Stirfried Noodles (Chow mein/Chao mian)

This is the ultimate “what’s in the fridge” dish: to the basic recipe, you can add whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand or whatever catches your eye at the market! I’m giving a simple, vegan version here, but you can also add some marinated, stirfried beef, pork, chicken, or seafood. Fresh Asian noodles are available in the refrigerated section of many conventional groceries now – you can play around with the thickness that you prefer, although the thinner strands tend to work better for this recipe.


  • 3/4 lb fresh noodles or 1/2 lb dried Chinese noodles (or even spaghetti)
  • 6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, caps sliced 1/4″ thick, stems reserved for making broth
  • 1/4 lb napa or regular cabbage, cut into 1/4″ shreds
  • 2-3 T oil
  • 2 T light or dark soy sauce
  • salt, to taste


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, cut or break the noodles into 5-6″ sections and cook until just done – if you overcook at this point, you’ll have trouble stirfrying. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water – this stops the cooking process and washes away starch that would glue the noodles together, making it difficult to stirfry.
  2. Heat 2 T oil in the wok over high heat until it shimmers. Stirfry the cabbage for 1 m, then add the mushrooms and stirfry 1 m more. Remove to a plate, leaving the oil behind.
  3. If necessary, add 1 T oil, then add the noodles, stirfrying quickly to separate and heat through. Add the vegetables back, stir to combine and heat through.
  4. Adjust seasoning and serve.


  • Marinate 1/2 c shredded beef/pork/chicken or diced shrimp/sliced squid/bay or sea scallops in 1 tsp Shaoxing cooking wine, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp cornstarch for 15 m. Stirfry separately after vegetables, then add vegetables and noodles to combine thoroughly and heat through.
  • You can add just about any vegetable you like – be sure to cut it small or precook using the blanch and shock method. Broccoli and/or cauliflower florets, shredded or thinly sliced carrots, snow peas or celery sliced on the diagonal,… the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and your budget.

nutrition data:

For my calculations I’ve used light soy sauce, spaghetti noodles, regular cabbage, and no added salt. If you want to reduce the sodium content, you can try reducing the amount of soy sauce even further. This recipe serves 4 as part of a larger meal or 2 as a complete meal. Figures are give for 1/4 of the recipe.

  • Total calories 298, calories from fat 70
  • Total fat 8 g, saturated fat 1 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 512 mg
  • Total carbs 48 g, dietary fiber 3 g, sugars 3 g
  • Protein 9 g

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