24 October 2016
Pan-fry the noodles to achieve the authentic taste of Cantonese fried noodles with shredded pork. Photo:
Pan-fry the noodles to achieve the authentic taste of Cantonese fried noodles with shredded pork. Photo:

How to bring out the spirit of wok in your fried noodles

You’ve probably wondered why fried rice or fried noodles ordered from a Chinese restaurant often taste a lot better than those prepared at home.

That’s because of wok hei (鑊氣), which literally means “the breath of the wok”.

It’s an abstract idea referring to the flavor or spirit that comes out of a sizzling Chinese wok and is transferred to the food in the process of stir-frying.

Truth to tell, you can also inject the essence of wok hei into your homemade dishes. The key is to keep the portions smaller.

First, I have to stress that in preparing a dish of Cantonese fried noodles with shredded pork (肉絲炒麵), you should not deep-fry the noodles. 

The authentic way is to pan-fry the noodles till they turn crispy.

100g whole egg noodles, dried or freshly half-dried ones
75g pork, shredded
15g Chinese mushrooms, sliced
40g garlic chives
40g bean sprouts
1 shallot
1 garlic
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp Shaoxing wine

Marinade for the pork
0.5 tbsp water
1 egg white
1/6 tsp Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp light soya sauce
Pepper powder
3/4 tsp potato flour mixed with 1 tsp water
1/4 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp canola oil

Sauce for the noodles
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
2 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
Pepper powder
120mL hot water
120mL chicken broth
Potato flour mixed

For whole egg noodles, there are dried ones from grocery stores and the fresh half-dried variety from traditional noodles factories.

If you’re using dried noodles, first put them into a pot of boiling water and give the noodles a stir to loosen them up till they are cooked thoroughly.

Cool them by rinsing with running water for one minute. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Preheat a nonstick pan fully and add a spoonful of oil. Then turn on a medium-low fire before adding the noodles.

Pan-fry one side for six to eight minutes with some salt and one or two spoonfuls of canola oil till it turns golden yellow. Repeat this step on the other side.

Marinate the shredded pork and refrigerate it for two hours in advance.

Preheat the wok with garlic and a spoon of oil. Pan-fry the pork fully.

Add the Shandong wine and Chinese mushrooms and stir them for one minute.

Stir-fry the shallot, garlic chives and bean sprouts. Then add the pork for another 30 seconds.

Prepare the sauce in the wok and adjust the thickness by adding suitable amount of potato flour mixed.

Place the pan-fried whole egg noodles on the plate, topped with shredded pork, sliced Chinese mushrooms, garlic chives, bean sprouts and the sauce.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 8.

Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]


(Cantonese only)

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Columnist of the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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