Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chi You Chao Mian (Soy Sauce Chow Mein)

Chi You Chao Mian (Soy Sauce Chow Mein)

One of the lesser known items enjoyed at Chinese dim sum restaurants is a chewy, savory noodle dish known in English as Soy Sauce Chow Mein.  This is not usually seen on the ordinary steam carts circling the dim sum restaurant; instead, you'll find it on a cold cart featuring other specials, such as salt-and-pepper squid, roast duck, steamed greens with oyster sauce, etc.  Its unique texture and flavor requires a thin steamed wheat noodle, often labeled  won ton noodle,  beansprouts, green and white onion, and soy sauce, all stir fried to perfection.  The Hong Kong style "won ton" noodles can be purchased fresh at most Asian groceries; however, it is essential to use the steamed version, which isn't always labeled as such, but you can also buy the raw noodle, and steam it yourself in a bamboo steamer: spread the noodles out in a steamer tray 1" to 2" thick, and steam for approx 7  to 10 minutes.   As soon as they are cool enough to handle, separate and fluff the noodles and set aside.

8 oz  thin steamed Chow Mein Noodles,  aka: "won ton noodles" (i.e. Wan Hua Foods brand) 
3/4 med yellow onion
2 or 3 green onion
7 oz beansprouts
3 Tab Soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 rounded tsp sugar
Dash of vinegar
Dash of dry white sherry, or XiaoShing wine...
Sesame oil

Submerge steamed noodles in hot (150 degree) water for 2 minutes.  Drain well.

Cut yellow onion into tapered slivers, about 1/2 " wide.  Cut green onion into 1-1/2" sections; slice the white portions in half and break apart.  Mix soy with sugar and dash of vinegar and set aside.

Heat 3 Tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok, until just beginning to smoke, and add yellow and white portion if green onion.  Gently flatten the onions to the wok with the shovel, allowing to brown for 20 seconds or so; add beansprouts, green onion pieces, and a dash of wine, then stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, till the sprouts just begin to soften.  Add steamed noodles and soy sauce/sugar mixture; it's a good idea to chop into the mass of noodles with the spatula 2 or 3 times to shorten them, then toss until sauce is thoroughly incorporated and the noodles are hot.  Serve on oval platter and garnish with sesame oil.


  1. I was looking around for a good recipe for soy sauce chow mein and after sifting through hundreds of links, I finally found your blog. Finally, someone who knows what they're talking about when it comes to traditional Chinese cooking. Where did you learn your recipes from? I'm a food blogger too and I really admire what you've done. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks. Where did I learn the recipes? An interest and passion for thirty years, scouring every cook book and online source for each recipe. Combined with many months of travel in China and Asia. You can learn a lot by deconstructing foods on the fly in China.

  3. WOW Awesome ! I grew up in Calcutta, believe it or not, eating this very dish in various Chinese rests and in Chinatown. I now live in Singapore & I have to date never found this dish anywhere in any of the food courts or hawker centres. What I am curious about is this a Sichuan dish or is it more Cantonese? I ask because I think most of the Chinese immigrants in Calcutta were those from Canton or Southern China ( Fujian , I think). I wonder why I can't find this here in Singapore !!!

  4. Dear Spacifix; I apologize for not answering sooner. I've been traveling in Vietnam and Mexico, and neglecting the blog. The "soy sauce chow mein" is definitely Cantonese. I really don't know why some dishes don't travel in the Chinese emigration. It may be that you are not looking for this in the context of dim sum. I'm sure Singapore has dim sum restaurants by the dozens. I've rarely seen it in hawker stalls or general Chinese restaurants.

    Your comment on Calcutta brought back memories. We were in India, especially Mumbai, in 2009, and were shocked to see Chinese dishes on menus in many of the working class Indian cafes, and restaurants, right alongside the aloo gobi and mutter paneer!

  5. I didn't know where to email you about this, so I'm posting here. Betty, whose husband worked at a now closed Chinese restaurant told me sorta how to make Boneless Almond Chicken. Another Chinese restaurant doesn't even have it on their menu. Anyway, here goes. She said to soak the boneless chicken breast in milk, then coat with cracker meal, salt, sugar and white pepper, then fry. For the gravy part use almond juice, msg,sugar, salt, onion powder, cornstarch and water. Thats it. What could she mean by almond juice?? I've seen other recipes that used almond extract or toasted ground almonds in the sauce. I just remember how almondy the gravy was, light brown in color. This may be similar to Wor su gai or War su gai. I've also seen the chicken dipped in a batter, then fried. But theirs was breaded then fried. If you can help out with the gravy part, Thanks so much!!!! I've also seen it called Almond Boneless Chicken or ABC. It is suppose to be well known in Detroit, MI area, but many of their recipes used the batter. Thanks for helping me out.


  6. Good to hear from you. I can't be of too much help, since my interest is in traditional Chinese dishes, and Almond Boneless Chicken seems to be a relatively recent stateside invention. The tip offs are the use of milk, cracker meal and onion powder, none of which are Chinese ingredients. Of course, it could be considered traditional in it's own right, as a Chinese-American proffering much like Chop Suey, since it's been made similarly for decades.

    Here's a link that you might find useful; the blogger knows her stuff and has a recipe for Almond Chicken:

    Also, if you haven't seen this already, Zester has a fantastic article on ABC, Almond Boneless Chicken:

    As for "Almond Juice," think almond milk, as per coconut milk, and you'll have it.

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