A great Chow Mein comes down to the sauce – it takes more than just soy sauce and sugar! Jam packed with a surprising amount of hidden vegetables, customise this Chicken Chow Mein recipe using your protein of choice.
I want to say that Chow Mein is my favourite noodle-child but I’m worried that I’ve said that in another recipe (or two… or three…🙈).
Because there is, after all, some heavy hitting noodle competition in this big wide world. Pad See Ew (Thai Stir Fried Noodles), Singapore Noodles, Yakisoba (Japanese noodles), Pad Thai – just to name a few.
But Chow Mein is right up there and it’s not just because it’s noodle-slurpingly delicious, but also because of the following:
- Tons of hidden veggies– 4 cups of cabbage, carrot and bean sprouts, all in “noodle shapes” so they just meld right in there with the noodles so you have no idea how much you’re actually consuming (it’s like feeding a child);
- Cabbage lasts for ages, I always have it in stock and it’s the key vegetable in Chow Mein;
- Quick ‘n easy – it’s no exaggeration when I say this is faster than home delivery;
- Versatile– as all stir fries are. Switch the proteins and veg as you please;
- Charlie– Chow Mein can be made from scratch, or using Charlie, my all purpose Stir Fry Sauce that I always have on hand. Yes, I named him because I love him so much.
Chow Mein Noodles
Chow Mein is Chow Mein instead of being just another generic stir fried noodles because it’s made with Chow Mein noodles. They are thin crinkly looking noodles that are lightly coated in flour.
Here’s an up close and personal of Chow Mein noodles. The supermarket version by Fantastic Noodles is slightly more yellow than it should be but it’s just as tasty.
You could also use Ramen Noodles or other instant noodles – just toss the packet seasoning!
Ingredients in Chow Mein
Other than noodles, Chow Mein almost always has cabbage, bean sprouts and carrot, then your choice of protein. I’m pretty sure Chicken Chow Mein is by far the most popular, but I have no facts or figures to back that up. 😉
I like to use chicken thigh for stir fries because it’s juicier than breast and tenderloin. If I make this with chicken breast, I always tenderise it using a Chinese restaurant technique using baking soda (bi-carb). It’s super simple, see directions here: How to Velvet Chicken.
Chow Mein Sauce
The Chow Mein Sauce is very simple:
- soy sauce
- Oyster Sauce
- Chinese cooking wine aka Shaoxing wine OR Mirin (see recipe for subs)
- sesame oil
- sugar and pepper
- cornflour / cornstarch – for thickening.
The Chinese cooking wine is the key ingredient that makes home cooking truly rival takeout – your local Chinese restaurant uses Chinese cooking wine in virtually everything!!
Chow Mein vs Lo Mein
We could get into technicalities here – authentic roots and Chinese translation – but I’m just going to cut to the chase: Chow Mein as we know it outside of China is made with thin crinkly type noodles which are lightly coated in flour, whereas Lo Mein are wider noodles that are slippery. Both are yellow because they’re egg noodles.
Both are delicious. They just have different textures. [END!!!]
Crispy vs Non Crispy Chow Mein
Here in Australia, we have both crispy and non crispy Chow Mein noodle dishes. Crispy Chow Mein is made by deep frying chow mein noodles until crispy, then it’s served smothered with a saucy Chop Suey stir fry . I shared a non deep fried version of Crispy Chow Mein years ago – I really should update this recipe and add a video!
This recipe is the “other” Chow Mein, the non crispy version where the noodles are tossed in a sauce.
The fact of the matter is, no matter what protein you use, what vegetables and even what noodles, you’re going to end up with a bowl of slurp-worthy noodles as long as you use the Sauce recipe plus the same quantity of noodles + other stuff (veg, protein etc) so the flavour isn’t diluted.
So don’t get too hung up on the exact noodle type! Concentrate on the sauce. The sauce, the sauce!! – Nagi x
PS Totally fine to make this in a skillet instead of a wok. Just be sure to use a big one – so your noodles don’t go flying as you enthusiastically toss.
Great noodles from around the world
- Pad Thai and Pad See Ew (Thai Stir Fried noodles)
- Singapore Noodles
- Char Kway Teow
- Build Your Own Chinese Noodles
- Browse the Noodle recipes collection!
And the quick ramen noodle collection
- Asian Mushroom Ramen Noodles – caramelised mushrooms in a sweet-savoury glaze tossed through ramen noodles
- Quick Beef Ramen Noodles
- Chicken Vegetable Ramen Noodles
- Noodle Salad with Creamy Sesame Peanut Sauce – terrific for work lunches!
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Chicken Chow Mein
- 200 g /6oz chicken thigh fillets , cut into bite size pieces (Note 1 tenderise option)
- 3 - 4 cups green cabbage or Chinese cabbage , finely shredded (Note 3)
- 1 1/2 tbsp peanut oil (or other cooking oil)
- 2 cloves garlic , finely chopped
- 200 g /6 oz fresh chow mein noodles (Note 2)
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 3 shallot/scallions/green onions , cut into 5cm/2" pieces
- 1/4 cup / 65 ml water
Chow Mein Sauce:
- 2 tsp cornflour / cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce , all purpose or light (Note 4)
- 1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Note 5)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- White pepper
- Mix together cornflour and soy sauce, then mix in remaining ingredients.
- Alternative: Use 1/3 cup Chinese All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce, if you have some in stock.
- Marinate Chicken: Pour 1 tbsp of Sauce over the chicken, mix to coat, set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
- Noodles: Prepare the noodles according to the packet instructions (my pack says soak in boiled water for 1 minute), then drain.
- Heat oil in wok or large fry pan over high heat.
- Add garlic and stir fry for 10 seconds or until it starts to turn golden - don't let it burn!
- Add chicken and stir fry until the surface gets a tinge of browning but inside is still raw - about 1 minute.
- Add the cabbage, carrot, and the white pieces of shallots (i.e. from the base of the stalk). Stir fry for 1 1/2 minutes until the cabbage is mostly wilted.
- Add the noodles, Sauce and water*. Stir fry for 1 minute, tossing constantly.
- Add bean sprouts and remaining shallots/scallions. Toss through for 30 seconds or until the bean sprouts just start to wilt.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately.
- Garlic - don't use mincer/garlic press or jarred garlic, they burn too quickly. Finely chop it.
- Skillet is fine, just use a big one so the noodles don't go flying when you toss.
7. NUTRITION is for 2 servings which are BIG servings. I actually think this recipe is more like 3 servings - but I say 2 servings just to be safe!
LIFE OF DOZER
Throw stick, dashes after it, plonks down and eats it.
Someone needs to teach this Golden Retriever how to retrieve. (I failed)