From crispy pan-fried noodles to a bowl of wonton noodle soup, fresh Chinese egg noodles are one of the most common noodles you’ll find at Chinese restaurants. Just like Italian pasta or ramen, when cooked properly, they should have a firm bite and springy texture, and the wide variation in thickness and springiness makes Chinese egg noodles some of the most versatile to cook with. All week we’ll be talking about the various types of noodles you might find at a good Chinese market and how to cook them. Check out the whole series here.
For me, a dim sum brunch isn’t complete without a plate of Supreme Soy Sauce Chow Mein. A simple dish of stir-fried thin noodles cooked with bean sprouts and scallions, it’s dry-fried, which means that it’s cooked mostly in oil, with just a thin coating of a soy-based sauce added to it at the end and cooked until it coats the noodles in a concentrated layer of flavor,
Just like the other dim sum classic of crispy pan fried noodles in sauce, this dish is made with thin egg noodles, which are very similar in shape and texture to wonton noodles. Also labeled Hong Kong-Style noodles, they usually come par-boiled, carefully drained, and ready to stir-fry. (You could make this dish with wonton noodles, if you were willing to par-cook and very carefully dry them beforehand).
My version of the dim sum classic uses the same noodles, bean sprouts, and scallions, but I also add finely julienned carrots, Chinese chives, and sliced five-spice tofu.
Preparing the vegetables is the most time-consuming part of the dish, but the even cooking and gorgeous presentation in the end are worth it. I even like to pick the ends off the bean sprouts, though you can leave them on if you’d like.
As with all stir-fries, it’s important to get your oil very hot and to cook your ingredients in the right order and in batches so that your wok has time to reheat between ingredients. (Read up more about stir-frying basics here.) In this case, that means starting with the tofu and frying it until lightly browned, then adding a splash of soy sauce (which gets absorbed quickly), then the chives, cooked just until barely wilted. The vegetables come out and get set aside.
Next, more oil gets heated, then the noodles are added. Because Hong Kong noodles are already par-cooked and dry, they cook very rapidly and stay loose and separated. When stir-frying noodles, set aside the spatula and stick with tongs or chopstick to help you maneuver the noodles without crushing or breaking them.
I like to let them get a little bit crispy before adding a sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar, and white pepper. The sauce is cooked down until it coats the noodles completely, with no liquid left in the bottom of the wok. Make sure to keep the noodles moving constantly once you add the sauce. You don’t want them to clump!
We’re almost done now. Next, the bean sprouts go in and cook until barely tender…
…followed by the carrots and the scallions…
…and finally the tofu and chives.
Serve it all straight away so the vegetables are still bright and crunchy and the noodles are still firm. I like to serve it with chili oil and hot sauce on the side.
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce, divided
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 16 ounces Hong Kong-style (chow mein) noodles (see note above)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable, canola, or peanut oil, divided
- 6 ounces five spiced tofu, julienned
- 1 bunch (3 ounces) Chinese flowering chives, cut into 2-inch lenghts
- 1 small carrot, cut into fine julienne
- 8 ounces bean sprouts, trimmed
- 3 scallions, cut into fine julienne
In a small bowl, combine the 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, the dark soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar, and white pepper. Mix well and set aside. Open the package of noodles and loosen them in a large bowl. Separate any noodle strands that are clumped together.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over high heat until smoking. Add the tofu, spread it out, and cook without moving until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, mix, and add in the chives. Stir-fry until chives are bright green, about 1 minute, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons in now-empty wok over high heat until smoking. Add the noodles. Using tongs or long chopsticks, spread the noodles around, toss them in the oil, and make sure they are not in one big clump. Cook, stirring, until they start to get a little bit crispy, about 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and continue stirring and mixing the noodles around. It is important that you keep the noodles moving once you add the sauce. Once the noodles are combined with the sauce, add the bean sprouts and the carrots. Continue tossing until the bean sprouts begin to turn transparent, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the scallions, tofu, and chives back to the wok. Toss until everything is combined. Serve immediately.
photos: shao z.