Does Chow Mein Freeze Well?

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Test your chopstick skills with chow mein.
Test your chopstick skills with chow mein. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Double your chow mein recipe next time you make it and freeze the leftovers for a quick and nourishing meal on a busy night. This classic Chinese comfort food made of noodles stir-fried with meats and vegetables is highly versatile to suit a variety of tastes.

Chow Mein Basics

Chow mein is a general term for a type of Chinese egg noodles, as well as the dish prepared using them. Make chicken, beef, pork and vegetable chow mein by stir-frying the par-boiled noodles with meats and vegetables until the noodles are slightly crisped, yet still tender. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and black pepper. Include vegetables such as cabbage -- the most common addition -- as well as carrots, mushrooms or celery.

Freezing Chow Mein

Cook chow mein noodles as usual by par-boiling them until just tender and stir-frying with vegetables and meat before freezing. While some types of noodles are best cooked underdone before freezing, chow mein noodles will stand up well to freezing when prepared in their typical manner. Freeze chow mein in an airtight storage container or freezer-safe zip-top plastic bag. When using a plastic bag, remove as much air as possible from the bag before freezing to ensure quality.

Freezing Timeline

While continuously frozen foods will remain safe indefinitely, freezing chow mein for more three months leads to a decline in quality. Whether you are freezing takeout, leftovers or chow mein made specifically to go in the freezer, be sure to do it within two hours of preparation to prevent the harmful growth of bacteria. When possible, allow chow mein to cool to room temperature before freezing to prevent condensation in the container which can lead to a decline in quality and freezer burn.

Reheating Chow Mein

To prepare frozen chow mein, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator to prevent it from becoming mushy during the heating process. Avoid using the microwave to defrost frozen chow mein, as it can negatively affect the texture of the noodles. Add a small amount of cooking oil to a pan and heat it to medium-high on the stove before tossing in the chow mein, stirring frequently to prevent the noodles from scorching. Reheat thawed chow mein in the microwave for a quick approach. Use full power and add a tablespoon or two of water into the dish with the chow mein to prevent the noodles from drying out. Heat until the chow mein is steaming and registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer.

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