I find myself addicted to Chow Mein served at Panda Express, and have tried cooking it several times, failing each time.

I have followed these recipes:

The secret seems to be sugar+chicken broth.

However each time I make it I can never get the noodles quite right. They turn out mushy, and half of them stick to the pan.

I've tried vermicelli, Annie Chung's chow mein, and egg noodles.

How do I get nice, firm, golden chow mein noodles?

  • 1
    Ie had very similar problems until I used fresh noodles. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has any recommendations for dried noodles though.
    – nine9ths
    Dec 1, 2012 at 5:23

6 Answers 6


If your noodles are mushy, then you're overcooking them. Vermicelli take barely a minute or two to cook in already-boiling water. Egg noodles take a little longer, but either way, trying the noodles as they start to loosen up is the best way to ensure the right texture.

Remember, you are going to be cooking them again when you stir fry them, so they should be a little underdone when they come out of the broth. Rinsing in cold water will arrest the cooking process and also wash off the starch that can make the noodles stick to the wok when frying.

  • this time they turned out much better and edible, but still a little bit stuck to the pan. I think I may have overcooked the noodles still a bit, as they had began splitting from the middle when i picked them up. I will keep experimenting :]
    – Vigrond
    Dec 3, 2012 at 8:35
  • Sounds like it. If you can, let the noodles dry after rinsing and they will fry 'better'. Dec 3, 2012 at 8:36
  • I recommend putting some baking soda into the water while cooking the pasta. This makes the noodles more Asian in style.
    – Escoce
    Jun 13, 2016 at 0:13
  • And it makes them firmer
    – Escoce
    Jun 13, 2016 at 0:22

I agree with the first answer. If they're going mushy or sticky then they're over-cooked and/or are not being washed after cooking.

Cooking noodles and spaghetti isn't just a question of dropping them into boiling water and timing them, you have to understand or know when they're 'al dente' or 'just' done. Any less is under-cooked, any more is over-cooked, there's not much margin for error.

It also depends on how big your pan is, when you drop them in the water, how quickly you bring it back to the boil etc. You can't just rely on packet timing instructions, you have to know and understand yourself when they're just 'done' and stop the cooking immediately by straining and refreshing under running cold water and then tossing in oil ready for stir frying.

I'd suggest you practice your noodle cooking technique and experiment with various levels of 'doneness' and see which ones work out the best.

Also, make sure the noodles are cold and tossed in oil and not warm when you add them to the wok for stir frying.


I agree. Make sure your noodles are not over cooked. I usually wash them out with cold water after boiling and make sure all are separated properly. I am vegetarian so, I use sliced cut white onion, long cut peppers , celery, mushrooms and broccoli. stir fry all veggies with olive oil and once cooked half way, add Soya sauce and chili sauce per taste. mix and add noodles. stir fry all together until all veggies cooked. you can add chicken or egg as needed. Enjoy delicious noodle.


I read a recipe for east Indian style noodles (chow mein). She used ramen noodles and after boiling the noodles just enough to separate them (about 2-3 minutes), she strained and rinsed with cold water to stop the cooking process. This has helped keep my noodles firm throughout the stir-fry process. Hope this helps.


I agree with the others about cooking quickly, rinsing in cold water and stirring through oil. Another consideration is your heat source. Most homes do not have even a quarter the heat of a commercial wok furnace. Chinese Cantonese people call this heat ‘wok hei’ and it can’t be replicated at home. This is how Chinese restaurants can cook it so quickly, so it doesn’t get soggy. I worked in my parents’ Chinese restaurant for years!


Try using fresh Japanese soba noodles. They can be found in most Asian markets in the refrigerated areas.

  • Soba noodles and chow mein noodles are totally different. I don't think OP wants soba.
    – colejkeene
    Feb 6, 2013 at 1:02
  • And soba are even more difficult to keep from overcooking or getting sticky.... Jun 13, 2016 at 12:28

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