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Chow Mein Ultimate Guide

All you need to know to make an easy, yummy and healthy Chow Mein at home

by HomeNaturallyMade
Published: Last Updated on
Best Chow Mein {Easy Yummy Healthy}

Chow Mein or Chinese fried noodles is a traditional quick easy everyday home cooking in China, which has also become one the most popular Chinese restaurant take-out food. This Chinese Stir-Fried Noodle ultimate guide will explain all you need to know in order to cook a deliciously easy and healthy Chow Mein.

Freshly Made Chow Mein in the Wok

What is Chow Mein?

Chow Mein is Cantonese phonetics for Stir Fried Noodles. “Chow” Or “Chao” {炒} per Roman pinyin systems, which is widely adopted in mainland China, means fry or stir fry. “Mein” or “Mian” {面} means noodles.

Chinese Fried Noodles is a popular one pot meal. To make Chow Mein, you basically stir fry cooked noodles with vegetables. It is also quite common to add pre-cooked chicken, pork, beef, or shrimps to the mix to complete the meal.

chow mein ingredients

Chow Mein Frequently Asked Questions:

What’s Different Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein?

The difference is all about whether you stir-fry noodles together with the rest of the ingredients or not.

If you do, then it is Chow Mein. Usually, the noodles are drier and stiffer because of stir-frying. People also use more soy sauce, especially the restaurant version, which makes Chow Mein looks darker.

If you only stir-fry ingredients without noodles first, and then turn off the heat and mix in the cooked noodles, then it is Lo Mein. Therefore, the noodles in Lo Mein are usually in noodles’ original color and are softer. People typically use less soy sauce, thus the color is lighter compared to Chow Mein.

Is Chow Mein Healthy?

It can be, especially if you use homemade noodles, add a variety of vegetables and not use excessive soy sauce.

chow mein

Can I make a vegetarian or vegan version?

Absolutely! Choose a vegetable cooking oil such as canola oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil for stir-fry. Drizzle a splash of sesame oil toward the end to enhance the flavor.

What’s in a Chow Mein?

Ingredients for Chow Mein usually include below key items:

  1. Cooked Noodles
  2. Fat or Oil
  3. Vegetable Assortment
  4. Dark and Light Soy Sauce
  5. The Optional Pre-cooked Protein of Your Choice

What are my noodle options?

If you have time to make either homemade egg noodles or plain noodles in advance, they are excellent choices.

You can also choose from a wide variety of store-bought dry noodles including egg noodles or Yang Chun noodles. These days I also become a fan of these organic spaghetti, when cooked right, they are wonderful for making Chinese Fried Noodles or Noodle Salad.

authentic Chinese Chow Mein

How to cook noodles for a firm bite spongy texture?

One important thing to keep in mind is that the optimally cooked noodles for Chow Mein need to be moist but have a spongy texture so they can better handle the stir-fry process without getting either dried out or mushy.

The key to moist while spongy noodles are to boil a big pot of water for making a relatively small amount of noodles. The less time used to cook the noodle, the better the noodle tastes. Check out how to cook dry pasta or noodles for more details.

How to pick an optimally balanced vegetable assortment?

We need two types of vegetables: flavoring herbs and additional complementary vegetables.

Flavoring herbs is to provide a unique aroma and taste to the noodles. Onion, green onion, leek, garlic leaves, and cilantro are all excellent choices.

Complementary vegetables are to supplement the texture or color of the food or provide additional vegetables for a healthy meal.

Mung bean sprouts are among my most recommended must-have item. They look like noodles and can easily blend in. Meanwhile, they help separate noodles from sticking to each other and add a hint of crunchy texture. Peas are optional, but they contribute to the additional texture too.

Green leafy vegetables such as kale or bok choy are wonderful choices.

Something that contributes to the color appealing is also important. Carrot slices serve just like that.

authentic chow mein

I do not have a vegetable assortment, can I still make a tasty Chow Mein?

No problem. It works as long as you have either green onions, onion, leek or cilantro.

Do you like Chinese Style Stir Fry Noodles? Make sure you check out how to make one quick, easy and creative at home here.

Do you like healthy tasty “Better Than Takeouts”? Make sure you check out below:

Best Chow Mein {Easy Yummy Healthy}

Easy Tasty Vegan Chow Mein Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Chow Mein or Chinese fried noodles is a traditional quick easy everyday home cooking in China, which has also become one the most popular Chinese restaurant take-out food. 

Ingredients

  • 250 g dried organic spaghetti, half pack, see notes
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil or other types of cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil, plus 1/2 tbsp garnishing
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce or dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp cane sugar
  • 1 stalk green onion, chopped
  • 600 g vegetable assortment, about 1.3 lb, choose from the below list: mung bean sprouts, recommended/soybean sprouts, blanched, recommended/green leafy such as bok choy, kale, leek, cut into thin long strips, recommended/ mushroom, celery, carrots, red onion, thin sliced, optional/ frozen peas and/or corns, blanched, optional

Instructions

Prep Ingredients:

  • Dried organic spaghetti works very well for Chow Mein. They usually come in a package of 500 g. I usually cook 1 pack at a time and use it for the week.
  • To cook the dried spaghetti, fill a large stockpot (8-Q minimum) with water, cover the lid and bring it to a boil, about 18 minutes. Once it reaches a boil, carefully add the dried spaghetti, separate them and turn the heat to simmer, cover the lid and cook for 10 minutes. Then immediately remove the spaghetti from the pot. This will give the past a firm bite texture which ensures a tasty noodle dish. Read here for how to cook dry pasta for tasty noodles in more detail.
  • Blanch the soybean sprouts, frozen peas, and/or corn if you use them. You can use the same water boiling the noodle to blanch the vegetables. Bring the pot to a boil again and then add the vegetables. Cook for 3 minutes or till reaches a boil again and then remove using a strainer or skimmer, and then set aside.
  • Cut onions into slices, peel the carrots into thin layers using a peeler and cut bok choy, kale, or leek into long thin strips.

Stir-Fry Noodles with Vegetables:

  • Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the wok for 1 minute.
  • Add avocado oil and sesame oil to the wok, along with the green onion and the cooked noodles. Quickly mix, toss and fold using a pair of bamboo spatulas for about 2-3 minutes, or till the noodles are nicely coated with the oil.
  • Add the vegetable assortment to the wok, along with the 2 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce and 1/4 tsp cane sugar. Continue to mix, toss and fold, for about 2-3 minutes.
  • All done! Drizzle 1/2 tbsp sesame in a circular motion over Chow Mein and serve hot. Enjoy an easy, tasty and healthy Chow Mein.

Notes

  • A pack of 500 g of organic spaghetti produces about 1190 g (~2.6 lb) of cooked noodles. Half pack makes about 1.3 lb cooked noodles. If you use other types of noodles, just use about 1.3 lb of cooked noodles.
  • Homemade egg noodles or homemade noodles are an excellent choice for Chow Mein.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 425Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1108mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 12gSugar: 14gProtein: 16g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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