I am not vegetarian. But given a choice of this Vegetarian Chow Mein or a chicken chow mein, I would choose this one any day of the week. Because I am totally in love with the caramelised tofu. I can’t get enough of it. The crazy thing is that it is ridiculously easy to make – I feel like a fraud calling it “caramelised tofu”. It’s simply slices of tofu drizzled with soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine, then stir fried over high heat for 1 minute.
The traditional chow mein sauce contains oyster sauce (as well as meat). This vegetarian/vegan version of chow mein is very close to the traditional version, but I have created a sauce without oyster sauce in it.
I’ve included directions to make the sauce from scratch as well as the directions for making this using my Real Chinese All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce (Vegetarian version) which, if you have a stash of it on hand, makes this super quick to make because you already have the sauce ready made! This recipe is a classic example of why I always have a jar of the All Purpose Stir Fry sauce in the fridge (helps that it lasts months!).
This is a great 15 minute meal!
More Vegetarian versions of popular Asian dishes
Build your own stir fry using this All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce
Build your own stir fried Noodles
Vegetarian Chow Mein
- 6 oz / 180 g fresh chow mein noodles
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 cups shredded Chinese cabbage
- 1/2 cup carrot , julienned
- 2 scallion/shallot stems , cut into 2"/4cm pieces
- 1 cup bean sprouts
Tofu and marinade
- 5 oz / 150 g firm tofu , sliced
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
- 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp chilli garlic sauce or sriracha (optional)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup water
- White pepper
- Prepare noodles according to packet instructions (usually soaking it in boiling water).
- Combine tofu with marinade and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Heat oil in wok over high heat, add garlic and stir fry for 10 seconds.
- Add tofu and stir fry until starting to caramelise - about 1 minute. Stir fry gently so the tofu doesn't break.
- Add the cabbage and carrot and stir fry until the cabbage starts to wilt.
- Add the noodles, scallions/shallots, bean sprouts and sauce and stir fry until the noodles are warmed through and sauce evenly coats the noodles - about 1 minute. Don't cook it too much - the bean sprouts should still be quite crisp, not wilted.
- Serve immediately.
Directions using homemade Real Chinese All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce
- If you have a jar of homemade Real Chinese All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce, you do not need to make the marinade or sauce for this recipe.
- Substitute the tofu marinade with 1 tbsp Stir Fry Sauce
- Substitute the Sauce ingredients with 1/4 cup Stir Fry Sauce and 1/4 cup water.