Selecting the Right Noodles
We talk A LOT about this throughout the video, but we'll be using fresh, unsteamed Hong Kong Style Pan Fried noodles.
These are Chinese egg noodles, and there are many, many different types, varieties, and brands that offer them.
For simplicity’s sake, here are 3 of the most common Chinese egg noodles: Wonton Mein, Lo Mein, and Chow Mein.
We’ll want to use Chow Mein, also known as Hong Kong Style Pan Fried Noodles. Chow Mein is the ideal type of noodle for the traditional flavor and texture profile we’re going for. They’re thinner than Lo Mein and have less egg content than Wonton Mein.
My dad talks about this in our video during Meal Time, but you can also buy the dried variety and boil it according to the instructions, cool it with water, and then proceed with our instructions as written.
On Soy Sauce
Soy sauce dates back to around 2200 years ago during the Han Dynasty in China. Much like congee and rice, soy sauce was originally developed to stretch salt, which used to be a very expensive commodity. It has since become one of the most common and important ingredients in all of Asian cuisine.
In Cantonese, soy sauce is called “sih yàuh 豉油”, and there are a ton of different names and variations for soy sauce all across Asia.
Traditionally, Chinese soy sauce is produced by fermenting soybeans and grains, brewing with some sort of salt, purifying and pasteurizing, and then it’s either stored for further aging or bottled immediately for distribution.
It’s primarily during this final step where dark soy sauce differs from light soy sauce.
In Cantonese, dark soy sauce is known as “lóuh chāu 老抽”, which roughly translates to “old extract”, a reference to a longer aging process than its younger brother, light soy sauce, or “sāang chāu 生抽”. Dark soy sauce is also commonly mixed with mushrooms, caramel coloring, and molasses.
If you don’t have dark soy sauce, you can skip it and substitute it with light soy sauce which is generally easier to buy. You can also check below for links to buy dark soy sauce online.
Finding Asian Ingredients
Some of these ingredients are hard to find in a typical grocery store.
If you don't live near an Asian market, most or all of what my dad uses in this recipe can be found on Amazon:
I've also included some other Chinese kitchen essentials, used in many of my dad's other recipes.
These links are affiliate links, which means that if you use our links to purchase these ingredients, Amazon pays my family a small amount for the sale - at no extra cost to you. If you use these links, we really appreciate the support!
Alternatives to Oyster Sauce
If you're vegetarian or need to stay away from gluten, we have three alternatives for you!
Vegetarian Oyster Sauce
Since oyster sauce is made out of oyster extract, here are some alternatives that have a similar taste without using the actual oyster:
Gluten Free Oyster Sauce
Wok Mei has a gluten-free oyster sauce, but it still contains oyster extract, so it's not vegetarian friendly.
Vegetarian + Gluten Free Oyster Sauce
Unfortunately, we don't know of a vendor that sells an oyster sauce that caters to both dietary restrictions, so you'll need to DIY the sauce.
Mix equal parts gluten free soy sauce and gluten free hoisin sauce. This isn't exactly the same as oyster sauce, but it's pretty close.
Other Supplies + Tools
You'll need a good wok, which provides a ton of versatility for the classic Chinese cooking methods: steaming, stir frying, deep frying, and etc.
If you're using fresh, unsteamed chow mein noodles, it'll help to buy a steamer rack with holes. Otherwise, you can use a regular steamer rack and steam the noodles on a plate for an extra 2-3 minutes than my dad prescribes in this recipe.