Chow Mein 炒面 is a Chinese stir-fried noodle dish that is typically served in two ways: steamed or crispy style. The latter version is also known as Hong Kong style in Western cultures, and it is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. In order to get the perfect crispness of these thin noodles, you must prepare the noodles separately, which can be quite time consuming depending on the size of your frying pan (helps if you have a griddle). After you pan fry the noodles, you should store them in the oven to keep warm as you cook the meat, vegetables, and sauce to pour over the noodles before serving.
My dad makes incredible Chow Mein, but when it comes to asking my parents for recipes, they always give me a blank look and reply, “I don’t know. I just cook it.” When it comes to asking about measurements, my mom just says, “I don’t know. Until it tastes right.”
Thus, when my parents came to visit in NYC, I made a special request for my dad to make his chow mein so I could record each step to finally document the process. The entire process took approximately 2 hours, but that is primarily because almost everything needs to be cooked individually. I’m sure you can combine more steps, but I didn’t want to stray too far from my dad’s original recipe. But trust me, in the end, your patience and efforts will be rewarded with a savory, authentic Hong Kong Style Chow Mein!
Chicken Chow Mein (Hong Kong Style)
Yields: 6-8 servings
- 1 lb chicken, cut into thin strips (or use beef or shrimp)
- 1 lb (16oz) package of Hong Kong Style Pan Fried Noodles
- 1 lb Gau Choy (rapeseed leaves) OR Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli) OR Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage), washed and trimmed
- 1 small onion, cut into thick slices
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 6 coin slices ginger
- 3 stalks green onion, cut into 2″ lengths
- LOTS of cooking oil…
Chicken Marinade Ingredients:
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black ground pepper
- 2 T cornstarch
- 2 tsp white sugar
- 4 T oyster sauce
- 1 C water
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil
Marinate the Chicken
Place the sliced chicken into a medium bowl. Add the marinade ingredients (oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, salt, pepper) and mix thoroughly. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. While the chicken is marinating, you can start on the noodles, which is the most time intensive part of this recipe.
Pan Frying the Noodles
Cook the chow mein noodles according to the package instructions. The fresh, soft noodles you find in the refrigerated section are already precooked, and all you need to do is loosen the noodles with water. Once softened, drain the noodles.
Now it is time to pan fry the noodles. Hong Kong Style Chow Mein is known for its delicious crispy noodles, and it gets that way by pan-frying, which means a lot of oil… try not to think about it too much.
Heat 1 T cooking oil in a large skillet. Place a thin layer of noodles in the pan just to cover the bottom, but do not overcrowd. Let sit for a couple minutes until the bottom of the noodles are golden, and then flip the noodles over to pan fry the other side.
Once the noodles have reached desired crispness, transfer the noodles to a large glass baking dish. Heat 1 T oil in the skillet, and repeat until you have pan-fried all the noodles. Place the baking dish in the oven at 150°F just to keep the noodles warm while you finish frying the rest of them.
You want each and every noodle to be pan-fried to perfect crispness. This means you will have to do several rounds of frying, depending on the size of your skillet. For a whole pound (16oz) of noodles, I had to pan fry 6 rounds of noodles. I used two 10″ skillets simultaneously on my stove top to halve the time. While you are waiting to flip the noodles, you can make the gravy!
Stir Frying the Vegetables
In a large wok, heat 1 T of cooking oil. Add 2 cloves of whole garlic and 3 coins of ginger to the wok. When the garlic is browned, add your choice of Chinese vegetables (Gau Choy, Gai Lan, or Boy Choy) and stir fry for a couple minutes.
Remove from the wok and place your cooked vegetables over the pan fried noodles, and store back in the oven to keep warm.
Cooking the Chicken
In a large wok, heat 2 T of cooking oil. Brown the remaining 3 cloves of garlic and 4 coins of ginger, and then cook the onion slices until translucent. Add the chicken and stir fry until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside.
Making the Gravy
In a small bowl, combine all the gravy ingredients (cornstarch, sugar, oyster sauce, water, sesame oil) and stir.
Pour the gravy mixture into the wok and bring the gravy to a boil to thicken.
Remove from stove when the gravy is thickened to your desired level. Stir in the cooked chicken and onions.
Add the green onion and mix well.
Pour the chicken, onions, and gravy mixture over the vegetables and pan fried noodles.
Serve immediately (while noodles are still crispy!) and enjoy!