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This homemade Chow Mein is just as tasty as the one from your favorite Chinese restaurant, but made in even less time! The highlight of this vegetable-loaded noodle dish is the savory sauce – and that it can be made even heartier with the addition of your favorite protein.
Chow Mein Recipe
Everyone has a favorite Chinese takeout meal. My husband’s is BBQ pork spareribs. My best friend’s is sesame chicken.
Traditionally, my faves have alway involved noodles. I’m not sure what makes Chinese noodles so much tastier that the rest – maybe it’s the sticky soy-based sauces they use. Or maybe it’s because they’re ready in, like, 3 minutes.
I do usually lean towards lo mein, but since making this Chow Mein recipe, I think I might switch it up a little more often!
What is Chow Mein?
Chow Mein, literally translated to “stir fried noodles,” is a Chinese meal consisting of noodles and various vegetables. At its most basic composition, it is a vegetarian dish, but it is sometimes served with meat or tofu.
In Westernized Chinese restaurants, there are two ways Chow Mein can be served:
- Steamed, like this recipe, is popular on the West coast of the US
- Crispy, also known as Hong Kong-style, is more common on the East coast
Steamed Chow Mein has a soft texture, much like lo mein, and is tossed with a soy-based sauce and vegetables. The Hong Kong-style is made using deep fried noodles in a thicker brown sauce.
How to Make Chow Mein
Making this Chinese favorite is so quick and easy! Scroll down to the printable recipe for detailed instructions.
- First, prepare your Chow Mein noodles (try these (like to Wel-Pac Chow Mein Stir Fry Noodles), or pick up your favorite at the grocery store) according to package directions. Set aside.
- While the noodles are boiling, prepare the Chow Mein sauce. Chow Mein sauce is customizable to your own tastes, just like many other Chinese sauces. In this version, I combined oyster sauce, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, cornstarch, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Whisk together until well blended and set aside.
- Prepare the vegetables you are using, and gather everything close to the stovetop – Chinese cooking happens very quickly!
- When you’re ready to cook, heat a bit of cooking oil in a wok set over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and ginger to the wok and stir fry for 10-15 seconds.
- Add the white parts of the scallions, sliced celery and mushrooms to the wok. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the chopped bok choy and cook until it is just wilted, about 1 minute.
- Finally, stir in the cooked noodles and sauce mixture. Stir fry everything for 1 minute, tossing constantly, until everything is well coated and warmed through.
- Remove the wok from the heat, add the green parts of the scallion, and toss. Serve immediately.
Customizing this Recipe
Customize your chow mein with anything you’ve got! The beauty of Chinese cooking is that it’s adaptable.
- If you’re looking to make authentic steamed Chow Mein, stick with garlic, ginger, celery and onions or scallions. Carrots, bean sprouts, and cabbage or bok choy are also often added.
- Other ingredients that make a great Chow Mein include mushrooms, snap peas, bell peppers, squash, broccoli, bamboo shoots, baby corn, or water chestnuts.
- You can also make the meal heartier by adding a protein! This Chow Mein recipe is a great dish for using leftovers, so slice up some leftover cooked chicken breast, grilled steak, or pork roast, or add some shrimp or sauteed tofu to the final product.
- If you really enjoy saucy noodles, then I recommend doubling the sauce recipe. The noodles do tend to soak up the sauce, so play around with it until you get the ratio just right for you!
What to do with leftovers
If you have leftovers, store in an airtight container within 2 hours and place in the fridge. Chow Mein will stay fresh for 3-4 days. You can reheat in a skillet or in the microwave. You may need to add a small amount of water to rehydrate the noodles.
Freezing instructions are the same – airtight container within 2 hours. For best quality, thaw and eat within 2-3 months.
More Asian-style Dinners To Enjoy!
Even More Vegetarian Recipes!
Chow Mein Sauce
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons mirin Chinese cooking wine
- 3 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 pound chow mein noodles
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger freshly grated
- 3 scallions cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green pieces separated
- 3 stalks celery thinly sliced
- 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms
- 3 cups bok choy chopped (or green/Napa cabbage)
- Optional additions - bean sprouts carrots, snow peas, green onion, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, cabbage, shredded or chopped chicken/pork/beef, or shrimp
- In a small bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, cornstarch, and sesame oil. Set aside.
- Prepare chow mein noodles according to package directions. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 10-15 seconds. Add white parts of scallion, celery, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in bok choy until just wilted, about 1 minute.
- Stir in noodles and oyster sauce mixture and stir fry for 1 minute, tossing constantly. Add green parts of scallion and toss. Serve immediately.