Kid-friendly Shanghai Stir-Fried Chunky Noodles + Sautéed Bok Choy Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Shanghai Stir-Fried Chunky Noodles + Sautéed Bok Choy

Recipe: Shanghai Stir-Fried Chunky Noodles + Sautéed Bok Choy

Shanghai Stir-Fried Chunky Noodles + Sautéed Bok Choy

by Erin Fletter
Photo by bonchan/
prep time
25 minutes
cook time
15 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Shanghai Stir-Fried Chunky Noodles + Sautéed Bok Choy

Eating long noodles with your friends and family for the new year is considered good luck and will ensure happiness. This is because in Chinese, the words for face (miàn) and noodle (mein) sound the same, it eventually came to be that people ate long noodles to symbolize a long face and therefore long life. This recipe is everything that I LOVE about preparing and eating food with kids … It brings together food, fun, family, tradition and history wrapped up into a beautiful and healthy bowl of steaming noodles. My husband and I always order Shanghai Noodles for our kids when we eat out at Chinese restaurants. Our kids immediately devour those noodles, ignoring everything else on the table. This Shanghai Stir-Fried Noodles recipe is a super easy dish to make, with only a few ingredients. It’ll be done and on the table within 15 to 20 minutes. I assure you that everyone in your family will love it. If you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, simply add your favorite meats to the dish. 美味 Měiwèi—"yummy" in Mandarin Chinese.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

Equipment Checklist

  • Large bowl or pot for soaking noodles
  • Colander
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Medium bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small bowl
  • Nonstick skillet


Shanghai Stir-Fried Chunky Noodles + Sautéed Bok Choy

  • 1 lb Shanghai (or udon/Asian rice noodles)
  • 1 C firm tofu **(for SOY ALLERGY sub 1 C mushrooms or 2 eggs)**
  • 3 T soy sauce **(for GLUTEN/SOY ALLERGY sub coconut aminos)**
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb bok choy (2 to 3 C)
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 to 2 carrots
  • 3 T vegetable oil (divided)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sugar/honey/agave nectar
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

Food Allergen Substitutions

Shanghai Stir-Fried Chunky Noodles + Sautéed Bok Choy

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute rice noodles for Shanghai noodles, and substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce.
  • Soy: For 1 C firm tofu, substitute 1 C of mushrooms or 2 eggs, and substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce.


Shanghai Stir-Fried Chunky Noodles + Sautéed Bok Choy

cook + cut + crack

Cook 1 pound noodles (or soak in hot water) according to package directions. Drain and toss in a bit of oil to prevent sticking! Meanwhile, have your kids prep your choice of 1 cup tofu, 1 cup mushrooms, or 2 eggs. Cut either the tofu or mushrooms as evenly as possible into slices. If using eggs, crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk.

measure + mix + marinate

In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch and mix well. Add the sliced tofu or mushrooms, if using, and marinate until ready to stir-fry. If using eggs, pour the marinade into the eggs and whisk well.

chop + grate

Have your kids chop 1/2 to 3/4 pound bok choy (2 to 3 C), 2 green onions, and 1 garlic clove. Grate 1 to 2 carrots. Combine the onion, garlic, and carrot in one bowl and keep the bok choy separate.

measure + combine

In a small bowl, have your kids measure and combine 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 pinch of black pepper. Set aside.

heat + sauté

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat on your stovetop. Once the oil is warmed, add the prepared tofu, mushrooms, or eggs with marinade, and the prepared carrots, garlic, and green onions, then sauté. When the tofu or eggs and vegetables are just cooked, remove them from the skillet and set them aside. Next, add your cooked noodles and the soy sauce mixture into the hot skillet and sauté or stir-fry until piping hot. Last, add the chopped bok choy and briefly continue to sauté or stir-fry until wilted. Stir in the cooked tofu, mushrooms, or eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Bok Choy!

back to recipe
Photo by Wasu Watcharadachaphong/

Nǐhǎo! (Hello!) I'm Bok Choy and I'm Chinese!

“My Brassica ancestors, part of the Brassicaceae family, go way back—at least 2,000 years, and maybe more! People sometimes say I look like a "soup spoon" because of the shape of the leaves at the end of my stalk. Can you believe I was fully grown just 45 days after I was planted?!"


  • During an archaeological dig, China discovered seeds of a Brassica species that could be bok choy or one of its close relatives over 6,000 years old! If so, it would be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in Asia. Bok choy has been grown since at least the 5th century CE.
  • Although the veggie is still grown in China, bok choy is also harvested in other Asian countries, Europe, Canada, and the United States, primarily in California.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Bok choy is a part of the cabbage family! It is also called Chinese cabbage and is related to other cruciferous vegetables of the cabbage family, including mustard, broccoli, and cauliflower.

  • A head of bok choy has snow-white stems and dark green leaves. 

  • Bok Choy is called by many names all over the world, but "bok choy" is the most common. In Cantonese, a Chinese language, bok choy means "white vegetable."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Look for bok choy with firm, bright green colored leaves and moist hardy stems. The leaves should be fresh, not limp, and free from signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes.
  • Bok choy should be kept in a cool environment since warm temperatures will cause it to wilt and will negatively affect its flavor. To store bok choy, put it in a plastic storage bag, remove as much air from the bag as possible, and place it in your refrigerator's crisper drawer. Bok choy will keep for about one week if properly stored. 
  • Unlike some of the other cruciferous vegetables, you can consume all parts of bok choy without much trimming.
  • Bok choy can be eaten raw, but in Chinese cuisine, it is almost always cooked. It can be stir-fried or used in soups. You can cook and serve the leaves and the stems separately. 
  • Bok choy is known for its mild flavor and is suitable for stir-fries, braising, and soups. You can eat it raw, but it is usually cooked first. Stir-frying enhances its flavor, and a nice sauce, like our soy sauce, makes it even tastier.
  • You can cook both the leaves and the stalks, but separate them before washing so that both parts are thoroughly cleansed. To ensure your bok choy will be fresh, wait to wash it until you're ready to use it. The portions you don't use will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to six days.


  • Bok Choy has a lot of nutrients that help your body fight cancer, inflammation, and heart disease. Eating a serving (½ to 1 cup) of bok choy is good for your eyes, skin, and overall health. 
  • Bok Choy has several carotenoids and vitamin C! These two antioxidants work doubly hard to prevent oxidation in the body. Oxidation is what happens to "rusted" metal. Antioxidants clean up dirty stuff in the body, in other words. 
  • Vitamin A! The high amounts of beta-carotene (a carotenoid) in bok choy convert to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A protects against some cancers, eye diseases, and skin problems.
  • Vitamin C strengthens our immune systems and protects our bodies against cancer, eye disease, and heart disease.
  • Vitamin K helps blood to clot, allowing wounds to heal. It also helps prevent calcium build-up in arteries. Studies are being conducted to see if it helps in building and maintaining bone health.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine uses bok choy to satisfy thirst, alleviate constipation, help digestion, and treat diabetes.


History of Noodles!

Photo by komokvm/
  • Who produced the original noodle? The Chinese, Arabs, and Italians have all made this claim, but the earliest record appears in a book written in China between 25 and 220 CE.
  • Noodles are a dominant food in many countries and have been for at least 2,000 years. In 2005, archaeologists discovered 4,000-year-old noodles inside a bowl buried under ten feet of sediment in northwest China. Scientists determined the 4,000-year-old, long yellow noodles were made from two kinds of millet native to China and demonstrated advanced cooking skills for that time.
  • Wherever noodles have originated, they have remained in demand for hundreds of years. Their long life is due to many things, including their being cheap, filling, nutritious, quick and easy to prepare, good to eat hot or cold, able to be dried and stored a long time, and easily transported.
  • In Chinese culture, the noodle is a symbol of long life. For that reason, noodles are traditionally served on birthdays and the Chinese New Year as an emblem of longevity. 
  • Shanghai-style noodles, thick Chinese noodles made with wheat flour and water, are Shanghai, China's gift to the wondrous world of noodles! A popular dish served at dumpling restaurants, Shanghai Fried Noodles consists of Shanghai-style noodles stir-fried with beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp, cabbage or bok choy, and onions. As in most Shanghainese cuisine, a soy sauce base is mandatory. There is no shortage of this dish, as customers can slurp it up at most restaurants in the city! 
  • The traditional Japanese diet, as in many Asian countries, includes rice at every meal. However, noodles brought from China have also become a vital part of Japanese cuisine as an alternative to rice. Typical noodles are "soba" noodles, thin brown noodles made from buckwheat, and "udon" noodles, thick wheat noodles served cold or hot with a soy and dashi broth. The Japanese also eat "ramen," a soup made with a Chinese-style wheat noodle, fish or meat stock, and soy sauce or miso flavorings. 
  • Noodles were also incorporated into the Japanese tea ceremony, and noodle-making was considered an art form. 
  • After World War II, noodles became even more critical in Japan when food shortages were rampant and dried foods like noodles were often the only available food item.  
  • Rice noodles are an alternative to wheat-based noodles. Also originating in China, they are made with rice flour and water and are common in East and Southeast Asian cuisines. They are available fresh, frozen, or dried in various shapes and thicknesses.
  • In almost every Asian culture that uses them, noodles are associated with well-being and long life and can be considered an Asian comfort food.

Let's Learn About China + Shanghai!

Photo by Sabel Blanco
  • China's official name is The People's Republic of China. It became a republic in 1912; however, the first Chinese dynasty appeared around 2100 BCE. China is one of the largest countries in the world, and it has the most people!
  • The official language of China is Mandarin. However, various dialects are spoken in different regions of the country. For example, in Shanghai, they speak Shanghainese.
  • China is around the same size as the continental United States but only has one official time zone. The continental US has four.  
  • China's capital city is Beijing, while the most populated city is Shanghai.  
  • The Great Wall in China is the largest man-made construction on Earth, stretching an incredible 5,500 miles. Its builders used mortar that included sticky rice to bind the Great Wall's stones! 
  • China's land is diverse, with high mountains, low coastal lands, deserts, and damp tropical areas. Just like the United States!
  • The Chinese are known for their papermaking, porcelain, and silk cloth. In addition to paper, they also invented the compass during the Han dynasty (202 BCE to 220 CE), woodblock printing in the Tang dynasty (by 7th century), gunpowder in the Tang dynasty (9th century), and movable type made of porcelain (for printing) between 1039 and 1048 CE, during the Song dynasty.
  • Shanghai has the largest population in China! It is on the coast of the East China Sea with the world's largest port and is also a large industrial center. 
  • Shanghai cuisine, traditionally called Benbang cuisine, is noted for its use of seasonings and condiments and the quality of its raw ingredients, always retaining the original flavors. Popular dishes include Shanghai Hairy Crab, Beggar's Chicken, and Shanghai Fried Noodles! 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in China?

  • School success is greatly emphasized in China. Chinese kids go to school five days a week (six days before 1995), and their school day runs from 7:30 or 8 am until 4 or 5 pm. After school, they might do homework for three hours.
  • In primary school, kids learn the Chinese language, which is made up of about 7,000 characters, not letters. The characters represent words. By the time they finish primary school, they will have learned about 4,000 characters. They will also learn a foreign language, especially English.
  • Kids may not have aunts, uncles, or cousins because, at one time, the Chinese government allowed couples to have just one child due to the high population. That later changed to two, and in May 2021, the policy changed again to allow three kids, so now a child may have a sibling or two. 
  • Some of the holidays that kids celebrate with their families are Chinese New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival, and National Day. National Day is celebrated with fireworks and parades to commemorate the formal proclamation of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. 
  • Kids enjoy playing ping pong, basketball, volleyball, and badminton. They also play video games and ride their bikes. 
  • Rice and noodles are staples, and kids may eat these at every meal. They'll eat their food using chopsticks, not forks! 

The Yolk's On You

"Knock, knock!"

"Who's there?"


"Bok who?"

"Didn't you hear me bokking? It's Bok Choy!"

That's Berry Funny

What do you call a fake noodle? 

An impasta!

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