Street food - Why does my fried noodles often taste like seafood - ever wondered why ?

When I was in Thailand and Vietnam I often got the feeling that the ‘Chow Mein’ stir fried noodles I ordered with either pork or chicken had this distinct seafood flavour.

I honestly knew why, but I couldn’t prove it.
And I wouldn’t complain out of respect (which in many cases was not deserved, since mixing seafood with chicken/pork is a huge amateur mistake and NO GO)

I had my last meal in Bangkok at a 2 star Michelin restaurant- and with my own eyes I witnessed the chef searing my Ribeye steak in a wok used seconds before to cook prawns in.
Safe to say my ribeye tasted like prawns.

Look at this Street food guy from Cambodia.
People are full of respect of his skills as a so called chef, me not so much to be honest.

Pretty basic wok skills and mixing seafood with sausage………using the same wok and the same oil, HUGE FAIL and amateur behaviour.

Have you ever wondered why your chow mein pork or chicken taste of prawns ?


Not quite sure what you’re getting at here. I’ve had many great dishes with combined elements. Crab-stuffed chicken comes to mind, as well as numerous Asian dishes with multiple protein sources. Why the broad brush?


Unlike ’ Cantonese ’ or other form of ’ Chinese ’ style fried noodles where ’ soya sauce ’ are used as major seasoning agent. In other S.E Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia…etc. ’ Fish sauce aka Nuoc Nam/Cham’ are widely used instead. The sauce is derived from fermented anchovies…hence the fishy, seafood component to the salty and umami loaded taste profile.


FYI, generations ago, Chinese master chefs who worked in Imperial court’s kitchen accidentally crossed ’ lamb with fish ’ in a few of their creation. The result?..a super ’ UMAMI ’ taste profile was created…and loved by Emperors in power then. This even led to the combination of the Chinese character for ‘Fish’ with the Chinese character for ’ Lamb’ to create the Chinese word for ’ Umami’!!鮮 ( right hand side character denotes ‘lamb’ whilst left hand side character denotes ‘fish’ ).


Did they rinse the wok in between? Or did they simply cook one meal after another meal? That may be more acceptable and understood at lower end and especially street food, where they don’t have the mean. That being said, I just thought maybe a lot of it has to do with fish sauce or shrimp paste in many dishes.


Plus those tiny dried shrimp and dried scallops like to sneak into some dishes!

What I’m getting at is that I don’t like my fried noodles with chicken or pork to taste like seafood nor do I want my ribeye steak to taste like prawns unless I specifically order it.

Only an amateur or a careless chef would fry whole batches of seafood and whole batches of sausage in the same wok using the same oil.

Well Charles, if I want my fried noodles to have a seafood taste, I’ll either order it that way or the chef has to specifically tell me - either via the menu card or via his/her tongue - that I’m getting a fried noodle dish with added seafood flavour to my pork or chicken meat.

Perhaps you’ve disclosed the reason why I like my own homemade version of ‘Chow mein’ better than the one made at Asian restaurants & street food shops, even though they have the high btu burner I don’t have, I just don’t like seafood and will never be a fan of the taste nor the scent of seafood.

So many delicious Chinese dishes combine animal proteins.

Pork & shrimp dumplings, Wor Won Ton, my favourite Chinese Cdn dishes Cantonese Chow Mein and Tai Dop Voy, butterfly shrimp with bacon and egg!


Oh yes!! You are absolutely right!..and I totally forgot!
Yup! Tons of Chinese Dim Sums like Shiu Mai, Spring Rolls…have fillings comprising of both meat and seafood. Not to mention the famous ’ Yang Chow Fried Rice ’ where both shrimps and BBQ pork are present! Steamed Sticky glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf also has a combination of sun dried shrimp, diced Chinese preserved sausages and pork…and the list goes on and on! Singapore Chow Kwai Teoh noodles too


Is there anywhere you’d recommend for those Singapore Chow Kwai Teoh noodles in Markham or RH?

And of course, Buddha Jumps Over the Wall🤣

The most authentic rendition happens to be found in Scarborough and not RH or Markham!
Its a small hole-in-the wall place called ’ ONE2SNACK ', 8 Glen Watford Drive #26, Scarborough.!1s0x89d4d17127224fdd%3A0xc11bdf7a79522999!3m1!7e115!!5smalaysian%20food%20scarborough%2C%20sheppard%20and%20midland%20-%20Google%20Search!15sCgIgAQ&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipPEOyDmWNvCWr-grUJKB5wsAY1tPO7qHjg3_8f1&hl=en

As for ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’, O’Mei has a ready to serve version. However, I found their broth lacking complexity. Other higher-end Cantonese restaurants like Skyview Fusion, My Wonderful kitchen, Chef elite 88, Providential 9, Yang’s, The One Fusion…used to offer ’ advance pre-order ’ ones. However, due to price, labour intensiveness and most of all COVID, unsure about current status. Better give them a call!!

I saw the lamb and seafood combo here. Have not tasted the particular combination myself.

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I’ve had pork and crab XLB many times but in an XLB, I currently order my pork straight, no crab!

Yeah. I am sorry about your experience. You will have better luck with higher end restaurants where they do tend to do a better job rinsing and cleaning between cooking sessions to remove residue taste. Now, if the seafood you taste is intentional addition like fish sauce or shrimp paste or anything of sort, then you just have to make it known.

I think Southeast Asian cuisines like Thai and Vietnamese will just have too much seafood for you.


I thought that, as I added some fish sauce to my Vietnamese roast chicken marinade tonight :fish:

I accidentally discovered fish sauce in grad school. I think back then I just have too much time, and walking down the supermarket isles was adventuristic to me. Long story short, I was looking at all the cans and sauces and came across all these fish sauces and decided to get one. I was pleasantly surprised to taste something so unique and yet nice.

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I usually get XLB pork only because I find the pork and crab aren’t typically better, but I’m definitely a huge fan of meat and seafood and am actually planning on some braised pork and shrimp meatballs hopefully this week. The lamb and seafood combo is one I’ve yet to try. If I could get lamb here I’d consider trying it out, but at best I can get goat and I’m not the biggest fan (it can be good but I don’t seek it out).


I don’t make baozi, but I use pork and shrimp in jaozi. Excellent combination in my opinion. :drooling_face:

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