A quick stir-fry featuring springy noodles, tender chicken, and crunchy vegetables, this chow mei fun recipe takes little effort to cook but is so satisfying to eat.
What is chow mei fun?
Chow Mei Fun is a popular all-in-one Chinese dish. Chow/炒 means “to stir-fry” while Mei Fun/米粉 refers to thin, round rice noodles that are often labeled as rice vermicelli.
This dish features soft, springy rice noodles stir-fried with proteins (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, egg, tofu, etc.), vegetables, and flavored with aromatics and classic Chinese condiments.
Different from the well-known Singapore Mei Fun that I shared earlier, today’s mei fun recipe calls for fewer ingredients and has more room for improvisation. Like Chow Mein on my blog, I often cook it as a way to use up whatever is available in my fridge. It always tastes wonderful!
Before I explain the recipe in detail, here are some tips to bear in mind:
- Soak and cook the noodles as briefly as possible to retain their springy texture.
- Feel free to use this recipe as a guide and improvise with whatever proteins & vegetables are available.
- Avoid overcrowding when stir-frying. Cook in batches if making a larger quantity.
- Both a wok and a large skillet work well.
Ingredients & substitutes
You’ll need the following ingredients to cook this dish:
- Mei fun (also spelled as mai fun), aka rice vermicelli noodles /thin rice noodles (More info in the next section).
- Chicken breast & its marinade (cornstarch, salt, and Shaoxing rice wine). You may also use beef, pork or shrimp as substitutes.
- Vegetables: bell pepper, mushrooms, and bean sprouts (or other crunchy veggies, such as bok choy, carrots, cabbage, onion, celery, etc.)
- Aromatics: scallions and garlic (or ginger if you prefer)
- Seasonings: light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, and sesame oil
- Neutral cooking oil. It can be sunflower, canola, rapeseed, vegetable, peanut, avocado oil, etc.
About mei fun
When it comes to noodles, do you ever find yourself puzzled by their Chinese names? I’ve created the table below comparing a few types that are often confused with mei fun.
|Mei Fun/米粉 vs Ho Fun/河粉||Both of them are rice noodles and come in both dried and fresh forms. Mei Fun has very thin, round strands, while Ho Fun refers to wide, flat noodles that are found in the popular Beef Ho Fun (aka beef chow fun)|
|Mei Fun/米粉 vs Mein/面||Mei Fun is made of rice, hence gluten-free, whereas Mein refers to wheat flour-based noodles. Both Chow Mein and Lo Mein call for the latter.|
|Mei Fun/米粉 vs Fen Si/粉丝||Mei fun and Fen Si look very similar when uncooked, but the latter is made of mung bean starch and becomes more translucent after cooking (see the recipe for Glass Noodle Salad).|
To adapt this dish to a vegetarian or vegan diet, replace chicken with eggs or smoked/five-spice tofu. Follow the technique found in Tomato & Egg Stir-Fry to scramble the eggs. Smoked/five-spice tofu can be added with the vegetables.
To make chicken mei fun, you can use either a wok or a large skillet/ sauté pan to stir-fry.
Step 1: Marinate the chicken
To ensure the tenderness of the chicken, it’s best to marinate it before cooking. This is particularly important when using breasts.
First, cut it into thin slices. Then mix them with cornstarch, Shaoxing rice wine, and a little salt. Once everything is evenly distributed and the liquid is fully absorbed by the chicken, coat with a thin layer of cooking oil to help lock in the moisture. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so.
Step 2: Soak the noodles
While waiting for the chicken to marinate, prepare the dried mei fun noodles by soaking them in hot water (just boiled). After 2 minutes, drain the noodles then cut them shorter with scissors.
🌟 TIP: Since the noodles will be cooked further in later steps, it’s important not to oversoak them at this stage. Otherwise, they may become sticky and sloppy, losing their pleasantly springy texture.
Step 3: Mix the sauce
When making a quick stir-fry, it’s always a good idea to measure and mix seasonings before cooking starts. This reduces your chance of burning food in a hot wok.
In a small bowl, mix light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, and sesame oil. Set aside.
Step 4: Sear the chicken
As I explained in the recipe for Chicken Chop Suey, the meat needs to be seared separately and then added to other ingredients at the end. This technique prevents the chicken from being overcooked.
Start by heating an empty wok/skillet until smoking hot, then add cooking oil and swirl it to cover a larger area (Note: if using non-stick cookware, add the oil first, then heat up). Put the chicken pieces in a single layer. Sear them over medium-high heat.
Do not rush to touch the chicken. Once the bottom side browns slightly, flip and toss to sear further until the pieces lose the pink color all around. Dish out to a plate for later use.
Step 5: combine the dish
Pour a little more oil into the vacant wok. Add the white part of the scallions and minced garlic. Sizzle them for about 20 seconds, then put in the drained noodles. Loosen the strands with chopsticks.
Turn the heat up to high. Add bell pepper, mushrooms, and bean sprouts. Stir and toss constantly until the mushrooms just start to wilt (the pepper and bean sprouts are still crunchy).
Return the seared chicken to the wok. Pour in the sauce mixture. Add the green part of the scallions. Stir-fry for a further 1 minute or so, then dish out and serve warm.
I can eat this quick and easy noodle dish any time of the day, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner. How about you?
Also, I like serving it as a sharing side dish for dinner parties. It disappears quickly, just like the forever popular egg fried rice.
A: To adapt it to a gluten-free diet, replace Shaoxing rice wine with dry sherry or water, substitute light and dark soy sauce with gluten-free soy sauce or tamari, and use vegetarian oyster flavored sauce instead of regular oyster sauce.
A: As I explain in my Wok Guide, you need to heat the empty wok first until it’s smoking hot, then add oil followed by the meat. This technique helps to create a non-stick effect. Do not tempt to flip/move the chicken until the surface touching the hot wok is properly seared. Also, check out how to properly season and maintain carbon steel woks if you’re unsure.
A: This can occur due to two factors: over-soaking the rice noodles for an extended period before stir-frying, or prolonging the stir-frying process beyond the recommended time.
Other easy all-in-one meals
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Easy Chow Mei Fun
For the chicken
- 1 piece chicken breast
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch - or tapioca, potato starch
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 teaspoon neutral cooking oil
For the noodles
- 3½ oz dried mei fun - aka rice vermicelli/thin rice noodles
For the seasoning
You also need
- 2 tablespoon neutral cooking oil - divided
- 3 stalk scallions - cut diagonally, white and green parts separated
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- ½ bell pepper - julienned
- 3½ oz fresh mushrooms - shiitake, oyster, or button mushrooms, sliced
- 3½ oz bean sprouts
Marinate the chicken
- Cut chicken breast into bite-sized, thin slices. Put them into a bowl. Add cornstarch, salt, and Shaoxing rice wine. Mix and rub until there is no more liquid to be seen. Add 1 teaspoon of cooking oil and stir to coat the chicken pieces evenly.
Prepare the noodles
- Put dried mei fun into a large bowl. Pour in just boiled water to fully submerge the noodles. Let sit for 2 minutes. Drain well then cut the noodles into shorter, more manageable sections.
Mix the seasoning
- Add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, and sesame oil to a small bowl. Mix well then set aside.
Sear the chicken
- Heat a wok/deep skillet until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (If using non-stick cookware, you need to add the oil first then start heating the wok/skillet). Swirl to coat a larger area of the wok. Put in the chicken slices and arrange them in a single layer.
- Once the bottom side browns slightly, flip and toss to sear further. As soon as the chicken no longer looks pink, transfer it out to a plate (do not overcook).
Combine the dish
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to the vacant wok. Sizzle the white part of the scallions and minced garlic until fragrant (do not burn).
- Put in the noodles then use chopsticks to loosen them. Add bell pepper, mushrooms, and bean sprouts. Stir and toss constantly to evenly cook everything.
- Once the mushrooms begin to wilt, put the chicken back into the wok, along with the seasoning mixture and the green part of the scallions. Give everything a final stir to well distribute the sauce. Dish out and serve immediately.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.