How to Fry Chow Mein Noodles

  • 01 of 09

    How to Make Chow Mein Noodles

    Chow mein
    Derek E. Rothchild/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Chow mein is a westernized form of Chinese food best described as stir-fried noodles with a variety of toppings. Chow mein is a simple dish to prepare. Parboiled noodles are browned on one side, then turned over and cooked on the other side. This makes the noodles browned and crunchy on the outside and tender inside. Noodles cooked this way are also called "both sides browned" and "twice browned" noodles.

    Here's what you'll need to cook the chow mein noodles:

    • 1/2 pound fresh egg noodles (or dried)
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil, or as needed
    • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
    • 1 12-inch skillet with a non-stick coating
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  • 02 of 09

    Choosing and Preparing the Noodles

    Boiling Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    While it is possible to make Chow Mein using Italian spaghetti noodles or German egg noodles, you'll almost certainly want to use real Chinese egg noodles. There are several varieties available in most grocery stores, ranging from very thin to thick. Classic Chow Mein noodles are very thin and are usually labeled as Chow Mein noodles.  Do check the label to be sure that the noodles you select are really egg noodles (rather than rice noodles with a little yellow flavoring!).

    Cook the noodles in 8 cups of boiling water according to the package instructions, until they are tender but with a bit of resistance in the middle. Use a wooden spoon or cooking chopsticks to separate the noodles while they are cooking.

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  • 03 of 09

    Drain and Toss With Sesame Oil

    Chow Mein Noodles - Adding Sesame Oil to Boiled Egg Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Remove the noodles with a slotted spoon and place in a colander. Rinse the noodles twice in cold water and drain thoroughly each time. Remove to a bowl and toss the noodles in 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil.

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  • 04 of 09

    Oil the Frying Pan

    Chow Mein Noodles - Adding Oil to the Skillet
    Rhonda Parkinson

    In a 12-inch non-stick skillet with a non-stick coating, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat. Tilt the pan and move it around so that the oil coats the bottom.

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  • 05 of 09

    Cook the Noodles

    Chow Mein Noodles - Cooking the Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    When the oil is hot, use a spatula to push the noodles into the pan.Cook the noodles until they golden brown on the bottom (about 5 minutes). Press down on the noodles with a spatula during cooking - this helps form them into a nest shape and makes sure they cook evenly.

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  • 06 of 09

    Remove the Noodles From the Pan

    Chow Mein Noodles - Flipping the Noodles, step 1
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Turn the noodle cake out on a plate. The easiest way is to flip the noodles frittata-style: place a plate over the noodles and then invert the pan so that the noodles fall onto the plate, browned side on top.

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  • 07 of 09

    Oil the Pan and Add the Noodles

    Chow Mein Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Add a small amount of oil, 1/2 tablespoon or as much as is needed to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Slide the noodles back into the pan.

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  • 08 of 09

    Brown the Other Side of the Noodles

    Chow Mein Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Cook until they are golden brown on the bottom (usually about 4 – 5 minutes). Again, press down lightly on the noodles during cooking. Once the noodles are browned on both sides, slide the noodles out of the pan onto a plate.

    Note: The exact cooking time varies depending on the type and even the brand of noodle that you are using. If, after browning both sides. the noodles aren’t quite as crisp as you like, you can fry either side for a bit longer (you shouldn't need to add extra oil to the pan).

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  • 09 of 09

    How to Serve Chow Mein Noodles

    Cantonese Chow Mein
    Rhonda Parkinson

    The key to making a great Chow Mein is to fry the noodles separately from the topping (the meat, vegetables, and gravy). The topping is then served over the noodles.

    Chow Mein ingredients can include almost any combination of meat, fish, vegetables, and sauce. In fact, it's a great way to use up leftovers. If you're not ready to plunge in on your own just yet, though, make your noodles according to this recipe and then make the topping for Chicken, Pork or Shrimp Chow Mein.