Cabbage ‘Chow Mein’

Cabbage 'Chow Mein'

I have to confess, I don’t know if I’ve ever really had Chinese Chow Mein. So this Cabbage ‘Chow Mein’ is more of an idea from my head rather than an attempt to simplify a classic dish that I know and love.

Anyway in my imaginary world (with my imaginary ‘friends’), Chow Mein is some sort of noodle dish with some veggies thrown in.

I used to love noodles but these days I much prefer to have a big bowl of cabbage rather than some carby stodge.

Which is where the idea for this dish came from. What if I used a bag of pre-chopped coleslaw mix and used it instead of noodles. Lets just say you *have* to try this.

The cabbage and carrot cook down into a perfect soft ‘noodle’ consistency deeply flavoured from the oyster sauce. You’ll wish you’d bought an extra bag of cabbage!

Although if you’re up for a few extra minutes of chopping therapy, feel free to use whole cabbage and carrots instead.

Cabbage 'Chow Mein'
5 from 2 votes

Cabbage 'Chow Mein'

Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 people


  • 400 g coleslaw mix OR 2 carrots and 1/4 large cabbage
  • 450 g ground minced pork or other meat
  • 4 tablespoons oyster sauce OR 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 50 g roast peanuts or cashews
  • 1 bunch coriander cilantro or mint leaves picked


  1. Heat a large wok or frying pan on a high heat. Add a splash of oil then add the cabbage mix. Cook covered for a minute, Then stir and recover. Keep stirring and recovering every minute until the cabbage is no longer crunchy. IT will only take a few minutes total. Remove the cabbage and keep warm in a clean bowl.
  2. Return the pan to the heat and add a little more oil. Cook meat uncovered, stirring to break it up for a few minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
  3. Quickly return the veg to the pan and add the oyster (or soy) sauce. Stir over the heat just to warm everything through. Remove from the heat. Taste and add a little salt or more sauce if needed. Generally I find the oyster sauce is all I need.
  4. Serve your delicious cabbage and meat topped with the herbs and nuts. Enjoy asap.

Recipe Video

NET CARBS 30g/100g
If using soy sauce the net carbs are 19g/serve.

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Variations & Substitutions for Cabbage ‘Chow Mein’

extra flavour – it doesn’t need it but you could add some chilli, garlic or ginger to cook with the meat. Or some sichuan peppercorns.

pantry-friendly – use frozen green beans or broccoli instead of the coleslaw mix.

Keto / ultra low carb – use the soy sauce and peanuts. And use just cabbage without the carrot.

vegetarian – scramble some eggs in with the cooked veg (soo delicious) or try crumbled tofu or tempeh. Or use cooked chickpeas or lentils in place of the meat. And either use vegetarian ‘oyster’ sauce (they do exist) or the soy option.

different protein – any ground or sliced meat will be fantastic here. Especially chicken. I’m also thinking a diced salmon variation would be great. And I’ve added the egg version to our meal plan for next week.

more substantial (carb lovers)fried rice or steamed rice or cooked noodles.

more substantial (low carb) – extra nuts. Extra meat. chunks of avocado.

different vegetables – any stir fry veg will work. Celery, snow peas (mange tout), green beans, red or green capsicum (bell peppers), baby corn, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, fennel.

different sauce – Chinese chilli bean sauce will take it in a hotter direction. Or hoisin sauce. Or a combo of honey and soy sauce can be lovely.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

coleslaw mix – will keep in a the bag in the fridge for weeks. Can be frozen but will have a wilted texture once defrosted.

carrots – keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for weeks. Can be frozen if you’re leaving town!

cabbage – will keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for weeks, even months. Can be frozen but will have a wilted texture once defrosted.

ground (minced) pork or other meat – freeze it.

oyster sauce – unopened bottles keep in the pantry. Once opened will keep in the fridge for months.

soy sauce / roast peanuts / cashews – keep them in the pantry.

coriander – best to use for another meal. Can be frozen but will wilt when defrosted.

mint – best to use for another meal. leaves can be frozen but will wilt when defrosted so not ideal. Alternatively make a mint oil by packing washed and dried leaves in a clean dry glass jar and covering with extra virgin olive oil.

Problem Solving Guide

bland – more sauce! My Irishman would be reaching for the Tabasco bottle :)

too sweet – the oyster sauce does add sweetness. You can balance it by adding some soy sauce or a little salt.

too salty – if using soy sauce be careful not to use as much as the oyster sauce next time. For now a splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lime juice can help. If it’s really bad the only option is to dilute by adding extra veggies or serving with rice.

burning – if the veg start to burn, add a splash of water and stir vigorously. Keep stirring until they’re cooked through.

veg taking ages – cooking time depends on the size of your pan and the heat of your highest setting. The more crowded the longer it will take. If your pan is small remove half the cabbage and cook in batches instead.

sticking to the pan – next time make sure your pan is hot before adding the oil and make sure the oil is hot before adding the food. For now remove from the heat and stirring in a splash of water will help it release.

Prepare Ahead

Yes! Just cook as per the recipe but keep the herbs and nuts separately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks or can be frozen. To serve, warm in a pan with a little oil and top with the herbs and nuts.

Cabbage 'Chow Mein'

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With love,
Jules x

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  • 5 stars
    Loved it! Came together super-fast with a bag of mixed cabbage/broccoli/carrot. I actually did make noodles, spag noodles and used a pack of Ground Round (vegan meat). Additions of Chili Crisp condiment,topped with black sesame seeds. Totally quick and delicious! Thanks Jules!

  • 5 stars
    This is such an easy and quick recipe and delicious too! It has become a staple in our home each week as it is so easy to substitute whatever veg or meat you have o hand. Thanks Jules for the idea!

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