What Is Subgum In Chinese Food & How To Make It

Like chow mein, subgum is a favorite Chinese food made with several ingredients that range from proteins to vegetables.

Subgum is a busy meal but it is very tasty. If you love Chinese cuisine, you may have seen this meal on the menu in a Chinese restaurant. Perhaps you went for your regular bowl of chow mein.

If you loved the chow mein you ate, you would also love subgum. If you have never had any of both meals, you should read this article to whet your appetite.

What is subgum?

Subgum is a Chinese food that originates from the southern part of China. The dish consists of meat or seafood cooked in a spicy sauce mixed with proteins and vegetables.

Not many know it, but the name originates from the term “Sap gam,” which simply means “numerous and varied” in Cantonese. 

The main ingredients for making this dish are green onions, soy sauce, vinegar, chili peppers, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, sesame oil, water chestnuts, rice noodles, and other spices.

It is often served on special occasions such as weddings and birthdays. It is nutrient-rich, fresh, and savory.

Is chicken subgum chow mein different from chow mein?

Yes, it is. Chow mein is a seasoned stew of chopped or diced beef, vegetables, bean sprouts, and mushrooms, stir-fried with fried noodles. Simply put, it’s stir-fried bean sprouts served with noodles.

On the other hand, subgum chow mein refers to a stir-fried variety of vegetables like carrots, water chestnuts (bean sprouts non-inclusive), and chopped celery, all mixed with noodles. 

Subgum is often made with twice the amount of the meat, veggies, and sauce used in chow mein. This versatile dish can be eaten as an appetizer, main course, dessert, or even a garnish.

Nutrition facts for chicken subgum chow mein

One serving of Chinese restaurant chicken chow mein (no rice) has:

  • Subgum chow mein: 347g
  • Calorie count: 513
  • Carbs: 44g net
  • Fat: 16.9g
  • Protein: 40.8g

What ingredients do you need to prepare subgum?

If you’re considering making your dish, here are some ingredients you don’t want to miss out on:

1. Sugar

It is added to enhance the dish’s overall flavor. The sugar used in subgum could be white, brown, or granulated.

2. Soy sauce

This ingredient adds savory flavors to the dish. Some brands contain wheat flour, while others do not.

3. Vinegar

Vinegar is used to create a tangy flavor. Two types are commonly used in subgum recipes: distilled and wine vinegar.

4. Chili peppers

Chili peppers are used to increase the dish’s spiciness. They are available in both fresh and dried forms.

5. Garlic

Garlic is an essential ingredient in subgum dishes. It adds a strong flavor to the meal.

6. Ginger

Ginger is another important ingredient while cooking. It gives the dish a warm and spicy flavor.

7. Salt

It helps to season the dish. Also, it enhances the flavor of the meal by adding savory notes.

8. Pepper

Pepper adds spice to the meal. It is also used to prevent the dish from drying out.

9. Sesame oil

This oil is used to add a rich flavor to the dish. It is similar to peanut oil but contains less fat.

Other Ingredients include cornstarch, water, and vegetable oil, which help thicken the sauce.

How to make subgum Chinese food

Follow these steps to make this dish:

Step 1

To prepare this meal, you will need to combine several ingredients. You may use any one of these ingredients or mix them up depending on your preference.

Step 2

Heat some vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Then, add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.

Step 3

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sugar. Stir continuously until the mixture becomes a thick syrup.

Step 4

Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and chili peppers. Continue stirring until the sauce becomes smooth.

Step 5

Next, put in the ginger and continue mixing. Add the salt and pepper and stir thoroughly. You can also add your stripped vegetables and stir until tender or add noodles, depending on your preference.

Step 6

Finally, pour in the sesame oil and mix well. Remove the pan from the stove and let cool down before serving. 

Note: It’s better to consume this dish immediately after preparing it. The sauce will become too thick and sticky if you leave it for too long.

Also, don’t forget to remove the seeds from the chili peppers.

Fascinating health benefits of eating subgum

There are numerous health benefits associated with eating subgum. Some of them include:

1. Weight loss

One of the best things about subgum is that it burns calories. Since it contains high amounts of protein and low carbohydrate levels, it helps reduce weight gain.

2. Fights cancer

The ability of subgum to resist cancer growth doesn’t have a lot of scientific proof yet. However, some studies suggest that this food may have anti-cancer properties.

3. Lowers cholesterol levels

The cholesterol-lowering property of subgum has been proven through various clinical trials. According to one study, people who consumed subgum had lower cholesterol levels than those who did not.

4. Improves digestion

One of the reasons why subgum tastes so good is because it improves digestion. The spices contained in the subgum stimulate the digestive system. This makes it easier for the body to break down foods.

5. Good source of vitamin C

Vitamin C is often referred to as the “miracle vitamin.” It is known to boost immunity and fight infections. Therefore, consuming subgum frequently can help keep you healthy.

6. Helps prevent heart disease

Studies show that moderate consumption of this food reduces the risk of heart disease. It has been shown to decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

7. Protects against diabetes

Diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin. Insulin is needed to convert glucose into energy. When it occurs, the body stops producing enough insulin. This leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. 

High blood sugar levels cause damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and other organs. Regular consumption of subgum can lower the risks of diabetes.

8. Boosts immunity

Many people believe that spicy foods help boost their immune systems. While this is true, adding this food to the diet can do even more. 

Also, studies show that eating subgum may help boost immunity. This is especially useful during cold seasons when viruses like influenza and rhinovirus are circulating.

9. Reduces stress

When you eat this meal, you release endorphins which make you feel happy. Endorphins are natural painkillers produced by the brain. Also, they act as mood enhancers.

10. Promotes healthy skin

Subgum is a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging cells and DNA. Free radicals are harmful chemicals that can lead to premature aging.


What are subgum noodles?

They are a type of Chinese noodles mixed with vegetables. These vegetables can be anything from water chestnuts to rice noodles.

Is subgum chow mein healthy?

Yes, it is. The vegetables, amongst other ingredients, make subgum chow mein a healthy and satisfying dish.

What is in subgum wonton?

Subgum wonton comprises various ingredients, including shrimp, fried wonton, stripped prawns, chicken, etc., all dipped in brown sauce. 


Subgum is a traditional Chinese food that originated in Hunan province. The recipe has been around for thousands of years and is still enjoyed by many people across China. In addition, it is a nutrient-rich dish you can eat with rice, noodles, or by itself.

Something else in Asian cuisine you will love to try is dumplings. But before you do, learn about the nutritional value of dumplings and how to get the best out of them.

Thanks for reading.