*This recipe was published in September 2020 and updated in May 2021. I veganized it by switching to egg-free chow mein noodles and I simplified the cooking process.
I cook this simple vegan chow mein noodles recipe when I want a quick lunch or dinner. Made with crispy veggies and fried tofu in a simple stir-fry sauce, they’re so nourishing and satisfying.
Since fried noodles are so popular in Asia, they come in many varieties. And the diversity is not given only by the used ingredients, but also by the way they are cooked, which varies from one region to another. So, I’ll show you here one of the many options you have to cook stir-fry noodles ????.
The beginnings of my “affair” with fried noodles
I didn’t manage to cook these noodles perfectly from the beginning. Sometimes I’ve even ended up with some vegetable noodle soup on my plate… Quite far from what I had in mind. But hey, I kept trying and I figured out some things over time.
I noticed that in the Chinese restaurants there isn’t any salt or pepper on the table. Just small bottles with soy sauce and wine vinegar in general. Furthermore, they add sugar to almost every dish!
In many restaurants customers can see how the chefs cook the food. So, I noticed the cooking flame was really high. Therefore, high temperature is a key player here.
To make a long story short, when I gave up the salt in favor of soy sauce, added a sweetener and turned the heat to the max…boom! My noodles were just perfect!
Ingredients for vegan chow mein noodles recipe
To make this dish vegan, I obviously used egg-free chow mein noodles. Usually they’re easier to find in Asian shops. Use any other this egg-free noodles you can find. Even ramen noodles work for this recipe.
What vegetables should I choose?
I used broccoli and carrot, but you can replace them with other vegetables of your choice like baby corn, bok choy, green beans, mushrooms, there are no rules. You can consider it a “fridge clean out” activity ????. Just try to keep it simple and don’t add more than two vegetables to this dish.
- tofu – use firm tofu and fry it to add more crispiness to your dish. Tofu is a very good source of iron and calcium and it has no cholesterol; so, it’s a good meat replacement;
- garlic & ginger – this is such a nice blend of flavors which is used in so many Asian recipes and it’s definitely a must in any fried noodle recipe;
- sesame oil – another essential ingredient in Asian cooking, especially for stir fried noodles; although oil made of toasted sesame seeds tastes better, I’d rather avoid it when it comes to deep frying; overcooking makes sesame oil taste quite bitter;
- soy sauce – use light or all purpose soy sauce; it will make your dish salty enough (at least for my taste), but, if you must, add a bit of salt at the end, after the soy sauce releases its saltiness; you can replace the soy sauce with tamari sauce or coconut amino;
- sweetener – as I said, sugar is present in almost all Asian dishes; but I prefer replacing it whenever possible with a healthier substitute, like agave syrup, in this case.
Also, if you want to make this dish spicy, you can add either some chili flakes or a hot sauce (like sriracha).
Tips for making chow mein noodles
- Use a wok – when I cook fried noodles, I prefer using a wok, but a non-stick pan works as well. Just use a big one to not let the noodles fly over while tossing them.
- High heat is a must – the vegetables should be sizzling instantly when you put them in the wok. So, make sure your wok (or frying pan) is well heated before adding the ingredients.
- Prepare the ingredients in advance – since you’ll use high heat and the cooking time is very short, it’s better to have all ingredients ready to use when you start cooking.
- Keep it simple – don’t crowd your wok with too many ingredients! The high temperature won’t spread evenly and you’ll end up with a plate full of mushy and under cooked ingredients at the same time.
How to make vegan chow mein noodles
As mentioned, you need to prepare all ingredients in advance. So, separate broccoli in small florets; the smaller the pieces are, the faster they cook. And since you’re cooking them together with julienne cut carrots, you should break the broccoli florets into smaller pieces.
Next, press the tofu block to squeeze out as much water as possible, cut it in any shape you want and fry it on all sides in sesame oil. You can skip this step if you wish and add raw tofu later together with the rest of the ingredients.
Then cook noodles according to package instructions. When they’re almost done, transfer to a sieve and place under cold water to interrupt the cooking process. Save some cooking water for later.
While the noodles are cooking, prepare the sauce. Place all ingredients in a small bowl, combine well and set aside.
When all ingredients are ready to use, heat the sesame oil in a wok and garlic and ginger when it’s hot. Cook until fragrant and stir continuously to prevent burning. Then pour in the sauce with some water saved from boiling noodles and cook for a few seconds.
Add broccoli and carrots and cook over high heat for about 30 seconds.
Stir in the cooked noodles. Pour more sesame oil on the sides of the wok and allow the noodles to cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir from time to time. Add cooked tofu and cook for another 30 seconds. Add more sesame oil and / or soy sauce if needed.
To get really crispy noodles, you need to use about 3-4 tbsp of oil. Chow mein noodles are typically oily. The good part is that you can decide how much oily they should be ????.
When they’re done, transfer into serving bowls, top with sesame seeds and chopped spring onion and enjoy.
Can I store fried noodles?
I recommend serving the noodles right after they’re cooked. Once they get cold, they tend to become mushy and flavorless.
Other Asian recipes you might like
If you like this vegan chow mein noodles recipe, please rate it or leave a comment below; I’d love to know your feedback. And, if you prepare it, you can post a photo and tag Choose Tasty either on Instagram, or on Facebook. ????
Vegan Chow Mein Noodles
- 2+4 tbsp raw sesame seeds oil or peanut oil
- 150 g firm tofu cut into 1 cm cubes
- 150 g chow mein noodles or other egg-free thin noodles
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 1 small ginger piece 1-2 cm
- 100 g carrots cut julienne
- 130 g broccoli florets broken into smaller pieces
- 50 ml water saved from boiling noodles
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 50 ml soy sauce light or all purpose
- 1 tsp agave syrup or another sweetener
- 1 tsp red chili flakes ore sriracha sauce optional
- spring onions only the greens
- toasted sesame seeds
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside;
- To fry the tofu pieces, place a wok over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of sesame oil; when the oil is hot, add tofu; fry until all pieces turn golden and crispy (5-6 minutes); then set aside on a plate;
- Cook noodles according to package instructions; when they're almost done (al-dente), drain the water, rinse them with cold water (to interrupt the cooking process) and set aside; don’t forget to save for later 50 ml of the boiling water;
- Put 2 tbsp of sesame oil in the wok and fry the garlic and ginger for about 1 minute over medium heat until they turn golden and the favors blend together; stir continuously to prevent burning;
- Pour in the sauce with saved water from the noodles and cook for a few seconds;
- Add carrots and broccoli and fry for 30 seconds over high heat; stir continuously;
- Add in the noodles, give it a good stir and fry for 2-3 minutes; stir from time to time; add the remained sesame oil around the perimeter of the wok; stir from time to time;
- Stir in the fried tofu pieces while the noodles are cooking; add more oil if necessary;
- Turn off the heat; serve the noodles on plates or bowls and garnish with spring onion and sesame seeds.
- Prepare the ingredients in advance and keep them at handy so that you can move fast.
- Soy sauce – use light soy sauce for this recipe or “all purpose” soy sauce.
- Serve chow mein noodles immediately; the longer you keep the noodles, the mushier and flavorless they become.