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Chinese Beef Chow Mein (牛肉炒面)

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This easy beef chow mein recipe features tender juicy beef that melts in your mouth, along with saucy noodles and crisp veggies. It is an easy and delicious way to get a filling meal that everyone will love. 

I know why you’re here. You want to cut out the middle-man and get authentic Chinese food on your table fast without having to wait for delivery or go pick it up. Fortunately, my Beef Chow Mein recipe is super simple and quick. You’ll be eating this version before your order from your neighborhood Chinese restaurant arrives, so why not make it yourself?

One thing that I’ve noticed is that people shy away from cooking Chinese food because they don’t have a wok. I’m here to tell you that you don’t *need* a wok to make this recipe. You can use your skillet. Just make sure your pan gets hot enough and you use plenty of aromatics with my sauce recipes and I promise you, it will taste like that Chinese restaurant you love, but it will be faster and cheaper!

Beef chow mein ingredients

What noodles to use

Choosing the right noodle is important to making the best tasting beef chow mein. 

The noodles are thin and have a yellow color. The main ingredients are wheat flour and eggs.

If you live close to an Asian market, the best chow mein noodles are the fresh type. They are usually labeled as chow mein noodles or chow mein pan fried noodles. You can find them in either the refrigerated or freezer section.

If the fresh type is not available, you can use dried chow mein noodles as well. Many regular grocery stores carry them these days (usually in the “ethnic” aisle). And you can even find them on Amazon.

Other great alternatives include Japanese noodles for yakisoba, spaghetti, udon noodles or Korean wheat noodles. These will all yield a different texture for the final product but will be tasty nonetheless.

Which cut of beef to use 

Flank steak generally works the best for this recipe, and it’s more budget-friendly too. But if you only have tougher meat options on hand, don’t stress it. You can tenderize any tough beef by adding about 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda onto the beef and then adding the marinade. As long as you don’t go crazy with the baking soda, you won’t notice the taste and it will help tenderize your beef. Don’t forget to slice it against the grain to get that melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture that makes this dish a success!

Mise en place

While it may seem hectic at first to make Chinese food at home, if you prepare your ingredients and set them nearby your stove so they’re ready when you are, you’ll make your workflow go so much more smoothly. 

Marinated beef 

Aromatics (ginger, garlic, green onion)

Veggies (pepper, carrot, and bean sprout)

Chow mein noodles

Vegetables and their alternatives

I used bean sprouts, carrots and peppers in my beef chow mein, but you can also use other vegetables depending on what you have on hand. For example:


Napa cabbage

Baby bok choy

Chinese broccoli 

Snow peas

Bamboo shoots 

How to make beef chow mein

Boil the noodles according to the instructions

Sear the beef and transfer to a plate

Gently cook the aromatics to infuse oil

Cook the carrot

Cook the pepper and green onion

Add the cooked noodles and toss together 

Add back the cooked beef and bean sprouts, pour in the sauce

Mix everything together

Prepare the noodles properly

If you are using fresh noodles such as fresh chow mein noodles or yakisoba, you only need to gently rinse the noodles in warm water to loosen them up before stir frying. 

If using semi-fresh noodles such as Hong Kong Pan Fried noodles, you only need to boil them for a minute or so, to gently cook them.

For dried noodles or spaghetti, cook until al-dente, or 1 to 2 minutes less than the package instructions. So the noodles will have a nice texture after the stir frying.

Key to authentic tasting beef chow mein

Use a large pan

You don’t need a wok to make this dish. But you do want to use a pan that’s large enough to hold all the ingredients. Check out my post Wok vs Skillet to see the recommended stir fry station setups and pans. 

Do not overcrowd the pan 

Using too many ingredients in the pan will drop the pan temperature, resulting in the ingredients being steamed instead of seared. The ingredients in the recipe are the maximum volume that I can fit in a 12.5” skillet. You can slightly reduce the veggies depending on what you have on hand, but do not add more ingredients than listed.

Keep the pan hot 

Make sure you heat up your pan very hot and keep using high (or medium-high) heat to maintain the pan temperature. So the ingredients will be properly seared.

Use a generous amount of oil

If you eat chow mein in a Chinese restaurant, you will notice that the dish is usually on the greasy side. I usually use less oil when it comes to home cooking, for health’s sake. But I also make sure to use enough oil so there’s a thin layer of oil coating the noodles. That’s how you get the dish to have more aroma.

Use plenty of fresh aromatics

You’ll also want to make sure you use plenty of fresh garlic, ginger, and green onion because it gives your beef chow mein that authentic taste. Aromatics are essential in getting that Chinese flavor perfected. Plus, they’re good for you too!

How to serve beef chow mein

You can either serve the beef chow mein as a one-plate meal by itself, or you can serve it as one of the main dishes for a multi-course dinner.

To pair beef chow mein with other dishes, make sure to select a variety of ingredients that have different texture and sauces to balance it. For example, serve it with:

It really doesn’t take very long to make Beef Chow Mein. Having everything you need measured and within arm’s reach makes it really easy to achieve authentic Chinese food perfection in your own kitchen. Once you make it the first time, every time you make it will go faster and smoother!

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Chinese Beef Chow Mein (牛肉炒面)

This easy beef chow mein recipe features tender juicy beef that melts in your mouth, along with saucy noodles and crisp veggies. It is an easy and delicious way to get a filling meal that everyone will love.

Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: MainCuisine: ChineseKeyword: takeout

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutesCook Time: 10 minutes minutesTotal Time: 25 minutes minutes

Servings: 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients10 oz (280 g) fresh chow mein noodles (or 8 oz / 225 g fresh Hong Kong pan fry noodles, or 6 oz / 170 g dried chow mein noodles)Marinade8 oz (225 g) flank steak , cut into 1/4” (5-mm) slices1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine1 teaspoon cornstarch1/4 teaspoon saltStir Fry4 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)1 tablespoon ginger , minced2 cloves garlic , minced1 small carrot , julienned1 bell pepper (and / or red pepper, I used a mix of both) , cut into 1/4” (5-mm) wide strips 2 green onions , cut to 2” (5 cm) long pieces1 heaping cup bean sprouts
InstructionsBoil noodles according to package instructions until al dente. Rinse with tap water, drain, and set aside.Combine all the “Marinade” ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Mix well and let marinate for 10 minutes.Whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Chop aromatics and vegetables.Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Spread the beef in the pan. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds without touching, until the bottom browns. Flip to cook the other side for 30 to 45 seconds, stirring occasionally, until the beef is lightly charred but the inside is slightly pink. Transfer to a plate.Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the ginger and garlic. Stir a few times to release the fragrance.Add the carrot. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until starting to soften.Add the bell pepper and green onion. Stir and cook for 1 minute.Add the noodles and toss a few times with a pair of tongs. Add back the cooked beef and bean sprouts into the pan. Pour the sauce over the ingredients. Toss to mix everything together well. The noodles are done when the sauce is absorbed, 1 minute or so. Transfer everything to serving plates and serve hot as main.

NutritionServing: 1serving, Calories: 385kcal, Carbohydrates: 34.3g, Protein: 35.9g, Fat: 10.9g, Saturated Fat: 4.2g, Cholesterol: 79mg, Sodium: 922mg, Potassium: 597mg, Fiber: 3.1g, Sugar: 9.9g, Calcium: 46mg, Iron: 3mg

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