This vegan chow mein recipe is a tasty dish loaded with vegetables and edamame for a boost of plant-based protein! It’s quick to make and perfect for an easy weeknight meal or meal prep.
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Veg Chowmein or Vegetable Chow Mein?
Chow mein is typically spelt with two separate words, but sometimes, the words are combined to read chowmein.
From what I can tell, chow mein is used to describe a Chinese dish whereas chowmein is referring to an Indian meal. Both styles of recipe are quite similar although the Indian-style chowmein recipes often include chili sauce and typically don’t use oyster sauce (which is common in a Chinese preparation).
Both options involve noodles that are stir fried with vegetables which is the whole point of a good veg chowmein!
Is Chow Mein Vegan?
Vegetable chow mein dishes may be vegan but it’s always necessary to double check with whoever is making the recipe.
In a restaurant, you may think the vegetable chow mein is vegan however most chow mein sauces use oyster sauce, which is not vegan. When dining out as a vegan, clarifying that you don’t consume fish or seafood is important.
Some common ingredients used in chow mein recipes that are not vegan are:
- Eggs (in the stir fry or noodles)
- Oyster sauce
- Fish sauce
- Chicken broth
Chow mein could also feature other meats beside chicken which would not be vegan-friendly.
Are Chow Mein Noodles Vegan?
Chow mein noodles are often vegan as they are typically made from wheat, water, salt and oil. However, some chow mein noodles may contain egg.
When buying chow mein noodles, check the ingredients to ensure there isn’t egg. When at a restaurant, clarify you don’t consume egg (sometimes it’s best to ask directly if pasta/ noodles contain egg).
How to Make Vegan Chow Mein
Making vegan chow mein is easy and delicious! Simply prepare a quick chow mein sauce, cook noodles and stir fry vegetables before tossing everything together.
Vegan Chow Mein Sauce
Many chow mein sauce recipes call for non-vegan ingredients, typically oyster sauce and sometimes chicken broth. While there are vegan oyster sauces available, they are hard to come by.
To replace the oyster sauce, I’m using hoisin sauce (which is typically vegan but it’s best to read the label). Along with the hoisin sauce, some mirin helps add flavor to the sauce.
The remaining sauce ingredients are simple and should be easy to find anywhere. To save time, I use a ground ginger powder but you can use 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger if you like!
Vegan Chow Mein Noodles
Vegan chow mein noodles are easy to find where I live. They’re typically with the rice noodles and often in the international food isle at the grocery store.
Always read the labels to ensure the noodles don’t contain egg or any other non-vegan ingredient.
To cook the noodles, simply add them to a pot of boiling water until they start to soften. I prefer to cook the noodles to about 75% doneness in the water then allow them to finish cooking in the sauce while stir frying. This translates to taking 1-2 minutes off the cooking time suggested in the package directions.
Vegetables for Chow Mein
You can use any vegetables you like in chow mein, but some of the most popular vegetables to use are:
- Bell pepper
- Bean sprouts
- Green onion
- Snow peas/ snap peas
- Bok choy
When making stir fry, I often use whatever vegetables I have on hand and any that need to be used up. You can also use frozen vegetables to save time if you’re looking for a quick meal.
When cooking vegetable chow mein, the vegetables are sautéed in some oil before adding the noodles and sauce. Then you stir fry everything together and serve!
For this recipe, I’ve added edamame which isn’t a typical chow mein vegetable. However, it’s a delicious choice and adds some plant-based protein to the meal.
I’ve also opted to use spinach but this can easily be replaced by cabbage, bok choy or another type of leafy green vegetable!
Serve your delicious vegan chow mein topped with a sprinkle of sliced green onion or some sesame seeds! If you share your chow mein creation on social media, be sure to tag @lettucevegout because I’d love to see what you make.
Vegan Chow Mein
- Cutting Board
- Large pan
- Large pot
- 1 medium onion
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 large bell pepper (or 2 small)
- 1 ½ - 2 C carrot
- 2 tbsp cooking oil (I like avocado oil)
- 2 C snow peas
- 1 C edamame shelled
- 4 C raw spinach
- 450 g chow mein noodles
- Sliced green onion and/ or sesame seeds to serve
- Slice the onion and peppers, mince the garlic, and shred the carrots. Wash the snow peas and spinach. If needed, shell the edamame (I use frozen, already shelled edamame).
- Cook the chow mein noodles according to the package directions minus 1-2 minutes (ex. if the package says to cook for 5 minutes, cook for 3-4 minutes).
- Heat up a large wok or frying pan on medium-high heat. Add in the cooking oil and onion and cook for 2 minutes before adding in the garlic, pepper, and carrot. Let cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften.
- Add in the snow peas, spinach, edamame and mostly cooked chow mein noodles along with the remaining ingredients (2 tsp ground ginger, 4 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp mirin). Cook until the spinach has wilted down and the noodles are completely cooked, about 2 minutes.
- Serve topped with freshly sliced green onion and/ or toasted sesame seeds.
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This is an updated post: Original post date July 2017.