easy shrimp chow mein

I have so many fond memories associated with chow mein, which translates to stir-fried noodles. As a kid, I’d often dread the dinners we’d go out to at Chinese restaurants with family friends or relatives, mostly because my brother and I would just sit there bored amidst conversations we didn’t have interest in nor understand (these were the days before social media and phones)! Despite being bored, there was always one thing I could look forward to… The adults would order dishes that they’d like, and when it came to ordering for us, they’d say, “just order them a fried rice or chow mein, and they’ll be fine!”

With large groups, we’d sit at the round tables with the revolving turntables, and I remember trying my best to be polite — I’d wait patiently for others at the table to finish grabbing their portions of dishes before I pulled the chow mein towards me, grabbing several heaps before relinquishing control of the turntable to the next person.

Of course, my taste for other Chinese dishes expanded as I got older, but chow mein was one of those staples we’d always get at restaurants and for takeout from Chinese butcher shops. It also wasn’t something my parents would cook at home often. I don’t think my parents care for chow mein too much, or at all — if we weren’t there, they’d never order it. Chow mein’s definitely a dish that appealed to our Chinese American taste buds more than theirs. That’s why it means so much that they’d always order it.

About the recipe

Of course without a wok or restaurant-level gas stovetop at home, we won’t be able to achieve the wok hei they’d typically get from a restaurant’s chow mein. If you’d like to read about how to achieve wok hei at home, one of my favorite food writers, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, writes about it in this article for The NY Times. Please note that my recipe below is a simple one for your average homecook that’s optimized for ease, accessibility, and time.

My favorite thing about this chow mein recipe I’m sharing here is its versatility. If you don’t like shrimp, you can substitute chicken, beef, or pork. You can even make a purely vegetable chow mein. The sauce for the chow mein is super simple, just soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and some chicken broth or water.


  • What noodles should I use?

    • You can use any egg or wheat noodles that are good for stir-fries. This includes chow mein noodles, yakisoba, or pancit, which can usually be found at any Asian grocery store. Usually the back of the package will tell you how best to prep and use the noodles.

    • If you go for chow mein noodles, you might find that there are both thin and thicker types. If available, go for ones that are a little thicker (at least the size of cooked spaghetti). These have a bit more bite and texture and will hold up better with the other ingredients in the dish.

    • If you can’t find fresh refrigerated noodles, you can look for dried egg noodles. They’ll just take a few more minutes to prep before stir-frying.

  • Can I substitute ingredients?

    • Yes! For the protein, if you don’t like shrimp, you can substitute with slices of beef, pork, or chicken. If you’re using any of the proteins that are not shrimp, I recommend slicing them into strips and marinating them in a bit of soy sauce, cornstarch or baking soda, and a splash of water or cooking wine for 10-15 mins. The cornstarch or baking soda keeps the cuts tender — this is a Chinese cooking technique they often use in restaurants and is called “velveting.” If you’re keeping the shrimp as stated in the recipe, there’s no need to marinate.

    • For the vegetables, I chose to use onions, bok choy, carrots, and mung bean sprouts. I personally like the crunch of bok choy, but cabbage is very common in chow mein. Sometimes I’ll add shiitake mushrooms if I have them on hand. Feel free to customize based on your preferences or with what you have in your kitchen!

Please note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.


chow mein, shrimp, noodles, stir-fry
lunch, dinner, entree, noodles
Chinese, Chinese American
Yield: 2
Author: Susanna

easy shrimp chow mein

easy shrimp chow mein

( 0 reviews )

Make this easy chow mein in under 30 minutes!
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 10 MinTotal time: 25 Min


Sauce for noodles


Prepare the ingredients
  1. Prepare the shrimp by deveining and removing shells if present. If using other proteins such as beef, chicken, or pork, I recommend slicing into strips and marinating with ½ tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon baking soda or cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine or water.
  2. Slice your carrots into thin matchsticks (julienne), and slice your onion and bok choy or cabbage. Mince the garlic. Wash your mung bean sprouts and set aside.
  3. Prepare the noodle sauce by mixing together 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, and 3 tablespoon of chicken broth or water. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Usually for fresh noodles, you only have to run them under hot running water or boil for about 1 min -- make sure to not overcook them in this stage or else you'll end up with gummy noodles! For dried noodles, you should boil until al dente. After the noodles are boiled and drained, rinse in cold water to prevent overcooking.
Stir-frying the noodles
  1. In a pan or a wok, heat up 1 tablespoon of neutral oil. When it's hot, add your shrimp and season with a dash of salt. Cook for about 1-2 min on each side, or until shrimp turns color and gets just a little caramelized. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. If needed, add a bit more oil to the pan or wok. Add your sliced veggies: bok choy or cabbage, onions, and carrots. Stir fry for 1-2 min or until they soften a bit and get some color.
  3. Deglaze the pan with a splash of Chinese cooking wine, add minced garlic, and stir-fry for another minute or until you can't smell the alcohol from the wine.
  4. Add your prepared noodles and noodle sauce. Incorporate the noodles well with the sauce and veggies, and stir fry for another minute.
  5. Add the shrimp back in, as well as the mung bean sprouts. Stir-fry for a final minute, season with a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, and then it's done! Enjoy immediately.

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