Cantonese Chow Mein (豉油王炒面)

Learn how to make supreme soy sauce chow mein, a classic Cantonese dish!

Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
30 min
Yields
4 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

This classic Cantonese chow mein is known as "鼓油王炒面", which translates roughly to supreme soy sauce pan fried noodles. (Also, chow mein = pan fried noodles.)

This is traditionally more of a breakfast or lunch kind of dish, and especially popular for dim sum.

Why is it called Supreme Soy Sauce Chow Mein?

Supreme soy sauce chow mein is always served without meat.

You can certainly cook this with beef or anything else you'd like, but then the dish wouldn't be called "supreme soy sauce chow mein", it'd be called "beef chow mein."

It's named based on the most dominant flavor. Even if it's cooked exactly the same way, adding beef to the dish would supersede the flavor of the soy sauce.

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
4
  • 12 oz Hong Kong style pan fried noodles (

    buy the unsteamed variety

    )
  • 0.50 onions
  • 5 pieces green onion
  • 4 oz bean sprouts
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce (

    Tamari works as a substitute - Amazon

    )
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce (

    Amazon

    )
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (

    Amazon

    )
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (

    to taste. Buy on Amazon

    )
  • 3 tbsp corn oil

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.

Here's a quick run-down of the types of HK-style noodles you can buy:

  • fresh, unsteamed
  • fresh, steamed
  • dried

In the video, we demonstrate how to cook with fresh, unsteamed noodles (which is my dad's preference). This takes a little bit of extra work but is worth it.

We'll need to cook the noodles by steaming them, which is one of the main keys to nailing the perfect texture.

Here's what you do:

  • Place your steamer rack in a wok on high heat. Pour enough water so that the top of the rack isn't submerged, and start boiling water.
  • Take the rack out, separate and lay out noodles (12 oz) on top of the rack.
  • Once boiling, set the steamer rack + noodles back in the wok and cover for 10 minutes. Leave the stove on high heat.
  • If you're using a steamer rack without holes (i.e. steaming on a plate where the steam can't easily access the bottom, steam for 2-3 extra minutes.)
  • Once the 10 minutes is up, quickly dump the noodles in the water for 15-30 seconds.
  • Drain the noodles through a colander, and spend about 1-2 minutes fluffing and separating the noodles with a chopstick.
  • Let it cool for 3-5 minutes.

If you're using fresh, steamed noodles, you can skip the steaming step. Instead dunk the noodles in boiling water for about 2 minutes before draining.

If you're using dried noodles, it's somewhat similar to cooking instant ramen. Cook according to the package's instructions, erring on the more al-dente side, and rinse with cold water afterwards to stop the cooking.

We'll wash and chop our vegetables:

  • green onion (5 pieces) - cut into about 1.5 inch pieces. Separate the roots and the shoots, as we'll be cooking the roots first.
  • onion (0.50) - cut in half, and then julienne (see video for example)
  • bean sprouts (4 oz) - you can leave these as is. Some traditional restaurants will remove the beans and the tips, which is A LOT of work.. but feel free.

Mix dark soy sauce (1 tbsp), light soy sauce (1 tbsp), oyster sauce (1 tbsp), sugar (2 tsp), water (1 tbsp) in a bowl until the sugar dissolves.

We'll be adding the sesame oil later.

We'll start by heating our wok to around 350-400°F (176-204°C). Depending on your stove, this should take around 2-3 minutes.

AFTER the wok is hot, we'll add corn oil (0.99 tbsp) and heat that to 350-400°F. As a visual cue, it should be "shimmering" - rippling, but not smoking. If it's started smoking, the wok is too hot.

Then, we'll start cooking our green onion roots and onions for right around 1 minute, and set them on a plate for later.

Heat the wok again and add more corn oil (0.99 tbsp). Once the oil is shimmering, add the noodles.

We want to be really gentle with the noodles. DO NOT flip them yet, and only occasionally move the noodles around. Let the bottom get nice and crispy for about 3 minutes.

Then, we'll flip. My dad does a graceful wok-flip (which I don't have the confidence to pull off), but the rest of us can just use a spatula and flip that way :)

Once flipped, add more corn oil (0.99 tbsp) along the perimeter of the noodles to help develop a nice crisp. Let the noodles cook on this side for another 3 minutes, occasionally prodding and moving the noodles.

Letting the noodles adequately cook and crisp on each side is one of the main keys to perfecting this dish.

Overview

  • Bean sprouts: 30-45 seconds
  • Green onions + onions: 1-2 minutes
  • Sauce: 1 minute
  • Sesame oil: 1-2 minutes

Add the bean sprouts:

  • Make room for the bean sprouts by pushing the noodles aside in the wok.
  • Set the bean sprouts in the wok, and then cover them with the noodles. This helps trap some of the heat inside to help them cook more evenly and quickly.
  • Let the bean sprouts cook underneath the noodles for 30-45 seconds.

Add the green onions (everything, the cooked roots + raw shoots) and onions, and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Continue separating the noodles with chopsticks and a spatula.

Pour in the sauce mix, and mix everything around for 1 minute. We'll want to let the sauce evaporate as much as we can.

Add sesame oil (1 tsp), and mix and separate the noodles for another 1-2 minutes, and then we can start plating.

At this point, you should taste the noodles and see if the flavor and color is to your liking. My dad added another splash of dark soy sauce (0.5 tbsp) in the video to make the noodles a little darker.

Transfer the noodles onto a plate, and call your loved ones over.

Time to eat!

Summary

Cantonese Chow Mein (豉油王炒面)
Learn how to make supreme soy sauce chow mein, a classic Cantonese dish!
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • 12 oz Hong Kong style pan fried noodles (

    buy the unsteamed variety

    )
  • 0.50 onions
  • 5 pieces green onion
  • 4 oz bean sprouts
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce (

    Tamari works as a substitute - Amazon

    )
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce (

    Amazon

    )
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (

    Amazon

    )
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (

    to taste. Buy on Amazon

    )
  • 3 tbsp corn oil
Step 1 - Steam noodles, drain, cool↑ Jump to details

Here's a quick run-down of the types of HK-style noodles you can buy:

  • fresh, unsteamed
  • fresh, steamed
  • dried

In the video, we demonstrate how to cook with fresh, unsteamed noodles (which is my dad's preference). This takes a little bit of extra work but is worth it.

Here's what you do:

  • Place your steamer rack in a wok on high heat. Pour enough water so that the top of the rack isn't submerged, and start boiling water.
  • Take the rack out, separate and lay out noodles (12 oz) on top of the rack.
  • Once boiling, set the steamer rack + noodles back in the wok and cover for 10 minutes. Leave the stove on high heat.
  • If you're using a steamer rack without holes (i.e. steaming on a plate where the steam can't easily access the bottom, steam for 2-3 extra minutes.)
  • Once the 10 minutes is up, quickly dump the noodles in the water for 15-30 seconds.
  • Drain noodles through a colander, and spend about 1-2 minutes fluffing and separating the noodles with a chopstick.
  • Let it cool for 3-5 minutes.

If you're using fresh, steamed noodles, you can skip the steaming step. Instead dunk the noodles in boiling water for about 2 minutes before draining.

If you're using dried noodles, it's somewhat similar to cooking instant ramen. Cook according to the package's instructions, erring on the more al-dente side, and rinse with cold water afterwards to stop the cooking.

Step 2 - Chop vegetables↑ Jump to details

We'll wash and chop our vegetables:

  • green onion (5 pieces) - cut into about 1.5 inch pieces. Separate the roots and the shoots, as we'll be cooking the roots first.
  • onion (0.50) - cut in half, and then julienne (see video for example)
  • bean sprouts (4 oz) - you can leave these as is. Some traditional restaurants will remove the beans and the tips, which is A LOT of work.. but feel free.
Step 3 - Create sauce↑ Jump to details

Mix dark soy sauce (1 tbsp), light soy sauce (1 tbsp), oyster sauce (1 tbsp), sugar (2 tsp), water (1 tbsp) in a bowl until the sugar dissolves.

We'll be adding the sesame oil later.

Step 4 - Heat wok, start cooking↑ Jump to details

We'll start by heating our wok to around 350-400°F (176-204°C). Depending on your stove, this should take around 2-3 minutes.

AFTER the wok is hot, we'll add corn oil (0.99 tbsp) and heat that to 350-400°F. As a visual cue, it should be "shimmering" - rippling, but not smoking. If it's started smoking, the wok is too hot.

Then, we'll start cooking our green onion roots and onions for right around 1 minute, and set them on a plate for later.

Heat the wok again and add more corn oil (0.99 tbsp). Once the oil is shimmering, add the noodles.

We want to be really gentle with the noodles. DO NOT flip them yet, and only occasionally move the noodles around. Let the bottom get nice and crispy for about 3 minutes.

Then, we'll flip. My dad does a graceful wok-flip (which I don't have the confidence to pull off), but the rest of us can just use a spatula and flip that way :)

Once flipped, add more corn oil (0.99 tbsp) along the perimeter of the noodles to help develop a nice crisp. Let the noodles cook on this side for another 3 minutes, occasionally prodding and moving the noodles.

Letting the noodles adequately cook and crisp on each side is one of the main keys to perfecting this dish.

Step 5 - Cook bean sprouts, add veggies, flavors↑ Jump to details

Overview

  • Bean sprouts: 30-45 seconds
  • Green onions + onions: 1-2 minutes
  • Sauce: 1 minute
  • Sesame oil: 1-2 minutes

Add the bean sprouts:

  • Make room for the bean sprouts by pushing the noodles aside in the wok.
  • Set the bean sprouts in the wok, and then cover them with the noodles. This helps trap some of the heat inside to help them cook more evenly and quickly.
  • Let the bean sprouts cook underneath the noodles for 30-45 seconds.

Add the green onions (everything, the cooked roots + raw shoots) and onions, and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Continue separating the noodles with chopsticks and a spatula.

Pour in the sauce mix, and mix everything around for 1 minute. We'll want to let the sauce evaporate as much as we can.

Add sesame oil (1 tsp), and mix and separate the noodles for another 1-2 minutes, and then we can start plating.

At this point, you should taste the noodles and see if the flavor and color is to your liking. My dad added another splash of dark soy sauce (0.5 tbsp) in the video to make the noodles a little darker.

Step 6 - Plate & enjoy!↑ Jump to details

Transfer the noodles onto a plate, and call your loved ones over.

Time to eat!

Step 7 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 8 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

Enjoy!

My sister and I have many, many happy memories enjoying this dish growing up.

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories with this dish with your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to eat with us and learn more about the dish, Chinese culture, and my family.

Cheers, and thanks for cooking with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.