Chow Mein is one of the most popular noodle dishes in the world. Originating from Northern China, it has spread to many corners of the world, becoming a universally beloved dish.
The dish has gone through many changes throughout its history, and has been altered to suit Western tastes. It is largely based on an authentic dish called “ch’ao mien,” in Mandarin, meaning “stir-fried noodles.”
This dish is usually made with peanut oil (groundnut oil) egg noodles, fried vegetables like cabbage, carrots, celery, and onions, soy sauce, and that classic Chinese ingredient oyster sauce. The noodles are cooked in boiling water until they are soft before they are finished off in the wok with the other ingredients.
Chow Mein is often garnished with spring/green onions and drizzled with sesame oil to serve.
You can add your protein of choice (chicken is the most popular in Chinese takeaways and restaurants) but beef, shrimp/prawns, duck or pork work just as well.
You can also leave it vegetarian, or even add tofu (which originated in China).
The Hong Kong version of the dish uses noodles which are fried in oil until they become crispy.
While this is a great variation and well worth trying, we are going to try and be as faithful as possible to the original idea of the dish as possible, and add the soft egg noodles to the wok (or pan) at the end for a couple of minutes before serving.
As with all great cooking simplicity and harmony of flavours are what’s most important.
Chinese cooking is about balancing opposites (yin and yang) salty and sweet, spicy and mild.
Chow Mein Recipe – Easy Authentic Guide
Chow Mein Step 1 – Prepare the Protein
Depending on your choice of protein, this stage might a little different. If you choose to leave your Chow Mein with just vegetables you can obviously skip this step.
If you are using tofu, you can add it to the pan at the same time as the vegetables as it cooks quickly.
If you are wanting to cook chicken, beef, duck or shrimp/prawns it’s best to cook it in a Chinese style stock which you can freeze and use again to avoid wastage.
This process is very quick and imparts moisture and flavour into your meat.
Add a chicken/duck breast/pork chop or steak per person to a stockpot or pan, and cover the meat with boiling water.
Add a 3cm piece of peeled fresh ginger and 2 peeled garlic cloves, as well as 4 tablespoons of soy sauce.
It will only take 6-8 minutes for your chicken or duck breast to be ready, and then you can shred the meat with a fork.
You can keep the water you boiled the meat in for another time.
We are also going to add some of the stock into the Chow Mein later.
If you’re using a cut of pork or beef steak you can boil it for 10 minutes and then chop it into equally sized pieces.
Chow Mein Step 2 – Chop the Vegetables
- 2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 3cm peeled and finely chopped ginger
- 1 Medium Carrot Chopped into Matchsticks
- 4 Spring/Green Onions Chopped on the Diagonal (to Serve)
- 1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil
- 1 Pack Of Beansprouts
- 1 Pack of Mangetout
- 1 Packet of Baby Corn
- Cook your egg noodles according to the packet’s instructions (around 2-3 minutes) and drain.
- Add the noodles to a bowl with 1 tablespoon of Sesame Oil, toss to coat the noodles evenly in the oil.
Chow Mein Step 3 – Stir Fry the Vegetables
- Ingredients For Chow Mein Sauce
- Make the sauce for the Chow Mein separately in a bowl before adding at the end.
- 1 Teaspoon Light Soy Sauce
- 1 Teaspoon Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Oyster Sauce
- 1 Teaspoon of Brown Sugar or Honey
- 2 Tablespoons Water
- 2 Tablespoons of the Stock You Made
Chow Mein Step 4 – Add the Noodles
When the noodles have cooked and are lovely and soft, sieve them and then add to the pan/wok. Toss them round to make sure they soak up all the great flavours in the pan/wok.
Chow Mein Step 5 – Serve the Chow Mein
Garnish with Spring/Green Onions – Chilli Oil to serve if you like.
If you enjoyed this article feel free to try this one on Tom Yum Goong Soup:
Or this one on Korean Fried Chicken:
For another great article on the subject of Chow Mein try here: