Beef Chow Mein – Dinner at the Zoo

This beef chow mein is tender steak stir fried with vegetables and noodles in a flavorful sauce. A homemade version of the take out classic that’s even better than what you would get at a restaurant!

My family loves Asian food, and I’ve learned to recreate their favorite dishes at home including egg rolls, kung pao chicken and this savory beef chow mein.

Tongs serving up a portion of beef chow mein.

Whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant, I have to order the beef chow mein. That combination of savory meat, tender noodles and colorful veggies just can’t be beat. This recipe gives you the same great restaurant flavors, but in the comfort of your own home.

How do you make beef chow mein?

This recipe starts with flank steak, which goes into a marinade made of soy sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil and sugar. This mixture helps to tenderize the meat, as well as add flavor. The steak needs to sit in the marinade for a minimum of 10 minutes.

While the meat is marinating, prepare your vegetables. The meat and vegetables cook in a pan until tender and golden brown. Cooked chow mein noodles are added to the mix, along with a sauce that contains beef broth, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Let the sauce simmer with the noodles and vegetables to thicken, then stir in green onions and serve.

Sliced flank steak and cornstarch in a bowl.

Tips for the perfect chow mein

  • I find that flank steak works best in this recipe, but you can also use skirt steak or thinly sliced sirloin.
  • Place your meat in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to firm it up, it makes it much easier to cut thin slices this way.
  • The meat can marinate for up to 8 hours if you have the time.
  • I use a mandoline to thinly slice the cabbage and onions, it saves a lot of time!
  • Be sure to use low sodium soy sauce and beef broth so that you can control the salt level of the finished dish.

Seared steak slices in a pan.

Beef Chow Mein variations

This dish is absolutely delicious as-is, but you can add other ingredients to the mix to customize it to your tastes.

  • Protein: Instead of flank steak, try sliced chicken, ground beef, pork tenderloin or even shrimp.
  • Vegetables: Feel free to add other vegetables such as mushrooms, bok choy, red bell peppers or zucchini.
  • Flavorings: There are a  variety of other flavors you can add such as sriracha, fresh minced ginger, cashews or sesame seeds.

What is the difference between chow mein and lo mein?

Lo mein and chow mein are very similar dishes. Chow mein noodles may be thinner than lo mein noodles. Also, lo mein noodles are boiled, while chow mein noodles are boiled and then stir fried.

Cooked carrots, onions and celery in a skillet.

What noodles do you use for chow mein?

Chow mein is typically made with thin egg noodles, either the fresh or dried variety. If you look in the ethnic foods aisle of your local grocery store, you will often find dried packets of noodles labeled as chow mein noodles. If you can’t find chow mein noodles, you can substitute another thing long noodle such as yakisoba or even spaghetti.

A bowl of beef chow mein topped with sliced green onions.

Once you try this beef chow mein, you won’t even feel the need to order take out. It’s just that good, and surprisingly easy to make!

More Asian dishes you’ll enjoy

Beef Chow Mein Video

Beef Chow Mein

This beef chow mein is tender steak stir fried with vegetables and noodles in a flavorful sauce. A homemade version of the take out classic that’s even better than what you would get at a restaurant!

Keyword beef chow mein, chow mein

Ingredients

For the beef

  • 1/2 pound flank steak thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the chow mein

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces dry chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup carrots shredded or julienned
  • 1/4 cup celery thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion tops (only the dark green part)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the beef

  • Place the flank steak, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce and cornstarch in a bowl. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

For the chow mein

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the chow mein noodles and cook according to package instructions.

  • Preheat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. 

  • Add the steak in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until browned. 

  • Remove the steak from the pan and cover to keep warm. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes or until just softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

  • Add the beef, noodles and cabbage to the pan. Toss to combine.

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, beef broth, cornstarch and sesame oil. Add the sauce to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute.

  • Stir until sauce evenly coats the noodles. Add the green onion tops and cook for 1-2 more minutes, until green onions and cabbage are wilted. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 336kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 806mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g

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