce, sherry, and sesame oil. Salt and pepper and maybe a pinch of hot pepper. It would be much better without the sugar. Maybe some siracha sauce. Anything to give it more flavor.
I probably wouldn’t buy this again since I could make this from scratch at about the same time as the bag and for less money and make it taste better.
cooked noodles (enriched wheat flour [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, salt, potassium carbonate, sodium carbonate), sauce (soy sauce [water, soybeans, wheat, salt], water, sugar, sherry wine, modified corn starch, hoisin sauce [sugar, water, sweet potato, salt, modified corn starch, soybeans, spices, sesame seeds, wheat flour, garlic, chili pepper, acetic acid], contains 2% or less of chicken. fat, xanthan gum, dehydrated onion, guar gum, chicken broth, beef powder, spices, contain, rosemary), broccoli, red bell peppers, grilled seasoned diced chicken breast with rib meat (chicken breast with rib meat, water, salt, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate), onions, carrots.