Monday, 13 August 2012

Chinese Fried Noodles - Chow Mein

Chow mein literally means 'fried noodles' in Cantonese, and this version is a favourite in our house.  Like fried rice, you don't really need a recipe.  You can just throw in whatever you have in the fridge, but here's a basic version that you can build upon.

450-500g, 1lb fresh egg noodles
sesame oil
100g, 4oz snow peas
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp finely chopped spring onion (scallions)
225g, 8oz chicken breast, cut into shreds (for my kids)
12 uncooked prawns (shrimp) for me
cooking oil - peanut oil or avocado oil
Marinade for Chicken
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
2 tsp sesame oil
pinch salt
pinch white pepper
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt
pinch white pepper

Prepare the Noodles.  Heat or cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.  All noodles are different.  I buy my hokkien noodles from the Asian supermarket and they only need to be soaked in boiling water for 20 seconds.  Other noodles need to be soaked longer, or cooked first.  Once your noodles are ready, drain them and toss a little sesame oil (1-2 teaspoons) through them so they don't stick together.

Prepare the meat.  If you are using chicken breast, slice it into fine shreds (approx 5cm/2in long).  Combine all the marinade ingredients in a glass dish and marinade the chicken for 10 minutes.  If using prawns (shrimp), peel and devein them.  I cut mine in half, but you can leave them whole.  I don't marinate my prawns.

Get all your ingredients ready.  Stir-fry's are quick so you need to have all your preparation done before you start.

Cook the meat.  Heat a wok over high heat.  Add 1 tbsp of stock or cooking oil, and stir fry the chicken shreds for a couple of minutes, then remove and wipe clean.  Reheat the wok and cook the prawns.

Reheat the wok, add a tbsp of stock or cooking oil.  Add the garlic and cook for 10 seconds (don't let it burn), then add the snow peas (mangetout) and cook for a further 60 seconds.  If you are adding other vegetables add them now (after the garlic).

Add the noodles, the sauce ingredients, and spring onions and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

Continue to stir fry for another couple of minutes until the noodles are heated through.  Keep scooping up the noodles and turning them over so they don't stick to the bottom of the wok.  Because I eat the prawns and the kids like the chicken, I just add them on top when I serve up the meal.  This way I get an OMS friendly meal, my kids get what they want, and I don't have to cook two separate meals.

That's it.  They're ready to eat.  You can garnish with spring onion slices or drizzle a few drops of sesame oil on the noodles if you like.  I always put some soy sauce on the table because my kids like an extra splash on the noodles.

Notes & Variations: 
Flavour - this recipe uses garlic but you could also use ginger or chilli, or add oyster sauce
Vegetables - add more vegies such as Chinese mushrooms (especially straw mushrooms), shredded Chinese cabbage, pak choy cut into inch long segments, shredded carrot, bean sprouts, sugar snap peas, baby corn (cut in half vertically or chop into pieces).
Meat - You can add other seafood such as scallops or calamari.  My kids like it with chicken, so I just give them the chicken and I have the seafood.
Noodles - use medium egg noodles or dried yellow shi wheat flour noodles.  Swank's book The Multiple Sclerosis Diet prohibits chow mein noodles.  I'm not sure why?  Perhaps he means chow mein fried noodles which are high in fat, like the Hong Kong style crispy fried noodles?  The Asian noodles I can buy in Australia have minimal ingredients and are low in saturated fat.  Read the ingredients list and nutrition information on the packet when making your selection.  I find many of the fresh noodles in the supermarket come in a compressed block and tend to stick together or break.

Seasonality:  This is an all year round dish.  Use whatever leftover vegetables you have, or whatever is in season.

Interesting Facts:
Noodles symbolise long life because of their length, so don't cut your noodles.
The original recipe that I base mine upon is from Ken Hom's book Simple Chinese Cookery. I've changed mine about, but you will find the original recipe in the book.

My wok is carbon steel.  It is well seasoned so it is naturally non-stick.  There is a Chinese saying - the blacker the wok, the better the cook.


  1. Hello Kylie

    Love the colour of your wok - It means many a loving meal has been enjoyed.

    You are I are parallel with out Chow Mein's - we are doing ours tonight.
    I use rice noodles for a gluten free option and laden mine with vegetables (I get the guilts if we don't have salads or veges everyday :)

    x Loulou

  2. thanks for the recipe kylie! it looks great.
    interesting about noodles and long life.

  3. Oh yum, the stir fry looks fabulous, If I ha everything on hand I would be whipping it up right now. I will have to pin it so I can come back to it. xx

  4. Thanks for the recipe Kylie. Looks great :)
    Cas x

  5. Looks super yummy - now could you just pop on over and cook it for me as I don't have a wok! :(

  6. Hi Kylie, Tried this tonight - super yummy and got the thumbs up from all the family. Thanks...B:) PS - I cooked it in the fry pan.

    1. Oh Brenda,
      I'm so glad your family enjoyed this meal. Brings a smile to my face. Don't worry, a wok is really just a Chinese style frying pan.
      Kylie x


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