Your local Chinese restaurant is going to miss you, but now, you can make your favorite Chinese dish faster than they can deliver it to your house... and it'll taste better too. With some fresh ingredients and a sauce that can't be beaten, this Shrimp Chow Mein is about to become your new go-to.
With perfectly cooked, juicy shrimp, the greatest chow mein sauce you've ever laid tastebuds on, and a stellar combination of both sweet and savory elements, this dish packs so much flavor. This is a one-pan, no-fuss, quick-cooking meal that gets dinner on the table fast without compromising on a bit of goodness.
Whether you're looking for a healthy, weeknight dinner for your family or planning a menu to impress the guests the next time you host, you've come to the right place. For more recipes like this, try our Chicken Chow Mein, Beef and Broccoli, and Honey Garlic Shrimp.
WHAT IS CHOW MEIN?
Chow Mein is an authentic Chinese dish that literally translates as "stir-fried noodles" and that is exactly what it is, stir-fried noodles, plus some veggies, a sauce, and oftentimes some type of protein.
WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
It is believed that Chow Mein originated in Northern China, thousands of years ago. The dish has a speckled and not fully known past, but most agree on the idea that it started in China, eventually made its way to India, and then to the U.S.
In the late 1700's Chinese traders immigrated to India and of course, brought their recipes and traditions with them. They would make their authentic dishes but had to use some local ingredients, which in turn created a whole new genre of fusion cuisine. The Indian version of Chow Mein is often times served sans meat due to the popularity of the vegetarian diet in that region.
Eventually, the popular noodle dish showed up in the U.S. and even more people got the opportunity to enjoy the delicious flavors. In fact, people liked it so much, they wanted a quicker version to make at home, and thus was born the crunchy, little pre-packaged noodles with a sauce that was sold separately to maintain the texture. The Americanized version of Chow Mein noodles even ended up in a traditional Christmas cookie recipe!
Luckily, even through all of its travels and changes, the traditional Chinese recipe has also been preserved and passed down and we still have the opportunity to enjoy it today.
HOW TO MAKE SHRIMP CHOW MEIN
The first thing you will do for your Shrimp Chow Mein is cook your chow mein noodles. Everything in this dish moves and cooks especially fast, and you don't want to be left waiting on water to boil when it comes time to move on to the next step.
Actually, before we get to cooking, let's talk noodles. Chow mein means "fried noodles" in Chinese; lo mein means "tossed noodles." There really is not much of a difference between lo mein and chow mein noodles when it comes to cooking at home, as you will be both tossing noodles... and technically making stir-fried noodles.
Both types of noodles are considered egg noodles and are made from wheat, but one visible difference you might often see when picking up a package of chow mein noodles at the grocery store is that they often appear a bit thinner than the lo mein noodles.
Point of the story? If you accidentally grab a package labeled lo mein noodles for your Shrimp Chow Mein, it doesn't matter. It all turns out pretty much the same!
Cook either your chow mein or lo mein noodles according to package instructions in boiling water, and then set the cooked noodles aside. As soon as the noodles are ready, you will move on to the sauce.
Again because everything moves so quickly once you get cooking, You want to get any prep work like chopping vegetables or measuring out ingredients out of the way first. The sauce comes together so easily, but there is some measuring involved!
Here's what you'll need for the most delicious Shrimp Chow Mein sauce: soy sauce, hoisin sauce, minced ginger, minced garlic, granulated sugar, sesame oil, and water. Another ingredient you will need for your chow mein sauce is cornstarch.
Cornstarch serves as the thickener in this sauce recipe. However, to avoid lumps of cornstarch in your sauce, y'all want to incorporate it with about a tablespoon of soy sauce before adding in the other liquid ingredients. This is also known as a cornstarch slurry.
So here's how this goes: add about a tablespoon of soy sauce to a small mixing bowl. Then, add a tablespoon of cornstarch. Whisk the two together until well combined, and then you can add in the remaining soy sauce followed by the rest of the chow mein sauce ingredients.
Once all of the ingredients are together, set the mixture aside and we'll come back to it at the end of the recipe!
Now, we bring our attention to the shrimp! The shrimp you'll be using for this Shrimp Chow Mein recipe is jumbo shrimp, which typically has a shrimp count of 21 to 25 shrimp per pound. You want to make sure that your shrimp are peeled and deveined, and you can also go ahead and remove the tails to make eating a bit more convenient for yourself and the fam.
Once the shrimp are prepped, lay down a couple of layers of paper towels on your work surface, lay the shrimp across the paper towels in a single layer, and then top the shrimp with another couple layers of paper towels. Gently press down on the shrimp to remove any excess moisture from its exterior.
Next, transfer the shrimp to a mixing bowl and drizzle with a tablespoon of either canola or avocado oil. Sprinkle the shrimp with kosher salt and black pepper and toss until it is combined and well coated.
It is officially time to cook some shrimp. In your largest (preferably nonstick) fry or sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of either avocado or canola oil. Once the pan and oil have come to temperature, add the shrimp and cook in a single layer for about 2-3 minutes. Then, flip the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes more.
Take care not to overcrowd the pan, cooking the shrimp in a single year. If the pan gets too crowded, the shrimp will steam rather than sear. Properly seared shrimp will have a much better flavor than steamed shrimp.
You know your shrimp are fully cooked through when the tails begin to curl inward, the shrimp appears pink in color, and the interior is entirely opaque and no longer translucent inside at all. Remove the shrimp from the pan, set them aside, and let's cook some veggies!
The vegetables used in this Shrimp Chow Mein recipe are red bell pepper, yellow onion, shiitake mushrooms, shredded cabbage, carrots, and baby bok choy.
As I mentioned above, the cooking portion of this recipe takes place pretty fast and is very hands-on, so you will want to have as much vegetable prep done at the beginning as you possibly can. This means your bell pepper, onion, and bok choy should all be sliced into quarter-inch strips.
To save time on veggie prep and keep this an easy weeknight dinner, we use prepackaged coleslaw mix, which typically consists of both shredded cabbage and matchstick carrots. We also enlist the help of prepackaged washed, cleaned, and sliced shiitake mushrooms.
Add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the hot pan, and add the bell pepper, onion, and shiitake mushrooms. Do not make the mistake of adding all the vegetables at once; they do not cook for the same length of time.
Stir these vegetables around occasionally for about 4 minutes, and as soon as they have softened, you can add in the cabbage and bok choy.
Cook the cabbage and bok choy for another 2 minutes, and then you will pour in your prepared sauce. Toss the vegetables in the sauce and allow the mixture to simmer for about 2 minutes more. At this point, your bok choy should have slightly softened, and you will add the noodles and the shrimp. Toss all these ingredients together in the sauce until well coated.
TOPPINGS FOR SHRIMP CHOW MEIN
We like to serve our Shrimp Chow Mein with a sprinkle of chopped green onions, sesame seeds, or red pepper flakes, but there are many options out there so top it off however you'd like and enjoy!
6 MORE SHRIMP RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
- Shrimp Enchiladas
- Shrimp Quesadillas
- Stuffed Shrimp
- Shrimp Sandwich
- Shrimp and Pasta
This Shrimp Chow Mein recipe is easy enough to work for weeknight dinners, yet tastes like it is straight from your favorite restaurant.
- 1 (6-ounce) package chow mein noodles
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ½ cup water
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp (21/25 count), peeled and deveined
- 3 tablespoon canola or avocado oil, separated
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola or avocado oil
- 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into ¼" strips
- 1 yellow onion, cut into ¼" strips
- 1 (8-ounce) package sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup coleslaw mix (or shredded cabbage)
- 1 baby bok choy, sliced crosswise into ¼" strips
Cook the chow mein noodles according to package directions and set aside until ready to use. In the meantime, prepare the sauce.
Add a tablespoon of the soy sauce to a small bowl, followed by the cornstarch. Whisk using the tines of your fork until smooth. Add the remaining soy sauce and whisk to combine. Add all of the remaining sauce ingredients and stir. Set aside until ready to use.
Pat the excess moisture away from the shrimp using a paper towel. Add the shrimp to a medium-sized mixing bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, add spices, and toss until evenly coated. Set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Then, add one single layer of shrimp, leaving a bit of space in between each one.
Cook for about 2 minutes, then flip and cook for about 2 minutes more on the other side. Repeat the cooking process with any remaining shrimp. The shrimp are ready when completely opaque and semi-firm to the touch. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the hot pan and add the bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Stir to coat in the oil and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often.
Add the cabbage mix and bok choy, stir, and cook for about 2 minutes more.
Add the sauce to the veggie mixture and cook for about 2 minutes more. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the noodles and shrimp. Toss with tongs until coated. Serve and enjoy!