If you follow me on Instagram, I shared a bit about how my mom has started to take a liking to zoodles (zucchini noodles) this summer, so whenever I see pretty zucchinis that are fit for spiraling at the greenmarket, I grab ’em. (well actually, I pick them up and and bring them to the cashier and pay for them, like a respectable citizen, but anyway). I decided not to make zoodles with the usual tomato meatsauce this time and asked my mom for suggestions. She immediately suggested chow mein, and I loved the idea! (you guys know how I love posting Cantonese-influenced recipes).
I know chow mein is usually served with slices of meat, but we only had ground pork at the time, so we used that, which bring me to my next point: This recipe is very flexible! And since the “noodle” itself was already a veggie, I didn’t put any other kind in there, but feel free to put in a couple handfuls of any of your favorite ones. Just make sure they’re already cooked to make it easier to toss with the zoodles. For example, use chopped chicken thigh as your meat and add some broccoli and you’ve got chicken and broccoli chow mein!
This dish is so sneaky that my dad kept asking me if it was udon noodles. By doing the whole draining and blotting of the zucchini, it yields tender zoodles that really hold up to the heat of the wok. When you go to eat it, you slurp it up like you do regular noodles or pasta, and it even chews like noodles in our opinion. We have lovingly coined this dish “炒瓜麵” in our house, which means “fried squash noodles”, because it is both 炒瓜 and 炒麵.
- 3 medium yellow zucchinis
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 cup ground meat (pork, beef, chicken, turkey, or a mixture)
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder
- 1/2 large onion, chopped thinly against the grain (see picture below)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons lard or tallow
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted 1 stalk scallion, chopped thinly
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha or other chili sauce (optional)
Extra scallions and sesame seeds for garnishing (optional)
1. To begin, marinate your ground meat (I used pork) by adding the fresh ginger, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Keep covered in the fridge for 1 hour.
2. Prepare your zucchini. Using a spiralizer or a julienne peeler, shred your zucchinis into zoodles (here’s a great guide). Transfer all of the zoodles into a large bowl, sprinkle with sea salt and toss. Let stand and sweat for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. Drain the liquid afterwards and wash off the salt. Drain well and spread out the zoodles on a large clean towel. Keep uncovered in the fridge for at least 1 hour to dehydrate further (for more firm noodles)
3. In a frying pan, cook your marinated meat, breaking it apart with a spatula as it cooks. Set aside when cooked and beginning to brown but not dry. (I used ground pork so I didn’t need any oil in my pan, if you use chicken, it might be best to grease your pan first)
4. In a hot pan again, place 2 teaspoons of lard. Toss in the thinly sliced onions and gently stir-fry until soft. Set aside this as well.
5. In a large wok or large deep frying pan, heat up 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and 2 teaspoons of lard over medium-high heat. Blot your zoodles one last time with a clean towel or paper towel. Toss into the hot oil and stir-fry until soft. About 5 minutes. Toss in the already cooked onions, ground meat, sesame seeds and scallions and toss on high heat for 30 seconds.
6. Transfer to a plate and immediately garnish with more chopped scallions and sesame seeds. Serve hot.
Feel free to modify this recipe as need be if you enjoy a spicier chow mein. Either more sriracha can be added or thinly chopped fresh chilies.