My favorite chow mein recipe is easy to make in less than 30 minutes and tossed with a delicious stir-fry sauce. Feel free to add meat, seafood, tofu, or whatever extra veggies you might like too!
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Chow Mein | 1-Minute Video
Chow Mein Ingredients:
Before we get to the full recipe below, here are a few important notes about the ingredients you will need to make this easy chow mein recipe:
Chow mein noodles: I make chow mein with dried Chinese egg noodles, which are usually labeled “chow mein noodles,” “stir-fry noodles” or “lo mein noodles” in American grocery stores. (Look for the long noodles and avoid buying the short canned chow mein noodles like these, which confusingly have the same name but are typically used more as a salad topping.) Alternately, you could use fresh Chinese egg noodles, either steamed (and ready to add to the stir-fry) or unsteamed (cook according to package instructions just shy of al dente). Or if you can’t find Chinese egg noodles, you’re welcome to use any other type of egg noodles, rice noodles, or other noodles (such as spaghetti) that you have on hand. These options obviously would not be traditional, but they’ll work in a pinch and will still be delicious.
Veggies: As I mentioned above, just about any stir-fry friendly veggies will work in this recipe. So I recommend raiding your crisper drawer to toss in whatever leftover veggies you have on hand. I used a simple mix of carrots, red bell pepper and shiitake mushrooms in the photos here. But see note below for other veggie options that would be delicious.
Greens: I added a bunch of chopped Napa cabbage to the stir-fry, but feel free to add in any other kind of chopped green cabbage that you prefer (or you could save a step and just purchase a bag of cole slaw). Or alternately, you could use baby spinach, kale, collards or other stir-fry-friendly greens instead.
Garlic and ginger: I recommend using lots of fresh garlic and ginger in this recipe, which really amp up the flavor. But if you don’t have fresh ginger on hand, you can use 1 teaspoon of ground ginger in the stir-fry sauce instead.
Scallions: We will sauté the white parts of the scallions along with the veggies, then use the green parts to sprinkle on top for a pop of crisp, fresh onion flavor in each bite.
Stir-fry sauce: Finally, I use a 5-ingredient stir-fry sauce in this recipe made with low-sodium soy sauce, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, toasted sesame oil, and a generous pinch of white pepper (or a few generous cracks of black pepper). If you don’t have shaoxing wine (also often labeled as Chinese cooking wine) in your pantry, you can substitute mirin, sherry, sake, or a sweeter white wine instead. Or, if you do not cook with alcohol, you can substitute some veggie stock or a splash of apple juice instead.
Tips For How To Make Chow Mein:
The full recipe is included below, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind for how to make the best chow mein:
Prep ingredients in advance: Things move quickly in this recipe. So I recommend having the sauce mixed and all of your veggies/garlic/ginger chopped and ready to go before you begin stir-frying.
Multi-task the noodles and veggies (optional): If you’d like to save a few extra minutes while making this recipe, you’re welcome to boil the noodles while stir-frying the veggies and then use tongs to transfer them from their pot of boiling water directly to the stir fry. Just be sure to time the noodles correctly so that they do not overcook.
Use a very hot pan for the stir-fry: The veggies and noodles are meant to sear quickly (not slowly steam) in this recipe. So crank up the heat and move quickly!
Try not to overcook the noodles: Cooking time recommendations on most noodle packages will often yield noodles that are completely al dente or even a bit overcooked. I recommend keeping a close eye on the noodles and testing them as they cook, and then drain them a minute or so before they reach al dente. (The noodles will finish cooking in the stir-fry.)
Don’t forget to taste and season the sauce: Give the noodles a quick taste before serving them to see if they need extra soy sauce, sesame oil and/or pepper.
Chow Mein Recipe Variations:
Here are some additional ways that you’re welcome to customize this chow mein recipe:
Add a protein: Add in a cooked protein of your choice to make chicken chow mein, beef chow mein, pork chow mein, shrimp chow mein, tofu chow mein, or whatever else might sound good. I recommend sautéing your protein and then transferring it to a clean plate before you begin to sauté the veggies, then you can add it back in just before serving.
Add extra (or different) veggies: Add in any other stir-fry-friendly veggies that you love best, such as asparagus, bean sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, green beans, onions, snow or snap peas, zucchini etc.
Use different noodles: Use fresh Chinese egg noodles, either steamed (and ready to add to the stir-fry) or unsteamed (cook according to package instructions just shy of al dente). Or if you can’t find chow mein noodles, you’re welcome to use any other type of egg noodles, rice noodles, or pasta noodles (such as spaghetti) that you have on hand. As I mentioned above, these noodles obviously would not be traditional, but they’ll work in a pinch and will still be delicious.
Make the stir-fry sauce. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl (or shake them together in a covered mason jar) until combined. Set aside until ready to use.
Par-boil the noodles. Cook the noodles in a large stock-pot of salted water until they are just a minute or so shy of al dente. (You want them to be nearly cooked, yet still have a bit of a chewy bite. They will finish cooking later in the sauté pan.) Transfer the noodles to a strainer, briefly rinse with lukewarm water and drain, then set aside until ready to add them to sauté pan below.
Sauté the veggies. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over high heat. Add the veggies and white parts of the scallions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Add the cabbage, ginger, and garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is softened and the garlic is fragrant.
Combine everything together. Add the cooked noodles to the sauté pan along with the sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, tossing the mixture occasionally, until the noodles are al dente.
Season. Taste the chow mein and add extra soy sauce and/or white pepper, if needed. (I like my noodles quite salty and peppery so I usually add more of both.)
Serve. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the green parts of the scallions, and enjoy!
Noodle options: I used traditional Chinese chow mein egg noodles for this recipe, which are usually labeled as “chow mein noodles,” “stir-fry noodles” or “lo mein noodles” in American grocery stores. (Look for the long noodles and avoid buying the short canned chow mein noodles like these, which have the same name but are used more as a salad topping.)
Shaoxing wine: Also sometimes labeled as “Chinese cooking wine,” this Chinese rice wine adds really great flavor to this dish and I highly recommend picking up a bottle if you regularly cook stir-fries. That said, if you do not have a bottle, you can sub in mirin, sherry, or a sweet white wine. Or, if you prefer not to cook with alcohol, you can just add in some vegetable stock (or even a splash of apple juice) instead.
Make it spicy: If you would like to give these noodles some heat, which I highly recommend, just add your desired amount of chili garlic sauce or Sriracha to the stir-fry sauce.