Chow mein is a Chinese dish of stir-fried noodles. The term “chow mein” literally means “fried noodles.” As the name implies, this dish involves stir frying noodles and other ingredients and sauces in very hot oil. There are different variations of this dish. This recipe shows you how to prepare an easy vegetarian chow mein. This dish is surprisingly very flavorful and uses a wide range of vegetables. This is one dish which you can personalize to suit your taste. For example, I have left out beans sprouts from this recipe because I am not a fan of beans sprouts. This makes a fast mid week dinner as it can be prepared under 30 minutes.
(1) About 250 Grams Dried Egg Noodles
(2) 1 Tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil + 1 Teaspoon
(3) Vegetables (See Note 1)
(4) Scallions/Spring Onions
(5) 2 Large Garlic Cloves
(6) 1-1/2 Tablespoons Mild Oil (See Note 2)
(7) A Pinch of Sugar
(8) 2 Teaspoons light Soy Sauce
(9) 2 Teaspoons Dark Soy Sauce (See Note 3)
(10) 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine or Sherry or White Wine Vinegar or White Vinegar.
(11) Salt and Pepper to taste
(1) I have used 1 carrot, a handful of sugar snap peas and a red bell pepper in this recipe. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you like. Choose veggies of different colors to make your dish attractive. Some mushrooms will be great here.
(2) You want to use a mild oil in this recipe. Avoid oils like olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil. Groundnut, canola and vegetable oils are great to use here.
(3) You might be wondering why I used both light and dark soy sauce. In most Chinese cuisine, both of them are used. The light soy sauce is quite salty and adds a lot of flavor to the dish. The dark soy sauce on the other hand is not as salty and adds depth of color to the dish. If you have only one or the other, don’t sweat it and use what you have. Adjust recipe to the suit type you are using so you do not over salt or under season your dish.
(4) Typically, woks are used for stir fries which is essentially what this dish is. They heat evenly and have high sides which is what is needed for a dish like this. If you do not have a wok, use a sturdy frying pan with high sides.
(1) Heat water in a large pot and blanch noodles for a couple of minutes or according to the instructions on the pack. Be careful not to over cook noodles as they will still be stir fried.
TIP: To make draining easier, I placed a colander in the pot and blanched noodles in the colander. The chop sticks come in very handy as they help you disentangle the noodles as they soften.
(2) Drain noodles and place them in a bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil over the noodles and turn to coat noodles with the oil. The oil adds flavor and prevents the noodles from sticking together.
(3) While the water for the noodles is coming to a boil, this is a good time to prep your veggies. Chop your veggies however you want to. You can chop them diagonally or into circles. I have julienned mine here. You can learn how to julienne vegetables here. The most important thing is that you chop them uniformly so they all cook at the same time. Also smash and chop the garlic cloves.
(4) Heat the wok until it is very hot. The success of this dish starts and ends here. If your wok is not hot enough, the vegetables and noodles will not fry well. You want to feel the heat emanating from the wok if you place your hands close to it.
(5) Put the oil in the wok and allow it to heat up.
(6) From here on, everything happens quickly. Add the garlic to the hot oil and stir fry until it starts turning brown. This takes seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will leave a bitter taste in your dish.
(7) Add the vegetables to the wok and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Start with stronger veggies and graduate to the lighter ones.
(8) Add the blanched mein, scallions, soy sauces, rice wine, salt and pepper to the wok and stir fry for about a minute. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
(9) Drizzle the remaining sesame seed oil over the noodles, stir and serve.
For more stir-fry options, check out my Chicken Spaghettini Stir-Fry