Chow mein is one of my favourite dinners to knock up in a hurry – and an excellent receptacle for odds and ends of vegetables kicking around in the fridge. Some dried noodles contain egg, so flip the packet over in the supermarket and check the ingredients. If you do struggle to find egg-free Chinese-style noodles, you can use dried spaghetti instead. It won’t be strictly traditional, but it’ll still be delicious.
Serves 2 generously or 4 as a side
- 4 fat cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp cooking oil, plus extra for cooking
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine or sherry vinegar
- 200g meaty mushrooms – shiitake, portobello or oyster work, but so do standard ones
- 200g dried noodles
- 1/2 head of Chinese or Savoy cabbage
- 1 large carrot, peeled
- 1 large onion or 4 spring onions
- generous handful of beansprouts
- First, peel and mince your garlic, and add it to a small jar with a tight screwtop lid. Measure in the sesame oil, ordinary oil, soy sauce and rice wine, and screw the lid on. Shake vigorously to make the marinade for your mushrooms.
- Finely slice your mushrooms and pop them in a mixing bowl, and pour over the marinade. Leave to stand for 15 minutes – mushrooms are very absorbent, so the marinade won’t take long.
- While the mushrooms soak in their dark and flavourful bath, you can cook the noodles. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, then drop them in. Cook according to packet instructions until tender but not overdone. Drain and leave to stand.
- Finely chop the cabbage and grate the carrot, and slice the onion or spring onions, and set to one side for a moment.
- Tip the mushrooms into a large non-stick frying or sauté pan, or a wok if you have one, along with all the marinade. Bring to a high heat and cook for 3–4 minutes until the mushrooms start to soften. Add the drained noodles, and a splash more oil and soy sauce if needed, and turn the heat up to high.
- Add the cabbage, onion, carrot and beansprouts, and cook for 5–6 minutes until the noodles are crisp and the veg is softened. Serve hot, but also enjoy cold from the fridge the next morning.
Approximate cost* per portion: £1.36
Vegan (ish) by Jack Monroe is available to buy now (Bluebird, £16.99)
*Approximate cost calculated using average prices from three main supermarket retailers in the UK. Price data accurate as of April 2020.