This is a classic Chinese chow mein recipe with earthy shiitake mushrooms, tender pork slices and crunchy mung bean sprouts. Passed down by my mom, it’s a recipe that I absolutely loved eating as a kid and now my own daughters love it too! If you enjoy chow mein noodles, this is a healthier take that you can enjoy making at home.
As a kid, chow mein was one of my favourite noodle dishes to get at the Chinese restaurants. Those noodles are typically deep fried and then drenched with sauce so that there were pockets of crispy and soft noodles – so irresistible! It’s a great dish to satisfy different preferences of my family members. For me, I always loved the noodles drenched in the sauce – yummmmm. Seeing how much I loved it, my mom came up with her home version using the same noodles. These noodles are stir fried instead so it’s a healthier option!
There are many different variations of chow mein dishes out there. This one definitely highlights the earthy flavours of shiitake mushrooms, sweetness of snow peas and crunchy freshness of mung bean sprouts. Although there is pork in this noodle dish, as a lot of Chinese cuisine does, I feel this dish is more vegetable forward. Hooray for veggies!
Steamed Chow Mein Noodles
Steamed chow mein noodles are first quickly blanched and rinsed. They are then fried lightly with soy sauce and sesame oil for extra flavour and aroma. I definitely like snacking on these noodles just by themselves!
The earthy shiitake mushrooms are crucial to this dish and really bring out the rest of the flavours. Their meaty texture really compliment the thin chow mein noodles. Without them these noodles wouldn’t be the same! Shiitake mushrooms come dried and you can find them in most Asian grocery stores. I personally like going to the Chinese dried herbal markets for these mushrooms. I find their mushrooms have richer flavours and more umami. Don’t bother buying the pricier, bigger sized ones or the ones in fancy boxes. I usually get the cheaper ones since I usually slice mine or put them in soup – it’s really the flavour we’re after!
I personally really like snow peas with chow mein. They add some sweetness and color. Feel free to leave them out if you don’t have them on hand.
Mung Bean Sprouts
Bean sprout as super key because they add the level of crunch factor to an otherwise soft texture dish. Sprouts are also super good for you! Don’t cook them too long or else they lose their crunchiness and become soggy!
Pork tenderloin is quite lean and a healthier option. I think the leaner cut highlights the taste of the mushrooms more which to me is the star of the dish!
Soak the Shiitake Mushrooms
Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in water and place it in the fridge the night before. If you forget, you can also soak them in hot water and cover them 3-4 hours before cooking. If you do this, make sure you choose the mushrooms that aren’t too thick in case they are not soaked through. You will know if they aren’t adequately soaked when you slice them since they will still have white dried parts. Don’t try to cook them because they will end up chewy, just soak them again and use them for something else.
Time Saving Cooking Tips
In order to save time on the day of cooking, I usually remove the strings and trim the snow peas the night before just to cut down on the prep time a bit.
On the day of, I recommend doing some of the things in tandem to save some time. While boiling the water for the noodles, slice the tenderloin and marinate it. The tenderloin will need about 15 minutes to marinate so this should be the first thing completed in the preparation. This will give the seasonings time to do its work while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
Also make sure all the ingredients are ready to go before you heat the wok because this dish comes together FAST!
This dish is best cooked in a wok, but still taste great with a stainless steel pan (my mom actually made it this way for me). If using a pan, I wouldn’t use anything smaller than 10 inches. I would also half all the ingredients and cook the dish in 2 rounds. The sprouts really fill up the pan and will overflow if you try to do it all at once.
For serving, add some toasted sesame seeds on top and a bit of hot sauce on the side!
Leave me comment below if you tried this dish! I’d love to hear from you!
Chinese Chow Mein with Shiitake Mushrooms
- carbon steel wok
For Chow Mein Noodles
- 15 oz chow mein steamed noodles each package is approx 1 lb or 425 g
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
For Pork Tenderloin Marinade
- 1/2 lb whole pork tenderloin
- 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp corn starch
- 1 tsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
- 1 tsp rice wine (or shaoxing wine)
For Rest of the Dish
- 6-8 large dried shiitake mushrooms (approx. 2 inches or 5 cm diameter) soaked overnight until soft
- 1 tsp ginger minced
- 5-6 cloves garlic minced
- 6 oz snow peas (optional) ends trimmed and strings removed
- 4 cups mung bean sprouts rinsed and strained
- 3 sprigs green onion sliced lengthwise and cut in 2 inch pieces
- 1 tbsp rice wine (or shaoxing wine)
- 1 cup unsalted chicken broth or water used to soak the shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 3 tsp corn starch with 3 tbsp water to make a slurry
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil) for stir frying
- salt to taste
- sesame seeds for garnishing (optional)
Prepare the Pork Tenderloin
- Slice the pork tenderloin into 2"x1" slices about 1/4" thick. I usually cut the tenderloin in half length wise before slicing against the grain
- Add sliced pork, light soy, dark soy, baking soda, brown sugar, salt, corn starch, oil, rice wine into a bowl, mix and marinate for 15 minutes
Cook the Chow Mein Noodles
- Bring 8 cups (approx. 2 litres) of water with 2 tbsp of salt to a rapid boil
- Remove the steamed noodles from their package and place in the boiling water for 1 min to blanche
- Strain and run noodles under cold tap water to remove any flour residue. Discard the boiled water
- Heat your wok under medium/high heat. Once simmering add 1 tbsp of oil
- Add half your noodles to the hot wok with 1 tsp of soy sauce and 1/2 tsp of sesame oil
- Fry the noodles for about a minute until you notice parts of it crisping up
- Repeat above frying steps for second half of the noodles
Finish the Rest of the Dish
- Remove the soaked shiitake mushrooms and squeeze out any excess moisture. Reserve the water if using. Slice into 1/4" thick slices. Set aside
- Heat your wok under medium/high heat. Once simmering add 2 tbsp of oil
- Add marinated pork, sliced shiitake mushrooms, minced garlic and ginger. Fry for about 1-2 mins when pork has almost fully changed color
- The wok will be dry. Deglaze it with the rice wine
- Add the chicken broth (or water used to soak the shiitake mushrooms)
- When the mixture starts to simmer, add the snow peas. Lower the heat to low/medium and cover. Simmer for 6 minutes
- Add bean sprouts and green onion. If there isn't much liquid left in the wok, add a little more chicken stock. Add the soy sauce
- Cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes (or a bit longer if you don't want your bean sprouts too crunchy)
- Turn heat to low. Add 2/3 of corn starch slurry and mix until you see the liquid start to thicken. Add more slurry if you would like the sauce thicker.
- Add oyster sauce and sesame oil. Add salt to taste
- Add in noodles and mix until thoroughly heated.
- Serve immediately
- Always start preparing the pork first to double up the prep time with marinating time. I usually get a head start with slicing the pork while I wait for the water to boil for the noodles. The time to prep the other ingredients after is usually ample time to let the marinade do its work of flavouring and tenderizing the pork
- Stri frying the noodles after blanching is optional but I think it adds more flavour and texture. If you’re short on time, you can skip that part and leave the noodles aside after blanching
- In Chinese restaurants, chow mein is usually deep fried till crispy after blanching. This is a healthier alternative 🙂
- This dish is best cooked in a wok. If you don’t have a wok, use a large stainless steel pan. I would separate the toppings into two equal parts and cook them in two rounds since the ingredients might overflow the pan while cooking.
- If you stir fried your noodles in advance, you can also pour the finished toppings over the noodles and serve it like that. Personally, I like to mix the toppings thoroughly in my noodles so every bite has the delicious sauce coated. It’s all up to personal preference