How To Make Chow Mein Without Oyster Sauce? Experts Explain

Are you a fan of Chinese cuisine but struggle to find vegetarian or vegan options that still pack a punch of flavor?

Look no further than this recipe for chow mein without oyster sauce. With a simple homemade sauce and loaded with healthy vegetables, this dish is sure to satisfy your cravings.

Plus, we’ll show you how to make it using easy-to-find ingredients and without sacrificing any of the traditional chow mein texture or taste.

So, let’s get started on creating a delicious and meat-free version of this classic dish!

How To Make Chow Mein Without Oyster Sauce?

First, let’s talk about the traditional chow mein sauce. It typically contains oyster sauce, which is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. But fear not, we have a solution!

Instead of oyster sauce, we’ll be using a homemade sauce made with basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Here’s what you’ll need:

– Cornstarch: Use just a little for thickening.

– Soy sauce: Avoid dark or sweet soy sauce; use regular or lite.

– Vegetarian oyster sauce: This gives an amazing depth of flavor. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t make the dish taste like oysters.) Hoisin sauce can be used in a pinch, but the flavor will be different. If you aren’t vegetarian and just want a veggie-loaded entrée, you can use regular oyster sauce.

– Vegetable stock: I prefer the heartier flavor of stock, but broth also works here. Use low sodium if you’re watching your salt. Again, if you aren’t vegetarian, you can use chicken stock or broth in place of vegetable stock.

– Brown sugar: Add just a little to balance everything out.

– Sesame oil: It adds a great authentic flavor.

To make the sauce, simply whisk together 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup vegetarian oyster sauce, 1/2 cup vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a bowl. Set aside.

Now onto the chow mein itself. You’ll need:

– Chow mein noodles

– Vegetables of your choice (such as carrots, bell peppers, onions, and cabbage)

– Tofu (optional)

– Garlic and ginger (optional)

– Vegetable oil

To prepare the chow mein, cook the noodles according to package instructions and set aside. In a wok or large skillet over high heat, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and stir-fry the vegetables (and tofu if using) until tender-crisp. Add garlic and ginger if desired.

Next, add the cooked noodles to the wok and pour in the homemade chow mein sauce. Stir-fry everything together until heated through and the sauce has thickened.

And that’s it! You now have a delicious vegetarian or vegan version of chow mein without oyster sauce. Serve hot and enjoy!

The Importance Of Oyster Sauce In Chow Mein

Oyster sauce is a key ingredient in traditional chow mein, providing a unique umami flavor that is difficult to replicate. However, for those who cannot or choose not to consume oyster sauce, there are alternatives available. While vegetarian oyster sauce can be used as a substitute, it may not provide the exact same flavor profile as traditional oyster sauce.

The sauce in chow mein is an essential component of the dish, providing moisture and flavor to the noodles and vegetables. Oyster sauce adds a depth of flavor that is difficult to replicate with other ingredients. It is made from oysters, sugar, salt, and soy sauce, which give it a unique savory taste. The sauce also contains cornstarch or another thickening agent to give it a slightly thicker consistency.

While there are no perfect substitutes for oyster sauce, there are ways to mimic its flavor profile. Worcestershire sauce can be mixed with soy sauce and sugar to create a suitable substitute for oyster sauce. However, it should be used in small amounts as it has a strong flavor that can overpower the dish.

Homemade Chow Mein Sauce Recipe

Making your own chow mein sauce from scratch is easy and allows you to control the ingredients. Here’s a simple recipe for homemade chow mein sauce:


– 1 tablespoon cornstarch

– 1/4 cup soy sauce

– 1/4 cup vegetarian oyster sauce

– 1/2 cup vegetable stock

– 1 tablespoon brown sugar

– 1 tablespoon sesame oil


1. In a bowl, whisk together cornstarch, soy sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, vegetable stock, brown sugar, and sesame oil until well combined.

2. Set the sauce aside until ready to use in your chow mein recipe.

This homemade chow mein sauce is flavorful and versatile. You can adjust the sweetness, saltiness, or spiciness to your liking by tweaking the amounts of brown sugar, soy sauce, or other seasonings. Plus, it’s much healthier than store-bought sauces that often contain preservatives and additives. Give it a try and elevate your chow mein game!

Choosing Vegetables For Your Chow Mein

When it comes to choosing vegetables for your chow mein, the options are endless. Some classic choices include carrots, bell peppers, onions, and cabbage. However, feel free to get creative and add your favorite veggies.

To prep your veggies, thinly slice or chop them into bite-sized pieces. This will ensure that they cook evenly and quickly in the wok or skillet.

If you’re looking to add some protein to your chow mein, tofu is a great option. Simply dice it into small pieces and stir-fry it with the veggies.

When stir-frying your veggies, it’s important to not overcook them. You want them to be tender-crisp so that they retain their texture and flavor.

Preparing Your Noodles

To prepare your noodles for chow mein, start by boiling at least 4 cups of water in a pot on high heat. Once the water is boiling, add your chow mein noodles to the pot and stir constantly for 30-60 seconds to prevent sticking. Cover the pot and wait for it to boil again, which should take about 3 minutes.

Once the noodles are boiling again, remove the lid and set the stove to a simmer. Stir the noodles for about 30 seconds, then cover the pot again and cook for another 5 minutes. This should result in perfectly cooked noodles that are tender but not mushy.

Once your noodles are done, drain them in a colander and rinse with cold water for 10-15 seconds. This will stop the cooking process and prevent the noodles from sticking together.

Now that your noodles are ready, you can add them to your stir-fried vegetables and sauce in the wok or skillet. Toss everything together until it’s evenly coated and heated through. And there you have it – a delicious and easy chow mein dish without oyster sauce!

Cooking Your Chow Mein

Now that you have your homemade chow mein sauce and your ingredients prepared, it’s time to cook your chow mein.

First, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add your vegetables (and tofu if using) and stir-fry until they are tender-crisp. This should take about 3-5 minutes.

If desired, add minced garlic and ginger to the pan and stir-fry for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute. This will add some extra flavor to your dish.

Next, add your cooked chow mein noodles to the pan and pour in the homemade chow mein sauce. Use tongs or a spatula to toss everything together until the sauce has thickened and everything is heated through. This should take about 2-3 minutes.

If you find that your sauce is too thick, you can add a little bit of vegetable stock or water to thin it out.

Once everything is heated through and the sauce has thickened to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and serve your chow mein immediately. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions And Variations

Chow mein is a versatile dish that can be customized to your liking. Here are some serving suggestions and variations to try:

– Protein: While this recipe is vegetarian, you can easily add chicken, beef, shrimp, or any protein of your choice. Simply cook it separately and add it to the stir-fry along with the vegetables.

– Spiciness: If you like a bit of heat, add some red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce to the chow mein sauce.

– Garnishes: Top your chow mein with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, or cilantro for added flavor and texture.

– Noodle Variations: If you can’t find chow mein noodles, you can use lo mein noodles, spaghetti noodles, or even rice noodles. Just keep in mind that cooking times may vary.

– Vegetable Variations: Feel free to use any vegetables you have on hand or prefer. Bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas, and bean sprouts would all work well in this dish.

– Sauce Variations: If you don’t have all the ingredients for the homemade chow mein sauce, you can use a store-bought stir-fry sauce or make a simple sauce with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and cornstarch.

– Leftovers: Chow mein makes great leftovers! You can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 2 months. To reheat, simply microwave or stir-fry until heated through.

With these serving suggestions and variations, you can easily make this chow mein recipe your own. Enjoy!