Cantonese style chow mein is characterized by a bed of crispy pan fried noodles topped with a delicious brown sauce with stirfried meat and veggies—it could be seafood, beef, chicken, etc. The brown sauce is usually a base of soy sauce and oyster sauce thickened by a cornstarch slurry.
Chow mein was often a dish we ordered when we went to a Cantonese restaurant or dim sum place and got as an "add on" dish (because for us, when we went for dim sum, we ate dim sum, and any other "entree" is really just in case you aren't full, or you want to bring it home as leftovers, haha). My dad would often order the chicken chow mein for us to eat and it is a memory I often associate with whenever I see it on the menu. I love the way the pan fried noodles would crackle and crunch when you cut into them, and how tender and moist the protein always was, regardless of whether it was chicken, beef, or pork.
The reason for this is due to the marinade used for the protein and then cooking it on high heat—this is a process called 'velveting' and it locks in all the juices, making even chicken breast tender and yummy.
Since we've been craving childhood favorites lately, and because there is truly a shortage of good, authentic Asian eats where I live, I found our local mini Asian market sold chow mein in their freezer, I decided to make this restaurant favorite at home! I air fried the noodles rather than frying the noodles pan or wok of oil so it is just mildly healthier than the restaurant version! It was so crispehhhhhh 😍
The package of chow mein noodles we got had 4 servings, so we just used half and saved the other half to make again later in the week. You can always make as much as you want, but we have a small airfryer so it wouldn't have fit all of it in one go anyway, haha. Be sure to get the thin chow mein noodles--thick noodles won't crisp up the same way.
AIR FRYER BEEF CHOW MEIN
Makes 2 servings
Air Fryer Chow Mein
- 1/2 package Chow mein noodles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- salt* optional
Marinade for Beef
- 6 oz beef, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3 stalks of scallions
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup water or low sodium chicken broth
1. Marinate your sliced beef in 1 tbsp cornstarch, a sprinkling of salt, black pepper, sugar, oyster sauce, and 2 tbsp water. Mix well and let marinate for 10 minutes.
2. Boil the chow mein noodles briefly, about 1-2 minutes. Then drain and run through cold water to remove any excess starch, and get rid of as much liquid as possible in the strainer. Use paper towels to dry if needed.
3. Add the olive oil and sesame oil to the chow mein in a large mixing bowl and mix well to ensure the noodles are coated. You can add a pinch of salt and mix in as well, but optional.
4. Lay the noodles flat in your air fryer rack with a piece of parchment paper underneath the noodles. Airfry at 380°F for 10 minutes. Then flip the noodles and move the noodles around so that all the crispy edges are under and the non crispy noodles are exposed. Airfry again at 380°F for 7 minutes. At this point, check to see if it is crispy throughout, and if not, mix the noodles and make sure the non crispy noodles are exposed and airfry again, 3 minutes at a time until it reaches desired crispness. The time may differ based on how dry you were able to get your noodles.
5. While the noodles are airfrying, add a little oil to your fry pan and cook your beef until seared brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and cook your onions in the remaining oil until onions are brown and translucent.
6. Make your sauce mixture with cornstarch, water (or low sodium chicken broth), oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, and black pepper. Add your beef back in, add scallions, and add the sauce mixture and mix. Cook until the sauce thickens and taste—add salt if needed, but if you use chicken broth, most likely do not need extra salt. Once the sauce is thickened to your desired consistency, shut off the heat.
7. Once airfried chow mein noodles reach the desired crispness, put onto a large plate and spoon the beef and onions sauce on top. Garnish with more scallions if desired and enjoy!
Until next time,
Just a gal who loves to eat and cook ❤