Literally translating to “fried noodles,” this recipe for chow mein is a quick and comforting Chinese noodle dish that is easy to make at home.
What is Chow Mein?
It’s easy to confuse the two classic Chinese noodle dishes: Lo Mein and Chow Mein. In our last recipe we looked a bit at the biggest difference between Lo Mein and Chow Mein, which is simply the way the noodles are cooked.
Chow mein is a bit of a richer dish, since, in chow mein, noodles are sauteed along with vegetables and protein to create that oh-so-satisfying, slippery and crispy combo.
Ingredients In Chow Mein
Chow mein also differs from lo mein in what you will traditionally find added to the noodles.
Rather than lots of big chunks of vegetables and meat, chow mein is a dish that focuses more heavily on the noodles themselves. The vegetables added to the dish are typically julienned or chopped fairly fine. It is common to find vegetables like beans sprouts, cabbage, onions, celery, or carrots in your chow mein. And, when cut properly, these vegetables mimic the shape and texture of the noodles, acting as more of a complement rather than a contrasting element.
Stir Frying Noodles
Since you have more to saute (noodles and vegetables) with chow mein, you also need to use more oil when cooking it. The extra oil also adds to the texture of the noodles and the dish as a whole.
This also lets you adapt your chow mein to your own preference. If you like your chow mein noodles VERY crispy, add extra oil. If you like your chow mein a little on the softer side, you can use less oil.
Chow Mein: A Quick and Easy Dish
The dish comes together in under twenty minutes. (Even less if you happen to have leftover noodles occupying a corner of your fridge.)
With a timetable like that, why would you even need to pick up the phone to call for takeout?
Give it a shot and let us know what you think!
- 6 oz chow mein noodles or spaghetti noodles (dry)
- 3 Tbsp sesame oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ lb chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 3 oz cabbage, shredded (can substitute celery or bok choy)
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp white sugar
- Cook the noodles according to the packaged instructions. Drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, chop and prepare your other ingredients. (Cooking the chow mein goes very quickly, so it is best to have everything cut and ready before you start.)
- Heat the oil in the bottom of your wok or large skillet, over high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 10 seconds. Add the chicken pieces and sauté until cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Add the scallion, cabbage, carrot, and drained noodles. Sauté 2-3 minutes until the cabbage has wilted and everything is beginning to crisp.
- Add the soy sauce and sugar. Mix to combine. Taste and add additional soy sauce if desired. Serve immediately.