Our Vegetable Chow Mein is a vegan version of this classic Chinese take-out dish. This veggie Chow Mein is packed with vegetables and cooked in a delicious homemade Chinese garlic sauce that will make you want to have seconds. This easy noodle dish is perfect for a light meal or a side dish.
What is Chow Mein?
Vegetable Chow Mein is a popular Chinese dish containing stir-fried noodles and a variety of vegetables tossed with an umami-packed sauce. Ever since we first tried Vegetable Chow Mein, it has become one of our go-to comfort foods for a busy weekday.
With its origins in the Cantonese cuisine of southern China, Vegetable Chow Mein has now become a popular dish around the world. The best part of this meal is that you can use your favorite vegetables, add different proteins, or adjust the sauces to your taste.
Our Easy Vegetable Chow Mein is:
- A noodle dish
- Side or main dish
- Easy to prepare
- Quick to make
- Comfort food
How to make the best Vegetable Chow Mein
Ingredients for the Chow Mein
Chow Mein Noodles. For this recipe, we use dried chow mein noodles that don't contain eggs. Many Chow Mein noodles contain eggs, so if you want to keep this recipe vegan, you need to make sure you are using vegan noodles. This type of noodle is used to make other dishes such as Hakka noodles. We have tried cooking veggie Chow Mein with other types of noodles such as ramen noodles or soba noodles (healthier option), and they all work well, so if you cannot find this type of noodles, simply get your favorite noodles.
Fresh vegetables. For our Chow Mein Noodles, we use crunchy veggies that cook well in stir-fries such as carrots, broccoli, cabbage, red bell pepper, and green beans. You can try adding other veggies such as zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, snow peas, or bok choy.
Garlic and ginger. These two ingredients are basic when cooking Chinese dishes. They add flavor, umami, and fragrance. You can add them finely chopped or make a paste by using a garlic and ginger press.
Chinese wine (optional). We always have Shaoxing Wine at home, as we love cooking other Chinese recipes that we add this cooking wine to such as Dan Dan Noodles or Chinese Eggplant. This ingredient is optional and you can substitute it by using rice wine as well.
Ingredients for the Chow Mein Sauce
This Chinese stir-fried noodle dish sauce is really similar to our Chop Suey Sauce. You need a few ingredients that you can use to make other Asian-style dishes. You may need to go to an Asian supermarket to find some of them or get them online.
Light and dark soy sauce. For our Chow Mein sauce, we use a combination of both. We use tamari as light soy sauce and Kecap Manis as dark soy sauce. If you just have light or regular soy sauce, you may need to add a little more sugar than indicated in the recipe card, as dark soy sauce adds sweetness to the Vegetable Chow Mein.
Rice vinegar. We love adding a little bit of rice wine vinegar as it's umami-rich and adds a lovely punch to the sauce.
Vegetable Oyster Sauce. We use this sauce for dishes such as Chop Suey and other Chinese recipes that we make often. You can find Vegan or Vegetarian Oyster Sauce in your local Asian Supermarket where you would find the classic hoisin sauce. It is called mushroom sauce as well. If you want to skip this ingredient, you can add some mushroom powder or simply skip this ingredient.
Sweetener. Adding a little sweetness makes a huge difference in the taste of your garlic sauce. We use brown sugar but you can use maple syrup, agave, palm sugar, monk fruit, pomegranate molasses, or another type of sweetener you like.
Corn starch. This ingredient will make the sauce thicker. You can substitute this potato starch or all-purpose flour.
Water or vegetable stock. You can use water or vegetable stock if you want to add more flavor to the sauce.
For our easy Chow Mein recipe, we use our wok but you can use a large skillet pan as well. Before you start cooking the stir-fry, you will need to prepare a few bits:
- Veggies. Finely slice the cabbage, carrot, and bell pepper. Cut the broccoli into small florets and the green beans into 3 cm long pieces. Finely chop the green chili, ginger, and garlic.
- Noodles. Cook the noodles following the package instructions, drain the water, add some sesame oil to avoid them from sticking, and reserve.
- Homemade Chow Mein Sauce. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and reserve.
Now, you are ready to start making your stir-fried Vegetable Chow Mein.
- Stir-fry the green chili, garlic, and ginger. In a large pan or wok, heat some oil to medium-high heat, and add finely chopped green chili, minced garlic, and grated ginger, or if you have pressed both ingredients, the garlic and ginger paste. Stir-fry them for a few minutes until they become fragrant and slightly softened. If you notice that they are cooking too fast or starting to burn, add a little water to deglaze the pan and keep cooking.
- Add the other vegetables. Next, add sliced red pepper, cabbage, green beans, julienned carrot, and small broccoli florets. Stir-fry all the veggies together until they start to soften but still have a slight crunch.
- Pour the Shaoxing wine. Carefully pour in a bit of the cooking Chinese wine into the stir-fried veggies and let it cook for a minute or two until it evaporates. This really helps elevate the flavors and aroma. Add some cold water if the veggies are still too crunchy, and cook until the water fully evaporates.
- Add the noodles. Add the cooked noodles to the wok.
- Pour the sauce. Pour the homemade stir-fried sauce over the noodles and vegetables into the wok.
- Mix and add sesame seeds. Finally, toss everything together to combine all the flavors. Then sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top of the dish for a nice crunch and added flavor.
- Gluten-free version. Our Vegetable Chow Mein can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free noodles and tamari sauce instead of regular soy sauce and dark soy sauce. If you are using vegan oyster sauce, make sure is labeled as gluten-free.
- Make it low-sodium. Choose low-sodium soy sauce and reduce the amount of added salt in the dish.
- Add more veggies. You can make a colorful and delicious Chow Mein by adding as many veggies as you want. You can use red bell pepper, purple cabbage, and yellow squash, to make your dish visually appealing and packed with nutrients.
- Make it spicy. For those who love a fiery kick, incorporate spicy ingredients like Sriracha, chili oil, or hot peppers into your vegetable chow mein.
- Use different noodles. You can use other types of noodles for your veggie Chow Mein such as Soba noodles, rice noodles, egg noodles (vegetarian), ramen noodles, udon noodles, etc.
- Add protein. If you want to make this vegetable Chow Mein into a complete main dish, add your favorite plant-based protein such as tofu, seitan, tempeh, edamame, or toasted nuts.
Remember, the key is to be creative and have fun with the ingredients. You can easily customize your chow mein to match your taste and dietary preferences by simply swapping out or adding different vegetables, proteins, and sauces.
We like serving this easy recipe as a side dish. We normally don't add protein to it to keep it simple and perfect to pair with our favorite dishes. Some examples would be:
- Gobi Manchurian. This popular side dish goes well with chow mein, providing a nice contrast in texture and flavor.
- Eggplant with Garlic Sauce. Another lovely Chinese dish that pairs beautifully with our Chow Mein noodles.
Before you serve this dish, you can add some extra toppings such as sesame seeds, toasted nuts, chili flakes, chili oil, sriracha, spring onion, green onions, bean sprouts, or a drizzle of sesame oil.
If you want to enjoy this veggie Chow Mein as a main dish, add your favorite protein such as tofu or edamame.
Store and Reheat
To properly store leftovers, use an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat the dish, simply transfer the desired portion to a microwave-safe dish and heat it in the microwave until it's warmed through. Alternatively, warm it in a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated evenly. If the noodles get a bit dry, you can add some extra soy sauce to get the dish nice and fresh again.
Tips and FAQ
Can I make vegetable chow mein in advance?
While vegetable chow mein is best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare some components in advance, such as chopping the vegetables and boiling the noodles. Keep the cooked noodles and stir-fried vegetables in separate containers until ready to serve, and combine them just before serving for the best texture and flavor.
If you are using a wok to cook your Vegetable Chow Mein, you will need to stir constantly the vegetables and the rest of the ingredients as they will cook fast. If they are getting cooked too fast, you can add little water to make sure they are well-cooked while keeping the crunch. It is really important to have all the ingredients ready before you start cooking the stir-fry. Make sure all your veggies are cut, the noodles are cooked and the sauce is made.
Are Chow Mein Noodles vegan?
You can find dried Chow mein noodles that don't contain eggs and are vegan. Fresh chow mein noodles are more likely to have eggs.
What is the difference between Chow Mein and Lo Mein noodles?
The main differences between Lo Mein and Chow Mein recipes are the type of noodles used, the cooking method, the sauce, and the resulting texture. Lo mein noodles tend to be fatter and chewy while Chow Mein noodles are a thinner type of noodle. Lo mein noodles are normally coated in a richer sauce, being this the star of the dish. Chow Mein noodles are drier and served with a wide variety of veggies.
Easy Vegetable Chow Mein
- ¼ cabbage
- 1 carrot large
- ¼ red bell pepper large
- 120 g broccoli (about ¼ large broccoli)
- A handful green beans
- 1 green chili
- 2-inch piece ginger
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 200 g Noodles
- ⅓ cup Shaoxing wine
- 2 tablespoon sesame seeds
Homemade Chow Mein Sauce
- 2 ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup water or vegetable stock
- Wash and dry all the veggies. Finely slice the cabbage, carrot, and bell pepper. Cut the broccoli into small florets and the green beans into 3 cm long pieces.
- Finely chop the green chili, ginger (peeled), and garlic cloves.
- Cook the noodles following the package instructions, drain the water, add some sesame oil to avoid them from sticking, and reserve.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients using a small or medium-sized bowl. Combine by using a whisk until you have an homogeneous sauce.
- Add some vegetable oil to a wok and heat to medium-high heat.
- Stir-fry the green chili, garlic, and ginger for a few minutes until they become fragrant and slightly softened. If you notice that they are cooking too fast or starting to burn, add a little water to deglaze the wok and keep cooking.
- Add sliced red bell pepper, cabbage, green beans,carrot, and broccoli florets. Stir-fry all the veggies together until they start to soften but still have a slight crunch.
- Carefully pour in a bit of the cooking Chinese wine and let it cook for a minute or two until it evaporates. Add some water if the veggies are still too crunchy, and cook until the water fully evaporates.
- Add the cooked noodles.
- Pour the homemade stir-fried sauce over the noodles and vegetables into the wok.
- Add sesame seeds. Finally, toss everything together to combine all the flavors and serve.
If you tried our recipe, please leave a comment or tag us on Instagram @Sixhungryfeet. We are always happy to see your creations!
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