This chow mein recipe is quick, flexible and full of flavor

pan chow mein paper

active time:20 minutes

total time:45 minutes


active time:20 minutes

total time:45 minutes



Have you ever seen a recipe title and thought: say what? Then she thought about the source and wanted to try it right away?

That’s how I felt when I came across Pan Chow Mein’s paper in Hetty MacKinnon’s latest book, To Asia, With Love, which made our list of favorite cookbooks for 2021.

McKinnon, who also wrote “Neighborhood” and “Family,” was born to Chinese immigrant parents in Australia, so in her book she describes her recipes as “Asian in origin but modern in spirit” and the flavors as “Asian-ish.”

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Am I thinking of making food this way without her directing? is unlikely. But, under McKinnon’s tutelage, I could see how they would come together. She writes: “Cantonese chow mein is well known for its contrasting texture—fried, crispy strands intertwined with juicy noodles, juicy, crunchy vegetables, all smothered in an umami-rich sauce. While the wok is still the traditional (and perhaps best) cooking pot for chow mein, the skillet with Humble planks are also an easy way to swish with minimal effort.”

I, along with a slew of food writers and home cooks, have sung to praise the skillet for years, because as MacKinnon points out, “simply throw everything on the grate and let the oven do the work for you.” However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this reinterpretation delivered the flavors and textures expected of chow mein. It’s a great solution for people who don’t have a frying pan.

McKinnon begins by roasting sweet peppers, broccoli, and carrots in sesame and olive oil until tender. As it cooks, you boil the noodles until tender, draining and patting them dry until tender. Next, you push the tender veggies to one side of the pan, add the pasta, baby corn, and asparagus to the other side, and return the pan to the oven until the noodles are crispy where they’re touching the pan and a little off the top.

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Quickly whisk in a sauce of toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, vegetable stir-fry sauce, white pepper, and garlic, and when the vegetables and pasta are just right where you want them, remove the pan from the oven, and pour the sauce over it. Throw it together. You can then sprinkle with green onions, coriander leaves, and sesame seeds if you like.

It tastes better fresh from the oven, when the pasta and vegetables retain their great texture, but it was delicious cold from the fridge the next day, too.

This recipe is an excellent way to use up bits and pieces of produce. McKinnon also suggests Asian vegetables as a substitute for broccoli and sugary peas in place of asparagus. She said fresh dried or fluffy egg noodles are best because they are so well crisp, but if crispness isn’t essential to your enjoyment, any noodles will do. She recommends ramen noodles, adding that you can make the dish vegan using wheat noodles as well.

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McKinnon made a promise in her cookbook, noting that “the recipes in this book are accessible, familiar and convenient, but will also challenge you to think differently about the possibilities of cooking modern Asian flavors at home.”

This made me do exactly that.

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Storage notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Where do I buy?Thin dried egg noodles and vegetable stir-fry sauce are available in Asian markets and online. If you can’t find vegan stir-fry sauce, she suggests omitting it.

  • 1 sweet pepper (any color, about 9 ounces), thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, washed and thinly sliced ​​diagonally
  • 1 head of broccoli (about 6 ounces), tough stems removed and cut into florets
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • good salt
  • 9 ounces thin dried egg noodles
  • 1 (8.8 ounce) can shredded baby corn, drained
  • 5 ounces asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 green onion cut into thin slices
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons roasted white sesame
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon vegan quick stir-fry sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or finely grated

Make chow mein: Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees.

Place the bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli on a large baking tray, drizzle with sesame oil and a little olive oil, and season lightly with salt. Flip to coat the vegetables, then grill for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the egg noodles and cook according to package directions until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Strain and cool under running water. Drain well again and pat dry with a clean tea towel.

Make the soy seasoning: In a small bowl, whisk the sesame oil together. soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos; quick frying sauce, if using; White pepper and garlic until blended.

Remove the baking tray from the oven and push the vegetables to one side. Add the pasta, corn, and asparagus to the other side. Drizzle the pasta mixture with olive oil, season lightly with salt, and toss well to coat. Return the baking tray to the oven and continue toasting for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the noodles are crispy on the top and bottom—you’re looking for a combination of crunchy and non-crunchy noodles.

Remove the baking tray from the oven, sprinkle with the whole soy seasoning and stir well to coat. Sprinkle green onions, cilantro, and sesame seeds on top and serve family-style, or divide into shallow bowls.

Calories: 431 Total Fat: 16 g; saturated fat: 2 g; cholesterol: 32 mg; Sodium: 1096 mg; carbohydrates: 59 g; Dietary fiber: 9 g; sugar: 7 g; Protein: 14 grams

This analysis is an estimate based on the ingredients available and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietician or dietician.

Adapted from To Asia, with love Written by Hetty McKinnon (Bristel, 2021).

Tested by Anne Maloney; Email questions to [email protected].

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