Chinese Takeaway Chow Mein

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The Chinese Takeaway Chow Mein

I love chow mein. And I love that it only takes about 15 minutes to make it and all you need is a wok. For me, it also brings back fond memories of home. In Hong Kong, we have noodles for lunch and dinner so often it’s like an equivalent of pasta to Italians.

I have to say though, the takeaway chow mein is a little bit different from what we eat back home, so I’ve written this recipe based on the takeaway here. Trust me, it’s so easy.

Prepare the Ingredients

Fresh egg noodles are what you need for chow mein as they are ideal for sopping up the soy sauce. You don’t even need to go to an Asian shop for this, just go to your neighbourhood supermarkets like Waitrose, Morrisons and M&S, or Sainsbury’s or Tesco. They all sell it.

An authentic Chinese chow mein will most likely have shredded pork in it, but it’s usually made with chicken or duck here in the UK Chinese takeaways. They’re all delicious. I love duck chow mein.

The Perfect Chow Mein Sauce

As you can guess, the sauce is the essence of a good chow mein. The good news is that there’s no secret ingredient in it – all you need is dark and light soy sauce, and a pinch of sugar to bring out the flavour. You can use just light soy sauce, but it’s the dark soy sauce that gives the noodles a deep, rich, dark brown colour. Again, you can find dark soy sauce in most supermarkets but my go-to brand is Hong Kong-based Lee Kum Kee. It’s got an authentic richness and colour which I think is missing in most supermarket soy sauces in the UK.

After trying so many times, I’ve finally worked out the ratio of soy sauce to sugar for the perfect chow mein sauce is 5 to 1. This will make your chow mein taste like it’s from your favourite Chinese takeaway down the road. You can add more sugar to the sauce, but if you make it too sweet, it’ll taste more like the Japanese teriyaki sauce, which is also made with just soy sauce and sugar but with a roughly 1:1 ratio.

Use a good wok!

Like many other Chinese stir-fries, the secret to a good chow mein is to use a good wok. Carbon steel is what the Chinese chefs will go for as the material is light and can retain high heat, allowing you to STIR and FRY.

Next time I’ll share the recipe for another of the nation’s favourite Chinese takeaway: sweet & sour chicken. But for now, let’s have a look at the chow mein recipe 🙂


Serves 2 

250g fresh egg noodles
175g stir fry duck breast (or any meat of choice)
1 small onion, sliced
1cm piece ginger, sliced
1 pak choi (about 120g), chopped
2+1 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp light soy sauce 
1 tbsp sugar 


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the 2tbsp dark soy sauce, 3 tbsp light soy sauce and sugar.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok over high heat, add the duck breast and 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce. Stir fry for a few minutes until the duck breast is lightly browned and cooked through. Set aside.
  3. In the same wok over medium heat, stir in the onions and ginger and cook until the onions are soft and caramelised, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the noodles, the soy sauce and sugar mixture, and the cooked duck breast. Toss everything together until well combined and heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and, if needed, add more sauce in the ratio of soy sauce 5:1 sugar.
  5. Serve hot.


You can pair this sauce with pretty much any meat and any noodles. This time I’m using chicken mince and udon noodles. I have another post that talks about the udon noodles I use, and a soy ginger sauce that is also great with noodles!

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