Lo Mein — Get in my belly!
Aside from the Loaded “House” Fried Rice, I shared with you last week; this is on my short list of favorites at my not-so-local, Chinese Restaurant. My daughter orders this dish. Every. Single. Time. Our server already knows what she’s going to order before he even approaches our table.
As for my husband and myself, we usually order one or two of probably three other dishes on the menu. I hate that I’m so predictable but, well, here I am. (ugh). It’s so hard to order something new when the dishes I’ve tried are all so tasty! But I do have my eye on a new one to try the next time we go. I’ve bargained with my husband to go for lunch instead of dinner so we could try some new items on the menu. We’ll have to see how that goes.
Oh – you like that do you? That’s my daughter’s divided dinner plate. I hate to admit that we use that quite a bit for dinner preparation. Don’t judge! Any port in a storm, my friends. Any. Port.
You do that, too? Oh good. (phew).
The great thing about Lo Mein is that it’s easy to prepare. Just 15 minutes or so for a basic vegetable Lo Mein but slightly more for each protein you add (about 25 total for this loaded Lo Mein). Stir frying in batches to maintain high heat takes a little extra time but it’s well worth it. That savory, salty, umami goodness is so worth the wait. You will just have to trust me on these finer points until you try it for yourself.
Okay, so since there’s not much to Lo Mein, there are two things we really should talk about the preparation.
- cooking surface
The noodles are pretty adaptable but the cooking surface and temperature will really make or break your Lo Mein experience. And I will tell you why.
So first, the noodles. This time, I bought a package of fresh noodles from the Asian section of my regular grocery store. They were ready to use right out of the package but the noodles were smaller as compared to the dried ones I normally purchase at the Asian market. I will say, the noodles tasted the same but for presentation, I would prefer the dried noodles and will probably go with that again next time. So much for trying something new, right?
If the fresh or dried lo mein style noodles are not available in your area, you can easily substitute spaghetti noodles in their place. The taste and texture are identical and I found they are even made from the wheat flour. Just for reference, there are gluten-free Lo Mein noodles out there if you need them. We’ve had Lo Mein prepared with Japanese Soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat, but I just didn’t care for it. So, I would definitely go with spaghetti noodles if Lo Mein noodles are not available in your area.
Now, let’s talk about the stir frying because this is the important part.
In my Fried Rice post last week, I talked about the differences in cooking surfaces and temperatures. In a nutshell, since Western flat burner stoves do not heat as highly as the specialized restaurant style butane wok-shaped burners (100,000 BTUs by the way), wide, flat pan works best for on our flat-burner stoves. I let mine get good and hot, and the trick is not to stir it as often as we’ve seen at the restaurants. Traditional wok burners, because of their extremely high heat, need the food in constant motion to avoid burning. I found that just like hash browns, I need to let things sit for a minute before stirring to allow the foods to caramelize and get nicely browned.
Between non-stick and stainless pans, stainless require about 5 times (FIVE TIMES) the oil in order for the noodles to not stick to the pan. That being said, I recommend the non-stick pan as it really does make a considerable difference in this dish.
As you’ve seen in the photos throughout the post, you can use almost any vegetables or proteins in this dish. It’s your Lo Mein, eat it as you like it. I love mine fully loaded. Why settle? Today we’re using chicken, steak, colossal shrimp, julienne red, yellow and orange peppers, sliced white mushrooms, julienne carrots, white onion and cabbage. But you can use anything you like.
Just like with our Fried Rice, the secret to the Lo Mein vegetables is the Mirin (Asian sweet cooking wine) we use to finish them off after we saute them. This one simple ingredient gives the entire dish a restaurant quality taste and really brings it to a new level.
Well, there you go! Time to go dig into a heaping bowl. I wish I had a bowl right now, too. Mmmmm.
This Loaded “House” Lo Mein is:
- Quick cooking
- easy to prepare
- Loaded with savory Umami flavor
- ½ cup soy sauce (regular, dark, less sodium, or a blend - I use a blend) See note 1
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce (optional) See Note 2
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 12 ounces Lo Mein noodles (or spaghetti) cooked to package directions
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 4 green onions, sliced
- ¼ cup julienne carrots
- ½ cup julienne red peppers
- ½ cup thinly sliced cabbage
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp mirin (Asian sweet cooking wine and rice seasoning)
- 6 oz shrimp, any variety, peeled and cooked, tails on (i used colossal)
- 4 oz chicken, pounded thin, sliced and saute (or leftover roasted)
- 4 oz beef steak, pounded thin, sliced thin and sauteed
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- It's best for this recipe to prepare everything you will need before starting. Chop and measure everything. Once you start cooking, it really comes together fast.
- Combine the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Using fresh, rinse under cool water, drain and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp oil to a 10 to 12-inch skillet and heat on high until it is good and hot.
- Add the shrimp to the hot skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook about 1 - 2 minutes per side; or until the shrimp turn a light pink color and the tails curl in. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add chicken and saute until the chicken is cooked through and the juices are clear. Remove to the plate with the shrimp and set aside.
- Add the beef strips into the hot skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until your desired doneness is achieved. I saute mine just to a medium. They will finish cooking with transfer heat when they are added back to the pan. Remove to the plate with the chicken and shrimp and set aside.
- Now, add the sesame oil into the skillet and add the vegetables plus garlic and ginger. Stir fry until fork-tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the Mirin to the pan. The mirin will bubble rapidly. Allow this to simmer until it is mostly evaporated and the vegetables are tender.
- Add the cooked noodles and sauce to the pan- toss to coat.
- Return the meats to the pan along and toss to coat with the sauce.
- To get a nice browning to the noodles, allow it to sit for 30 seconds or so to allow caramelization, if crispiness in not desired, stir until the noodles are heated through.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. If desired, add more soy sauce.
- Optional garnishes include scallions, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and sriracha sauce or chili paste (spicy).
2). Oyster sauce is optional but adds a nice depth of flavor and savory background note to the sauce.
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