Craving Authentic Chow Mein? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Chow mein, a staple dish in Chinese cuisine, has become a popular choice for foodies all over the world. Whether it’s a comfort food on a lazy day or part of a grand feast with friends and family, chow mein never disappoints. But what exactly is chow mein, and what makes it so special? In this blog post, we will uncover everything there is to know about the beloved dish, from its ingredients and recipe to the difference between chow mein and lo mein, as well as what you’ll find in the chow mein at Panda Express.

What is Authentic Chow Mein?

Chow mein is a dish that originated from China and is made up of wheat flour noodles, vegetables, and sometimes meat or seafood. The word “chow mein” is derived from the Chinese characters for “stir-fried noodles.” The dish can be made in various ways, with different ingredients and cooking styles, but the most authentic chow mein is made using thin and crispy pan-fried noodles. Unlike its counterpart, lo mein, chow mein noodles are thinner, crispier, and have a slightly browned texture.

Chicken Chow Mein Ingredients

To make authentic chicken chow mein, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of boneless chicken breast or thigh, sliced
  • 1 pack of chow mein noodles
  • 2 cups of fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 cup of sliced bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

Authentic Chicken Chow Mein Recipe

Here is how you can make chicken chow mein like the takeaway:

  1. Cook the chow mein noodles in boiling water until they are al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Marinate the sliced chicken with soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, and sugar for about 10 minutes.
  3. In a wok or large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Add garlic, ginger, and onion. Stir-fry for about 1-2 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
  4. Add sliced chicken to the wok and stir-fry for about 5-7 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.
  5. Add sliced bell peppers and stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add bean sprouts and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
  7. Add the cooked chow mein noodles to the wok and combine well with the veggies and chicken.
  8. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce to the wok and toss everything together until everything is evenly coated.
  9. Serve hot and garnish with green onions if desired.

What’s the Difference Between Chow Mein and Chinese Noodles?

One common misconception is that chow mein and Chinese noodles are the same things. However, chow mein refers to a specific dish comprising of stir-fried noodles, while Chinese noodles refer to a broader category of noodles that can be used in different dishes such as soups or stir-fries. Chinese noodles can be made from wheat, rice, or mung beans, and they come in various shapes and sizes.

Easy Chow Mein Sauce

A good chow mein sauce is essential to create the perfect flavor for the dish. Here’s an easy recipe for a homemade chow mein sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl, and add to your chow mein at the end of cooking.

What is the Difference Between Chow Mein and Lo Mein?

Another confusion is the difference between chow mein and lo mein. Chow mein features thinner and crispier noodles that are pan-fried until crispy and browned. On the other hand, lo mein features thicker, softer noodles that are boiled and stir-fried along with other ingredients. The texture and thickness of the noodles are the main differences between the two dishes.

Dry Chow Mein Noodles

If you’re looking to make chow mein at home, you may struggle to find the right type of noodle. Dry chow mein noodles are widely available in Asian supermarkets and can be purchased online. Brands such as Nissin and Sapporo produce chow mein noodles that are perfect for making authentic chow mein at home.

What is in the Chow Mein at Panda Express?

Panda Express is a popular fast-food chain known for its American-style Chinese food. The chow mein at Panda Express is made up of wheat flour noodles, cabbage, celery, carrots, and onion. The dish is seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and a few other ingredients.


Chow mein is a classic dish that has stood the test of time, and although various versions have emerged, nothing beats the authentic flavor of pan-fried noodles and fresh veggies. By following the recipe above, you can easily create a delicious chicken chow mein that is perfect for any occasion. Choose the right type of noodle, add flavorful ingredients, and you’ll have a dish that will leave your taste buds craving for more.