They provide a crunchy texture and a nice fatty, deep-fried tasting garnish to many different types of dishes such as salads, soups, sauce dishes or desserts.
In addition to being used as a garnish, they can be used as a base for saucy dishes to be poured over. A few famous refrigerator drop cookie recipes also use them as a key ingredient. They are also used for decorating food at Hallowe’en (e.g. spider legs.)
They are very addictive to eat as a snack food, once you have opened the packet or the tin.
The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t consider the egg content high enough in these noodles to be legally classed as noodles, but they gave up trying to fight popular parlance. In an “Administration Information Letter” (No. 84, December 29, 1948), they wrote, “we have, after a great deal of consideration, decided against any attempt to enforce this policy with respect to the so-called chow mein noodles, either wet or fried.”
Not the same as regular chow mein noodles, which are what is used in China.
Cook dried noodles, either real chow mein noodles or another type of long noodle or pasta, in boiling water according to package directions. Drain, chop into small lengths (or break into small lengths before you even start), then deep fry in oil until crunchy. This is a lot of fuss, though, so you may wish to just omit altogether or use something else that will give crunch, such as slivered almonds, water chestnuts, etc.
High in fat.
Fried Chow Mein Noodles became widely popular in North America in the 1970s. A food manufacturer, “Chun King”, (since 1995 owned by Conagra, the same people who currently own Parkay margarine) sold “shelf-stable” Chinese dinners. The dinners were a box in which there were the various tins of things you would need to prepare a complete Chinese meal. Just enough prep was left to be done so that the housewife would feel she had actually cooked a meal. One of the tins was a tin of Fried Chow Mein Noodles, and this was one of the more popular tins in the box: somehow, there were never enough of them in the tin, especially if someone had started munching in the kitchen.