Veggie chow mein is often my dish of choice when I get Chinese food, especially when eating on the go. You know the sort of thing I mean – eating while walking home from the pub, or while perched on a friend’s sofa with no prospect of getting a table or even a plate (oh, how I don’t miss being a student). Chow mein is pretty much a full meal in one, and it’s much easier to eat with one hand than if you had to buy everything separately – it’s hard to mix together one tub of noodles and one tub of vegetables with one hand.
Anyway, enough of my ridiculous justification for this recipe. I’m not even a student any more, and I still consider being able to eat something with one hand as a selling point. The point is: chow mein is one of my favourite Chinese dishes, and it’s so easy to recreate at home. Just vegetables, noodles, and a simple dressing. Of course, to round out the meal even more, you could serve it with tofu or some sort of fake ‘chicken’, but even if you leave it protein-free, it makes a great meal. Having one protein-free meal every once in a while isn’t going to kill you.
You can mix this recipe up with whatever vegetables you like – carrots, broccoli, cabbage (especially pak choi) and spring onions would all work well. I went for mushrooms, mange tout and bean sprouts, which I always think are a pretty perfect combination for dishes like this. Somehow a Chinese dish automatically feels more authentic to me when it includes bean sprouts (let’s ignore the fact that Wikipedia tells me chow mein is most popular in the US and the UK. Let’s just pretend this is totally authentic, k?).
- 1tbsp oil
- ½ onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ mild red chilli (deseeded), sliced
- 4 medium mushrooms, sliced
- 70g mange tout, halved
- 100g bean sprouts
- 100g noodles (egg noodles are best, but use a vegan alternative if required)
- 2tbsp agave nectar
- 3tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1tbsp rice vinegar
- ½ tbsp brown sugar
- Heat the oil in a large wok, and add the onion, garlic and chilli. Cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the remaining vegetables. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring regularly.
- While the vegetables are stir frying, boil the noodles if required, and drain.
- Add the noodles to the vegetables, and then add all the ingredients for the dressing (agave nectar to brown sugar). I just add each ingredient straight to the pan, but you could mix the dressing up separately first if you prefer, and then add it all together.
- Cook for a couple of minutes more, and then serve.