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How to Make Chow Mein Noodles
Chow mein - the classic Chinese comfort dish. Here is a standard way of preparing noodles for chow mein. 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:
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- 1/2 pound fresh egg noodles
- 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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Preparing the Noodles
Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. If no directions are available, cook the noodles in 8 cups of boiling water until they are cooked “al dente” - 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.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
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Oil the Frying Pan
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.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Cook the Noodles
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.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Remove the Noodles From the Pan
Turn the noodle cake out on a plate. I find 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.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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Oil the Pan and Add the Noodles
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.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Brown the Other Side of the Noodles
Cook until they are golden brown on the bottom (usually about 4 – 5 minutes). Again, press down lightly on the noodles during cooking.
Note: I find 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).Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Slide the noodles out of the pan onto a plate.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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How to Serve Chow Mein Noodles
The key to making chow mein is that the noodles are fried separately from the topping (the meat, vegetables, and gravy). The topping is then served over the noodles.
Feel free to create your own meat and vegetable toppings to serve over the noodles - chow mein is a great way to use up leftovers. Or, try this basic recipe for Chicken, Pork or Shrimp Chow Mein. Just use the instructions here instead of the instructions for preparing dry wonton noodles found in the recipe.